Sturgeon continues the fight. John Sturgeon’s lawsuit against the National Park Service now has broad ramifications for American federalism and the basic rules of land and water ownership both inside and outside of Alaska, his attorneys argue in a petition for the U.S. Supreme court to take the case for a second time. Sturgeon’s struggle with the Park Service dates back more than 10 years and has cost him and his supporters about $800,000 as it’s moved through the federal courts, including a previous stop at the Supreme Court in 2016. On Jan. 2, law firms representing Sturgeon in Arlington, Virginia and Anchorage, filed a 138-page petition for a writ of certiorari, a document that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court ruling.
Legislators keep their pay. An independent commission reversed itself Tuesday and decided not to advance a plan to cut Alaska legislators’ $50,400 salaries by 10 percent. The State Officers Compensation Commission voted 2-2 on the proposal, which would have sliced legislative salaries to $45,360; the recently appointed fifth member of the commission, Mike Miller of North Pole, was absent. The tie vote means the proposal will not move forward, said Kate Sheehan, who works with the commission in her job as state personnel director. The commission, in October, initially proposed to slash both legislators’ compensation and their daily expense checks, known as per diem. The commission’s original plan could have cost each legislator more than $20,000 a year.
Energy infrastructure for everyone! Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, urged President Donald Trump Tuesday not to forget about the energy sector when it comes to fixing the nation’s infrastructure. “Too often, the infrastructure conversation is limited to highways, roads and bridges – which rely heavily on government funding,” he said in a prepared speech at an API event in Washington. “By expanding our focus beyond traditional infrastructure and considering the great opportunity of energy infrastructure investments, we could potentially double the economic benefits of infrastructure in this country.”
From the Washington Examiner’s Daily on Energy:
WHITE HOUSE, SENATORS MEET TO DISCUSS INFRASTRUCTURE: Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, met with Trump administration officials Tuesday to discuss a major infrastructure bill, which the president wants to see move ahead after the successful passage of the tax reform law.
Bipartisan briefing: Top administration officials on infrastructure attended the meeting, including Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and senators from the EPW committee.
“The meeting gave senators the chance to have a direct back-and-forth with administration leadership on their priorities,” Barrasso said. “Today’s meeting was a great opportunity to discuss the Trump administration’s plans for upgrading America’s aging highways, bridges, ports, and dams.”
Crucial committee: Barrasso’s committee will be crucial to any major infrastructure push in the Senate. His committee has jurisdiction over all public works projects as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. Any bill is expected to include a way to streamline EPA and other agencies’ permitting requirement to speed up project approvals.
Florida gets a bye. President Donald Trump’s administration has abruptly withdrawn offshore acreage around Florida from its proposal to open more federal waters to oil and gas leasing, dealing a blow to industry hopes to develop the area. US interior secretary Ryan Zinke said today he decided to remove Florida from a draft offshore leasing plan after talking today to Florida governor Rick Scott (R). The offshore acreage near Florida includes the eastern Gulf of Mexico, an area thought to hold 3.6bn bl of oil that industry officials say would be easier to develop because it is close to existing oil and gas infrastructure. “I support the governor’s position that Florida is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver,” Zinke said. “As a result, I am removing Florida from consideration for any new oil and gas platforms.”
In second high court bid, Sturgeon says hovercraft case has national importance
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sam Friedman, January 9, 2018
Commission backtracks, says no to pay cut for Alaska legislators
Anchorage Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, January 9, 2018
API president to Trump: Don’t forget energy infrastructure
Houston Chronicle, James Osborne, January 9, 2018
US drops Florida from offshore leasing plan: Update 2
Argus, January 10, 2018