Inslee “accepts higher emissions…” Mine US Minerals – don’t undermine them

May 17, 2019 | Posted in : News

Gov. Inslee is wrong to flip-flop on liquefied natural-gas facility in Tacoma
Seattle Times Editorial, May 16, 2019

Gov.  Jay Inslee is doing an outstanding job staying on message in his presidential campaign, making climate change his signature issue and a focus of the primaries.  But Inslee went too far last week when he pulled support for a project in Tacoma that will cut emissions and create jobs.  Early in his governorship, Inslee championed the Tacoma liquefied natural-gas (LNG) facility. That pragmatic, nuanced approach provided certainty for local companies to commit more than $500 million to a project that will substantially reduce  emissions from ships sailing between Puget Sound and Alaska.  That stance no longer jibes with the current mantra of his far-left environmental base, which now advocates for halting additional fossil-fuel consumption. It also put Inslee in conflict with one of the state’s wealthiest tribes, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, which opposed the project.


Jay Inslee wants to be the climate change president. His record shows what a tough sell that issue could be.

Mine US minerals – don’t undermine them
Ned Mamula, The Hill, May 16, 2019

Over the past 50 years, the United States has ignored and even shunned the importance of its mineral wealth like no other country in the industrial world.  Australia, Canada, Sweden, Russia, China and most other industrialized economies value their mineral resources and use them to their defense and economic benefit, and even for geopolitical advantage. Not so the United States. Indeed, our nation “boasts” a growing list of groups that are openly hostile to extractive industries, especially mining.  Yet, the one economic sector that meets the American appetite for raw materials, gadgets, high-tech equipment, cars, jetliners and “renewable” energy technologies that we take for granted  — all of which are made from minerals and metals — is mining.

Our Take:   As the author notes, the proposed Mining Law Reform legislation recently introduced in the House could cause great harm to the industry.  A 12.5% royalty on new production from federal lands is, well, crazy talk for an industry that already pays  45% of its earnings to government.  “A disincentive on steroids” is an excellent way to describe the proposed ability to allow mining claims to be cancelled after a 20-year period.  Thankfully, such legislation is DOA in the Senate. 

Fall 2019 Lease Sale To Include SALSA Oil And Gas Sale Blocks
Jennifer Williams, KSRM, May 16, 2019

The Division of Oil and Gas will offer Special Alaska Lease Sale Area (SALSA) blocks in conjunction with the Fall 2019 oil and gas lease sale, Commissioner Corri A. Feige announced on Wednesday.  The Harrison Bay, Storms, and Gwydyr Bay lease sale blocks will be offered again in 2019 with the same or similar terms and conditions as were offered in the Fall 2018 sale. Each lease sale block has 3-D seismic data acquired through the State of Alaska Tax Credit Program, which are available through the Department of Natural Resources.  Commissioner Feige: “We received enthusiastic feedback about the 2018 SALSA program and the data compilation associated with the program. By signaling our intentions earlier this year, potential bidders will have much more time to evaluate and consider opportunities. We see SALSA as an outstanding way to market Alaska’s resources, easing the data research process, and accelerating exploration and development.”

Our Take:  Kudos to Commissioner Feige for implementing Governor Dunleavy’s “open for business” agenda!   We haven’t heard the words “accelerating exploration and development” for far too long. 

Researchers say methane estimates at gas wells were wrong
John Fialka, E & E News, May 16, 2019

Scientists made “major overestimations” of methane emissions from oil and gas production in the United States by relying on faulty measurements, according to new research sponsored by NOAA.

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Hump Day Hypocrisy from Anti-Pebble Presenters;  Exploration mojo is back! 

May 16, 2019 | Posted in : News

What about the bears?
Brian Mazurek, Peninsula Clarion, May 15, 2019

While much of the discussion over the proposed Pebble Mine project in Bristol Bay has focused on its impact to the area’s fishing industry, the project’s potential impact to another species was up for debate at yesterday’s Joint Kenai/Soldotna Chamber Luncheon.  During a presentation, Sam Snyder with the Wild Salmon Center and Drew Hamilton with Friends of McNeil River shifted the focus to how the mine would affect brown bears.

