Morning Headlamp: Pulling the Wool over our eyes; 100 lawyers and counting

Pulling the Wool over your eyes. Rep. Adam Wool has an opinion piece in the Alaska Dispatch News discussing Alaska’s “good run” and listing the options before the Legislature to address our fiscal situation, but the piece fails to provide any real insight or solutions. We need action, not op-eds.

$400,000 and counting… So far, Alaska lawmakers have collected $393,340 dollars in per diem during special sessions this year, according to numbers provided by the Legislative Affairs Agency Thursday. The legislature is now likely headed for a third — after negotiations on oil taxes derailed Wednesday. That would cost the state hundreds of thousands more.

Time keeps on ticking, ticking ticking… During a press conference held Thursday afternoon, House Republicans urged Democrats to return to Juneau to finish deliberation on the bill, saying that some Democrats remained in Anchorage was hoping to saving the state travel money. “We could come down here and we could save the state a million dollars a day,” said Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage. “If you really want to save the state money, let’s talk about cashable credits. To save the state real dollars, this is the opportunity.” Of the 40 sections of the bill, the House and Senate committees agreed on 35 sections, Millett said. Click here to see the “Cashable Tax Credits” calculator on the House Republicans website showing the debt we’re accruing through inaction.

On the up and up? Oil prices rose 1.3 percent on Thursday after much stronger demand in China overshadowed a downbeat report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that showed higher production by key OPEC exporters. Brent crude LCOc1 settled up 68 cents or 1.42 percent at $48.42 a barrel. U.S. light crude CLc1 settled up 59 cents at $46.08 a barrel. “The market is trying to stabilize,” said Gene McGillian, manager of market research at Tradition Energy.

Did you hear the one about the lawyer? President Donald Trump promised to grow jobs by rolling back Obama-era energy and pollution rules. And he’s fulfilling his pledge, but not how he intended. In just six months, Trump’s policies have resulted in a surge in employment — for environmental lawyers. Abigail Dillen, a vice president of litigation for Earthjustice, a nonprofit organization that filed the Dakota Access lawsuit, said her group and others are girding for years of court battles over bedrock environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. Earthjustice has increased its staff of lawyers since November to 100, and is planning to hire another 30 in coming months.

Let’s talk ANWR. A delegation from Yukon and Alaska is in Washington D.C., this week, trying to convince U.S. politicians to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling. The refuge, on Alaska’s remote north slope, is home to polar bears, muskoxen and migratory birds, and it’s the calving grounds of the vast Porcupine caribou herd. The area is also rich in untapped oil.

First Reads

We had a good run; now we need to pony up
Alaska Dispatch News, Adam Wool, July 13, 2017

Special sessions have cost nearly $400,000 in per diem, lawmakers likely headed for another
KTVA, Liz Raines, July 13, 2017

Time running out for oil and gas tax bill
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Erin Granger, July 14, 2017

Oil rises as robust Chinese demand seen helping drain glut
Reuters, Jessica Resnick-Ault, July 12, 2017

Trump’s ‘drill, baby, drill’ energy policies are being met by ‘sue, baby, sue’
Arctic Now, Stuart Leavenworth, July 17, 2017

Yukon delegates in Washington aim to ‘put a face’ to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
CBC News, July 13, 2017