Morning Headlamp – Investment, Income Tax, Icebreakers.

Trump reverses Obama on offshore drilling. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to rollback Obama-era mandates and revise a five-year schedule for auctioning offshore drilling rights with the aim of potentially including territory that was previously deemed off-limits. Trump’s order also seeks to reverse a potentially more enduring decision by Obama to indefinitely withdraw most U.S. Arctic waters and some Atlantic Ocean areas from leasing forever. “It is better to produce energy here under reasonable regulations than to have it produced overseas with no regulations,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters at a White House briefing to describe the order Trump is slated to sign Friday.

Show me the money. Summer promises to be a busy construction season for the Interior due to a series of projects at the region’s two Air Force installations. The projects will inject more than $1.5 billion into the area’s economy. Work is just getting under way on a $22 million building at Eielson Air Force Base that will enable pilots of the new F-35 fighters that are coming here to train in a computer-simulated environment.

The British are coming. Quaterra Resources, Inc. announced that it had signed an agreement with Chuchuna Minerals Co., which is owned by village corporation Kijik Corp. and Alaska Earth Sciences. The agreement gives Quaterra the option to buy a 90 percent interest in the 40,000-acre Groundhog copper prospect, located not far from the embattled Pebble mine prospect.

Mailers target House Majority members who supported Income Tax. An anonymous anti-income tax mailer was delivered across the state this week to the districts of at least four Alaska House members who voted earlier this month to reimpose the state’s income tax. Several campaigns have attacked the income tax proposal, but none of the people or groups behind them took responsibility for the mailers this week. Another income tax opponent, Anchorage investor Bob Gillam, has already run newspaper and online advertisements attacking the proposal, and they’ve included a disclosure identifying Gillam.

Lawmakers meet and adjourn without confirmation votes. The Alaska House and Senate convened together Thursday to take confirmation votes on Gov. Bill Walker’s appointees to lead state departments, boards and commissions — then left without voting. The bizarre development in the House chambers came after the Senate canceled an earlier set of votes on appointees scheduled for April 13, saying they’d take up the nominations later. Walker then issued a formal proclamation Wednesday ordering lawmakers into a joint session Thursday to act on his appointments.

Absolute power corrupts? There are more signs of friction in Juneau this week. The latest example came between two House members, when a seemingly non-controversial committee meeting became anything but. It ended with one lawmaker calling for a reprimand of the House Rules Committee chair, Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux.

US behind in Icebreaker race. Almost a year after the Russian Ministry of Defense announced its plans to acquire a new class of icebreaking Arctic patrol vessels, the keel of the first “Project 23550” multipurpose Arctic patrol ship has been laid.

 

First Reads

Trump to Expand Offshore Drilling, Review Post-Spill Rules

Bloomberg, Jennifer Dlouhy, April 28, 2017

Anonymous mailers target Alaska House members who backed income tax

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, April 28, 2017

Trump, reversing Obama, will push to expand drilling in Arctic, Atlantic oceans

Alaska Dispatch News, Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis – Washington Post, April 28, 2017

Alaska lawmakers meet for confirmation votes on governor’s appointees but leave without voting

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, April 28, 2017

Construction at area’s Air Force installations to inject $1.5 billion into Interior economy

Alaska Public Media, Tim Ellis, April 27, 2017

British Columbia mining company to fund exploration at Alaska copper prospect

Alaska Dispatch News, Annie Zak , April 27, 2017

Eastman calls for reprimand after LeDoux blocks committee debate

KTVA, Liz Raines, April 27, 2017

Construction begins on Russian Navy’s first Arctic patrol ship
Arctic Now from High North News, Ryan Uljua, April 28, 2017