Our Take:  This reporter must have left before the question and answer period where Sam and Drew flopped.  Sam started out his presentation by telling folks he had a PhD in fisheries management.  When one of the attendees pointed out that his educational credentials had more to do with religion than fish, he got flustered and angry – telling the crowd that he wrote his senior thesis on fisheries and that attacking the messenger wasn’t cool. (After he had just spent 15 minutes attacking the Army Corp of Engineers and the people who work for the Pebble Project.)  Drew talked about the dramatic increase in tourists participating in bear-viewing (from 400 to 4000 in just a few years) and the need to protect his business.  When participants pointed out that lots of pilots and lodge owners were complaining about the increase in bear watching activity and the negative impacts and the safety issues he replied  “yep – and we are trying to get that under control because we don’t want the government to regulate us.”  (After he had just talked about all the government regulation he wanted for a future  “could happen”  scenario.)  Hump-day hypocrisy was alive and well with the anti-Pebble folks yesterday! 

Exploration Gets Its Mojo Back
Andreas Exarheas, Rigzone, May 14, 2019

The exploration sector has got its mojo back, according to energy research and consultancy company Wood Mackenzie (WoodMac).  WoodMac, which recently completed its 11th annual exploration survey, said the study showed continued optimism and increased favour for high or big impact wells. Capital efficiency was given less importance in this year’s survey by respondents, as were returns on investment.  About 36 percent of those surveyed said they would be investing more on exploration this year, while only 13 percent had reduced their budgets from last year. Thirty-eight percent said they planned to drill more wells in 2019 while just ten percent of respondents expect their well count to be lower than in 2018.  Lower exploration costs, lower development costs and reduced cycle times were seen as the top three factors in returning exploration to a “value creation business”, according to the survey. Less project complexity, a rising oil price and technology were some of the other reasons listed.

Resource potential expands at Alaska graphite prospect
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, May 15, 2019

The potential of a unique Western Alaska mineral deposit keeps growing as its developers inch closer to making it a mine.

Stan Foo, chief operating officer of Graphite One Inc., told a gathering of the Alaska Support Industry Alliance on May 9 in Anchorage that infill drilling done last year at the company’s Graphite Creek prospect on the Seward Peninsula helped significantly increase the resource estimates for the deposit.

“We’re very excited about the improvements we made. We increased the resource by about 14 percent last year,” Foo said.  Located on the northern face of the Kigluaik Mountains about 40 miles north of Nome, the Graphite Creek deposit holds measured and indicated resources estimated at nearly 11 million metric tons of ore at an average grade of about 8 percent graphite.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

MANCHIN, MURKOWSKI URGE FOR CONGRESS TO ‘PUT MONEY WHERE MOUTHS ARE’ ON CARBON CAPTURE:  Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., called on Congress Thursday to support their legislation authorizing hundreds of millions of dollars to expand research and development of carbon capture technologies.

Carbon capture has emerged as a response to climate change that has bipartisan support.

“But we have got to put our money where our mouths are and enact strong, supportive legislation,” said Manchin, at an Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. “There should be no downside to supporting and accelerating [carbon capture] deployment on a large scale no matter where you are coming from on the political spectrum.”

Manchin, the committee’s top Democrat, and Murkowski, the chairwoman, focused the hearing on their bill introduced last month, the Enhancing Fossil Fuel Energy Carbon Technology Act of 2019.

What the bill would do: The legislation would create four new Energy Department carbon capture research and development programs.

One program would focus on lowering costs and improving efficiency and effectiveness of carbon capture and storage on coal and natural gas plants. Another would boost efforts to commercialize the captured carbon for other uses. A third program would center on improving carbon capture for alternative uses, such as for industrial plants.

And the bill also creates a carbon removal program to aid “direct air capture” technologies being developed to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere.

“We need to think of all the ways we can skin this cat,” Manchin said. “Removing CO2 from the ambient air is one of those things. This is the moonshot and we need to get behind it right now.”

