Morning Headlamp – Apparently 90 Days Isn’t Enough For Juneau Anymore

Show me the way to go home. Amid ongoing budget discussions in Juneau, most lawmakers seem to agree that the state’s budget crisis has stretched the 90-day session limit. “The 90-day session is the law of the land,” House Speaker Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, said in an interview Monday. “But this session, we have extraordinary challenges in front of us that I think the public deserves the Legislature to take a very deliberative approach to.” Three weeks before their deadline, lawmakers are beginning to acknowledge the obvious — they’re unlikely to leave April 16, the 90th day. It’s a concession that comes after two straight years in which the Legislature took months of extra time to finish its work.

Headlamp would be more sympathetic to Speaker Edgmon’s “deliberative approach” statement had the House actually done the work necessary to reduce the size and scope of government instead of increasing the budget and seeking more revenue to feed their spending habit. 

How much is too much? Alaska lawmakers set new limits on Tuesday on their annual state-paid trips to and from Juneau — a move that comes after a Senator billed the state more than $20,000 in two years to ship appliances, power tools and a piano home from the capital. The rule comes two months after it emerged that Sen. Donny Olson had shipped nearly 7,400 pounds of stuff in the past two years from Juneau to his village of Golovin, near Nome — and not from Golovin to Juneau. The Legislative Council already tightened the moving policy in December to allow shipment only of “small” appliances like toasters or electric mixers but not a washer or dryer. At Tuesday’s meeting, the council tightened the policy further.

CO2 Reg gone. The Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation limiting carbon dioxide emissions from power plants won’t mean much for Alaska. The state was already exempt from the rule, which the EPA issued in 2015, after ongoing efforts by Republican Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs both the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the EPA’s budget. The head of the EPA’s air division at the time, Janet McCabe, noted then that requirements for the Lower 48 were heavily “dependent upon the interconnectedness of the grid,” which is not something that’s available to help Alaska lower its CO2 pollution.

ANSEP is great for Alaska. Dozens of middle school students are in Anchorage from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District for hands-on learning at the Alaska Native Science and Engineering program (ANSEP). The program is designed to spark an early interest in science, technology, engineering and math, subjects that ANSEP staff say are sometimes difficult for kids to get into. The students have all applied to be here, and the all-expenses-paid academy houses them on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus.

According to ANSEP regional director Audrey Alstrom, part of why the program succeeds is that it is simply more engaging than traditional classroom instruction. The program also raises expectations for the kids, who are on track to begin taking high school classes. When they are in high school, they will be ready for college-level instruction. Headlamp is a big fan of ANSEP and applauds their efforts to engage students at a young age. 

The truth is so limiting for ENGO’s…Activist organizations are seeking to use the recent Hilcorp Cook Inlet incident as justification for why the company should not be allowed to operate in other offshore areas and attempting to convince the public that any form of offshore energy development is hazardous. Nothing could be further from the truth. What is dangerous is when these sorts of falsities catch the attention of large ENGOs like Greenpeace and Sierra Club who exploit the incidents to achieve their national anti-development, anti-growth goals.

Hilcorp Senior Vice President penned a piece for the Alaska Dispatch News detailing company responses to the recent incident in the Cook Inlet. He emphatically declared that Hilcorp is dedicated first and foremost to doing things right, at all times including proactive measures, safety of the environment, and safety of personnel.

 

First Reads

Shipping rules tightened after state paid to move senator’s piano and power tools

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, March 29, 2017

Alaska lawmakers are inching toward overtime again. Is the 90-day limit defunct?

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, March 29, 2017

Trump’s repeal of emissions rule won’t immediately affect Alaska

Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, March 29, 2017

Popular program puts STEM in kids’ hands

Alaska public Media, Casey Grove, March 28, 2017

COMMENTARY: Activists attempt to link unrelated incidents to stymie offshore energy

Alaska Journal of Commerce, Randall Luthi, March 28, 2017

Hilcorp aims to do things right in Alaska

Alaska Dispatch News, David Wilkins, March 29, 2017