Morning Headlamp – House says “NO” to more troopers, prosecutors, road maintenance and snow plowing

Here to stay. Hilcorp Energy has big plans for Alaska that include drilling on the North Slope and in the Cook Inlet. They see  Alaska as a “great place of opportunity,” a place where the company anticipates operating for many years, David Wilkins, senior vice president of Hilcorp Alaska LLC, told the Alaska Oil and Gas Association’s annual conference on May 31.

Foster fostering fairness? Rep. Neal Foster, Nome and co-chair of House Finance seems to believe there is a deal to be made on the capital budget with the following among the House Finance Committee’s major changes to the Senate’s version of the proposal: Setting aside $40 million for cash incentives claimed by oil companies, a sharp reduction from the $288 million proposed by the Senate (the cash incentives, even though unpaid, would still be owed to the companies); rejecting a Senate plan to send $50 million from a natural gas pipeline project account to pay for more troopers, prosecutors, road maintenance and snowplowing;Top of Form setting aside $7 million to replace Kivalina’s school, which Foster said would uphold the terms of a state legal settlement over rural schools; taking away half of the money lawmakers had set aside in previous years for two megaprojects that have since stalled amid the state’s budget crisis — the road out of Juneau and the bridge from Anchorage that would span Knik Arm. Headlamp is intrigued by the double speak from the House Majority – as they pontificate about the need for more troopers, prosecutors and road maintenance, they reduce the funding for them. 

Breaking down barriers. The Trump administration may enforce restrictions on the length of environmental reviews as part of an effort to streamline the project approval process in his $1 trillion infrastructure package. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, speaking at a Competitive Enterprise Institute dinner Wednesday evening, outlined some of the broad details of Trump’s rebuilding proposal.
The plan is expected to roll back regulations that can slow down transportation projects and streamline the lengthy construction approval and permitting process, with the goal of bringing the timeline from as long as 10 years down to two years.

Budget Battles and Incident Command. The state ferry system, Division of Motor Vehicles, and the 2.5 million fish housed at state hatcheries could be among the casualties if the Legislature fails to prevent a state government shutdown July 1st. Governor Walker, in a news conference, told reporters that his administration doesn’t have the “luxury” of counting on a deal to emerge. He announced he would set up an “incident command structure,” headed by Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, to make sure the state is prepared for a shutdown. Without a budget and its appropriations, Walker said the Alaska Constitution allows his administration to continue to spend money on programs to ensure life, health and safety — but no others. Other impacts include state park rangers and visitor centers, payment of unemployment insurance claims, summer road construction, and state museum operations.

 

First Reads

Gov. Walker’s administration tells Alaskans what they can expect in a state government shutdown
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 10, 2017

As budgets shrink, private management of Alaska state park sites grows
Alaska Dispatch News, Annie Zak, June 11, 2017

Saudi investors eye Russian Arctic LNG
The Independent Barents Observer, Atle Staalesen< June 12, 2017

Here for the long haul
Petroleum News, June 11, 2017

House panel holds back cash subsidies for oil companies to fund other projects
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathanial Herz, June 12, 2017

Trump may restrict length of environmental reviews under infrastructure plan
The Hill, Melanie Zanona, June 7, 2017

Support the Senate Version of HB 111
Peninsula Clarion, Gail Phillips & Harry McDonald, June 11, 2017