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Headlamp – China’s big three wouldn’t sign long-term LNG contracts with US before the tariffs.

May 15, 2019 | Posted in : News

Will Chinese Tariffs Hurt U.S. LNG?
Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 15, 2019

On May 13, China announced that it would increase tariffs on many U.S. products, including liquefied natural gas (LNG). This the second time that China has targeted U.S. LNG: it set a 10 percent tariff in September 2018, which reduced flows to almost zero. The new tariff, at 25 percent starting June 1, will likely end the LNG trade between the two countries (for now). This escalation is widely interpreted as a major blow to U.S. LNG exports. It is certainly a blow, but even that statement should be followed by several asterisks.  Since 2010, when the United States emerged as a prospective LNG supplier, U.S. exporters have tried to secure long-term sales contracts with Chinese customers—but to little avail. There were various attempts over the years, although mostly with second-tier players, rather than the big three Chinese national oil companies (CNPC, Sinopec, and CNOOC). But the deals were never consummated. The sense was that the Chinese companies, which were perfectly willing to sign long-contracts with everyone else, simply did not trust the United States. No amount of lobbying and reassurance from the U.S. side changed that fact.


                UPDATE 1-U.S. LNG companies Cheniere and Tellurian see U.S.-China trade spat as short term


From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

TRUMP CALLS THE GREEN NEW DEAL A ‘HOAX’: Trump attacked the Green New Deal Tuesday, claiming the progressive plan to fight climate change “might be a bigger hoax” than the Russian investigation.

“The Green New Deal is a hoax like the hoax I just went through,” Trump said during his speech in Louisiana. “I’m not sure, it might even be a bigger one. And mine was pretty big.”

Trump told the audience of energy industry workers that if the Green New Deal were implemented, “everybody in this room gets fired” because backers of the plan “don’t like clean, beautiful natural gas.”


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Headlamp – Investment in fossil fuels is up!! Jimmy Fallon’s case against renewables.

May 14, 2019 | Posted in : News

Global energy investments rebound, thanks to fossil fuels
Amy Harder, Axios, May 13, 2019

Global energy investments stabilized last year after three years of decline, due to greater spending on oil, natural gas and coal, according to a new International Energy Agency report just published.  What they’re saying: Fatih Birol, IEA executive director, says that “the world is not investing enough in traditional elements of supply to maintain today’s consumption patterns, nor is it investing enough in cleaner energy technologies to change course. Whichever way you look, we are storing up risks for the future.”

Report highlights:

  • Coal comeback: Coal supply investment increased for the first time since 2012, up 2% between 2017 and 2018.
  • Distribution disparities: Just 14% of energy investment dollars in 2018 went to regions where 42% of the world’s population live.
  • Chinese dominance: China spends nearly 0.08% of its GDP on energy research and development, and it’s widening the gap compared to the rest of the world (whose spending is less than 0.05% per GDP).
  • Battery boost: Investment in battery storage rose by 45% between 2017 and 2018 to a record $4 billion.
  • Oil imbalance: Oil spending levels would need to drop to meet the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goals, but they also “fall well short of what would be needed in a world of continued strong oil demand.”

Our Take:   We present Jimmy Fallon’s irrefutable case against “renewables”: 

 “New Scientist Magazine reported on Wednesday that in the future, cars can be powered by hazelnuts. That’s encouraging considering an eight-ounce jar of hazelnuts costs about nine dollars. Yeah, I got an idea for a car that runs on bald eagle heads and Faberge eggs.”


From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:

MURKOWSKI SEEKS TO RESOLVE ‘ACHILLES HEEL’ OF MINERAL DEPENDENCE: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed optimism Tuesday that Congress will finally address the U.S.’ “Achilles heel” of relying on other countries for critical minerals.

“We are going to get it done,” Murkowski said at a hearing hosted by her committee. “This is our Achilles heel for competitive, manufacturing, and geopolitics.”

The hearing focused on a bill introduced this month by Murkowski and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the committee’s top Democrat, that would streamline the federal permitting process for developing mines for lithium, graphite, and other minerals critical to developing batteries that power electric vehicles. The bill would also require a nationwide accounting of all minerals available in the U.S. to make EVs.

