Morning Headlamp – Trump Undoing Job Killing Regulations while Anti-Development Groups Find New Enemy: pipelines

Trump rolling back harmful regulations. President Donald Trump is poised in the coming days to announce his plans to dismantle the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy. The executive actions will follow the White House’s release last week of a proposed budget that would eliminate climate change research and prevention programs across the federal government and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, more than any other agency. Trump will order EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan. The Obama rule would have shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of new coal plants, while replacing them with vast wind and solar farms. At a campaign-style rally Monday in the coal-mining state of Kentucky, Trump told a cheering audience that he is preparing an executive action that would “save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work.”

City hiking utility rates. Anchorage Municipal Power & Light customers are seeing a 19 percent spike on average as the utility seeks to pay off a new plant in East Anchorage. The Regulatory Commission of Alaska set the refundable, interim rate increase on Feb. 13 while it considers long-term rate increases requested by ML&P. The new rate means the average ML&P bill for $91.31 jumps to $108.78. The RCA has until March 25 to make a final order. The interim increase could be in effect for up to a year, the utility said in an insert that will soon be arriving with electric bills.

Senate seeks broad education reform. A new bill from Alaska Senate leaders would create a virtual education center for the state, among other provisions aimed at reducing the state’s $1.3 billion in annual schools spending. Senate Bill 96 is sponsored by the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer. Bill provisions include the establishment of a “virtual education consortium,” which would create a database of online courses and help train teachers in virtual instruction. The bill has several other measures aimed at cutting costs, including one that would increase the size of one-time grants that can be given to school districts joining a state-sponsored plan for health insurance — a major cost driver for schools.

Close, but no cigar. Forbes contributor David Blackmon points out that environmentalists, recently encouraged by the temporary victory given them by the Obama Administration related to the Keystone XL pipeline project, have become engaged in protests related to numerous midstream projects in the Northeast, in North Dakota (the Dakota Access Pipeline) and in West Texas (the Trans-Pecos Pipeline). As their decade-long effort to demonize hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” as they like to call it – lost its previous steam over the last couple of years, anti-fossil fuel conflict groups who raise money by stoking public fears related to the oil and gas industry have gradually shifted their main focus over to the pipeline segment of the business.  But their high-profile “wins” to date have been either temporary or, as with the Dakota Access Pipeline, illusory, the conflict industry obviously sees this coordinated attack on the midstream segment as a money-maker nevertheless.  Thus, they have chosen to engage in a constantly-increasing number of pipeline-related construction projects and incidents, making pipelines a new favorite target of these fringe groups.

 

First Reads

Spike in ML&P electric bills draws opposition

Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, March 22, 2017

Trump lays plans to reverse Obama’s climate change legacy

The New York Times, Coral Davenport, March 22, 2017

New education bill from Senate would create virtual education hub, push for schools consolidation

Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, March 22, 2017

Conflict Groups Find A New Boogeyman – Pipelines

Forbes, David Blackmon, March 21, 2017

Japanese company withdraws plans for $1 billion LNG plant at Port MacKenzie

KTVA, Shannon Ballard, March 21, 2017