Morning Headlamp – Ballot Measure Mania Begins with SOS

They’re baaaaack. Under the battle cry of “Save our Salmon” a petition to stop responsible resource development anywhere at any time has been filed with the Lite Gov. A stated goal of the initiative to “Create a presumption that all tributaries and upstream reaches of a water body listed in the AWC, as well as, any unlisted water body that is connected to marine waters is presumed anadromous unless proven otherwise,” is in reality a “guilty until proven innocent presumption that will do anything but update and streamline a permitting system. The reverse is true – the burden of proof will be on a developer and folks who are opposed will spend years, as they do now, litigating and delaying any development effort,” according to Rebecca Logan, CEO of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance. Headlamp couldn’t agree more with Ms. Logan’s assessment.
Mack on track. According to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack, the State will push new U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to rewrite rules restricting oil and gas development in the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska. “We will be submitting a specific proposal within the next couple of weeks to Secretary Zinke. This grows out of meetings our governor had with the secretary earlier this year in which he seemed receptive,” Mack said in an interview. “We believe we can help BLM (Bureau of Land Management) in developing a new plan that is balanced,” between resource development and environmental protection, said Mack. Responsible resource development: Alaskans do it best.

A simple request. A speedier permit process and simpler environmental rules top the wish list of associations representing the drilling, refining, mining, and building industries.  The groups have submitted hundreds of pages of documents to the Commerce Department and Environmental Protection Agency in recent weeks, outlining regulations they want to see eliminated or modified.

Time is Money   With more than 3,000 outstanding bids to drill on public land, The Bureau of Land Management is feeling the pressure. “The backlog of applications for permits to drill is still a very real issue that our member companies are facing,” said Neal Kirby, spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). “Every day that goes by while independent producers — companies with an average of 12 employees — wait for their permits to be approved means more money out of their own pockets, more business uncertainty as it relates to long-term planning, and less royalties flowing back to the federal and state treasuries…”

Special session called on state budget. Governor Walker has called for a special session, again, as the legislature failed to finalize several key pieces of legislation, including a budget. Governor Walker’s special session call includes the following items:

  • Opioids prescription and monitoring
  • Operating budget
  • Mental health budget
  • Capital budget
  • Oil and gas tax credit reform
  • Permanent Fund Protection Act
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Broad-based tax

Headlamp would encourage the Governor to provide leadership by declaring his policy goals – does he support high taxes and big government? Or does he support a smaller government and low taxes? Sitting on the fence doesn’t help anyone – it leads to special sessions ad nauseum where nothing is accomplished. And if you’d really like to get your blood pressure up this morning, check out KTUU’s overtime clock that gives you a real time estimate of what this dog and pony show is costing Alaskans.

Rocky Mountain High. The state of Colorado is looking for workers; workers who can pass a drug test.  Failed drug tests are on the rise locally, and nationally. The state’s unemployment rate is already low – 3 percent, compared to 4.7 percent for the entire nation. Job applicants are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine, amphetamine and heroin at the highest rate in 12 years, according to a new report from Quest Diagnostics, a clinical lab that follows national employment trends.

Alaska take note: prior to the legalization of marijuana, Alaskan employers were reporting that 30% of job applicants failed a drug test. 

Are all jobs equal?  Coal state lawmakers will be looking to another source of jobs for Appalachia on Thursday by promoting a bill to remake the region into a hub for the chemical ethane. West Virginia Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat, introduced a bill last week to study the prospects for developing their state into a hub for ethane storage and production. Ethane is a highly sought after chemical derived from natural gas production, and used in everything from making chemicals that cause fruit to ripen faster to manufacturing plastics and polymers.

 

First Reads

Gov. Walker orders special session after legislature fails to reach budget deal
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, May 18, 2017

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most Arctic of them all?
Alaska Dispatch News, Jeannette Lee Falsey, May 18, 2017

U.S. industry seeks faster permits, simpler rules in Trump regulation reset
Reuters, Valerie Volcovici and Timothy Gardner, May 17, 2017

3K drilling permit applications await BLM approval
EE News, Pamela King, May 17, 2017

State will pursue revised rules for NPR-A with Interior Dept.
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Tim Bradner, May 17, 2017

Coal state lawmakers look to new sources of jobs in infrastructure bill
Washington Examiner, John Siciliano, May 18, 2017

Companies need workers – but people keep getting high
Alaska Dispatch News, Danielle Paquette, May 17, 2017

New Alaska habitat protection initiative would turn tables on miners, development
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathanial Herz, May 17, 2017