Murkowski noted the U.S. last year imported at least 50% of 48 different types of minerals, and 100% of 18 of them, according to data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey.

China, the leading market for EVs and a manufacturing powerhouse, is the primary supplier of 26 of the 48 minerals where the U.S. has an importing dependence. Manchin said he hopes to break China’s “stronghold” on the minerals market, but “I don’t know if we ‘ll ever be price competitive with China,” given their head start.

Our Take:  We appreciate these words from Senator Steve Daines  of MT – “wind farms and solar panels don’t grow naturally in the wild.   You have to mine and refine raw materials to make them.  If the U.S. wants to be a leader in renewable energy, we also have to be a leader in responsible mining.” 

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Alaska LNG funding Arctic icebreakers? China chooses state over private sector.

May 13, 2019 | Posted in : News

Alaska LNG exports proposed to fund Arctic icebreakers and ports
John Gallagher, FreightWaves, May 11, 2019

Revenues generated from Alaskan energy exports could be the key to closing a wide infrastructure gap that some assert has left the U.S. a decade behind its competition. Testifying on Capitol Hill on May 8, Mead Treadwell, an Arctic policy expert from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., predicted liquefied natural gas (LNG) the “next big wave” of economic activity in the region that could help fund ice-breaking ships and deep-water ports. “[The Russians] are bringing 16.5 million tons of LNG from the Yamal [LNG project] through the Bering Strait [en route to Asia] 2,600 miles through the ice, while we’ve got big fields in Prudhoe Bay [Alaska] that are lying fallow” that would require just 600 miles through the ice zone, Treadwell asserted to lawmakers at a maritime subcommittee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Xi Jinping’s China: why entrepreneurs feel like second-class citizens
Tom Hancock, Financial Times, May 13, 2019

Born into extreme poverty in rural China, Liu Chonghua amassed enough wealth selling cakes to the country’s emerging middle class to build himself six European-style castles. Five are tourist attractions, but the grandest of all was designed as a home: a grey stone structure resembling Britain’s Windsor Castle, built on land the 65-year-old entrepreneur acquired from the government of the southwestern city of Chongqing in the 1990s. Mr. Liu’s tale is one of many rags-to-riches stories in China’s transition to a more market-oriented economy. When Hurun published its first ranking of China’s wealthiest people in 1999, it found just 50 with assets above $6m. The list now features nearly 2,000 individuals worth more than $300m — the tip of China’s sprawling private sector. Non-existent four decades ago, private enterprise today accounts for 60 per cent of China’s economic output and 80 percent of urban employment in 2017, according to official statistics.

Our Take: “The state advances as the private sector retreats.” Chilling.

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

CHINA PLANS TO RAISE TARIFFS ON US GOODS, INCLUDING LNG: China retaliated against the Trump administration’s escalated trade war on Monday, with the country’s finance ministry announcing plans to raise tariffs on a range of U.S. goods to 20% or 25% from 10%. The list of targeted goods includes U.S. liquified natural gas, which will be hit by a 25% tariff. The strengthened tariffs do not include American crude oil.

China is delaying the implementation of the heightened tariffs until June 1, to provide time for negotiators. But industry officials have warned that Trump’s trade war with China is threatening to discourage the world’s fastest growing LNG market from signing long-term contracts with American developers.

Whereas oil is fungible, buyers of LNG demand long-term contracts, in the 20-year range. Other countries, including Russia, Qatar, Canada, and Mozambique can offer LNG at competitive rates, despite the U.S. cheap prices. China’s demand for LNG is soaring, and it is relying more on the U.S., which is expected to soon be a top three global exporter of LNG.

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Global Gas Strategy for US:   It ain’t easy being green

May 10, 2019 | Posted in : News

A Global Gas Strategy for the United States
Nikos Tsafos, Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 9, 2019

Natural gas, unlike oil, has never been a major strategic preoccupation for U.S. foreign policy. The country was historically a net gas importer, but self-sufficiency was relatively high, and imports came mostly from Canada, raising few geopolitical or energy security concerns. In the 2000s, the United States was worried that it might become reliant on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports, but that moment passed quickly. If the United States ever had a grand strategy vis-à-vis global gas, it could be summarized simply. In Europe, the United States wanted diversity of supply, which meant access to non-Russian gas; and in Asia, it wanted liquidity, meaning a relaxation of rigid contract terms and a move away from oil indexation as the pricing mechanism for LNG.

But the growth in U.S. gas supply, and now exports, has created a new reality. The United States is a major global gas player—by far the largest producer in the world, and quite possibly, in the 2020s, the largest LNG exporter. Yet this change has not produced a new grand strategy. So far, the instinct is to promote U.S. LNG exports—selling gas abroad is the number one priority, especially for the Trump administration. This is a logical place to start, but it is not enough, especially since the push is mostly in the form of advocacy, rather than accompanied by a serious policy agenda or toolkit to support exports or gas consumption. More than ever, the United States needs a new global gas strategy.

Our Take: Nikos Tsafos, a former consultant to the State of Alaska on oil and gas issues, makes a great case for a global gas strategy for the US.

‘Eco-colonialism’: Rift grows between Indigenous leaders and green activists
Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post, January 4, 2018

With flowing long hair, stoic expression and tribal garb, Martin Louie, the hereditary chief of the Nadleh Whut’en First Nation in north-central British Columbia, more than looked and acted the part of an aggrieved leader in the epic fight against the Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline. He was quoted in the campaign’s news releases, filed complaints to the United Nations and spoke defiantly to investors. Environmental group even described him as the “poster boy” for Indigenous opposition to Enbridge Inc.’s pipeline. The $7-billion pipeline was eventually cancelled last year, but Louie didn’t actually want to sink the project. Lost in the heat of the public battle was that he really just wanted to win more money for his impoverished community than the “ridiculous” $70,000 a year being offered by the company.

Our Take: An oldie but a goodie. A reminder of the “ends justify the means” policy that green activists follow in order to stop resource development – no matter who they hurt.

Wheeler: Trump admin might ‘re-examine’ climate science
Jean Chemnick, E & E Climatewire, May 10, 2019

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler used an overseas gathering of environment ministers this week to hint that the United States might overhaul the way it uses climate data and modeling. Five days after his assertion was included in an official document from the Group of Seven meeting in Metz, France, it remains unclear if Wheeler revealed a potential policy to reexamine climate modeling. It’s become common for the United States to have its own climate and energy paragraph in multilateral statements, and on Monday, Wheeler broke away from the six other nations on issues like the Paris Agreement, providing support for poor and climate-affected countries, and overseas investments in fossil fuels

US State Department announces plans for a diplomatic presence in Greenland
Krestia DeGeorge, Arctic Today, May 9, 2019

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that it plans to establish a presence in Greenland. The announcement was made as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled a planned visit there to return to Washington, D.C. early from a trip that included his participation in the Arctic Council’s biannual ministerial meeting in Finland. It included few details, such as a timeline and whether the presence would be a full-fledged consulate or take some other form. The announcement was quickly welcomed by Greenland, a self-governing nation within the Kingdom of Denmark which has recently expanded its own representations abroad, and now has a diplomatic presence in Washington, Ottawa, Copenhagen, Brussels and Reykjavik. “Greenland is a part of North America. Not only geographically, but also through our ethnicity, culture and language, which we share with Inuit across Alaska and Arctic Canada,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs Ane Lone Bagger in a statement. “However, despite our geographical closeness, cooperation and economic exchange between Greenland and the U.S. could be much more evident.”

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Urbanites put a chill on CO oil investment. Pipeline challenge fails on standing

May 9, 2019 | Posted in : News

New Colorado environmental law stalls oil investment
Laila Kearney, David French, Reuters, May 9, 2019

New environmental regulations in Colorado have chilled investment in the state’s oil and gas fields as companies grapple with how local officials will respond to a law giving them more power to restrict energy production. Colorado now ranks fifths among U.S. states in oil production at about 500,000 barrel per day, up from just 90,000 barrels in 2010. That boom, however, has come just as state politics has shifted to the left with an influx of urbanites who tend to oppose fossil-fuel development.

Our Take: Uncertainty has “nearly halted energy deal activity.”   Uncertainty is the enemy of investment and Alaska has, unfortunately, had a history of creating uncertainty for the state’s biggest industry.   As the state comes out of a recession and the industry continues to invest, create jobs, pay taxes – a good lesson to remember.

Landmark FERC pipeline challenge fails
Pamela King E & E News, My 9, 2019

An appellate court today tossed a lawsuit targeting a federal plan to significantly narrow climate analyses for natural gas infrastructure. During oral arguments last month, judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit seemed skeptical of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s defense of its drastic climate policy shift (Energywire, April 12). But the case failed on the question of whether the plaintiff in the case, the small New York environmental nonprofit Otsego 2000, had standing to bring the challenge. “Otsego’s affidavits do not identify any injury other than the organization’s expenditure of time and money related to this litigation,” the court wrote in a short order today.

Our Take: Victory! Alaska knows all-to-well the damage that outside organizations can do to responsible resource development. Good to see a judge recognizing that the only damage is to the outside organization’s pocketbook! Case. Closed.

Trump: China ‘broke the deal’ in trade talks
CNBC, May 9, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday that China “broke the deal” in the ongoing U.S.-China trade talks. Speaking at a rally in Florida, the president attributed his recent threat of increased tariffs to Beijing’s negotiating position. “By the way, you see the tariffs we’re doing? Because they broke the deal. They broke the deal,” Trump said. “So they’re flying in, the vice premier tomorrow is flying in — good man — but they broke the deal. They can’t do that, so they’ll be paying.”


                  Escalation of China trade battle threatens US liquefaction development

From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:

EXXON TEAMS UP WITH FEDERAL LABS ON CARBON CAPTURE: Exxon Mobil, the biggest private oil company in the world, announced Wednesday one of the largest deals with the Trump administration meant to make low-emission technology a commercial reality in the next decade.

The oil company will invest $100 million over 10 years to advance the technology in collaboration with the two largest federal energy technology labs overseen by the Energy Department: The Colorado-based National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the West Virginia-based National Energy Technology Lab.

The announcement comes as the company has faced increasing calls by shareholders to be transparent about its greenhouse gas emissions and set carbon pollution reduction targets. It has also faced legal scrutiny by New York’s attorney general over allegations it tried to hide the true cost of climate change.

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Door not closed on offshore drilling; College students and Climate Change

May 8, 2019 | Posted in : News

Interior chief says offshore drilling plan not ‘indefinitely sidelined’
Rebecca Beitsch, The Hill, May 7, 2019

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Tuesday the department will complete development of a five-year offshore drilling plan, despite earlier comments that plan had been put on hold. Responding to questions from Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) in reference to a Wall Street Journal interview in which he said the the plan had been indefinitely sidelined, Bernhardt said the department still has a few more years to complete its plan before a new one is required in 2022. Pingree, who referred to offshore drilling as universally opposed in Maine, pushed Bernhardt to take it completely off the table. The Interior chief assured her that state concerns would be paramount in making a determination. “I’m not aware of a single lease that was ever developed over the opposition of a state,” he said.

The college perspective on climate change
Amy Harder, Axios, May 6, 2019

America’s youngest voters are more worried about climate change, more supportive of big government and more likely to identify as Democrats than older generations.   Why it matters: By Election Day 2020, millennials and those in the younger generation known as Gen Z will represent more than a third of eligible voters, according to a recent survey by Harvard University. The poll found that more than 50% of likely voters between 18 and 29 say the government should do more to curb climate change, even at the expense of economic growth.


For the first time ever, an Arctic Council ministerial meeting has ended without a joint declaration
Martin Breum, Arctic Today, May 7, 2019

A meeting of all eight Arctic foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, ended on Tuesday in Rovaniemi, Finland without a joint declaration to signal common ambitions and direction for the work of the Arctic Council for the coming two years. This is the first Arctic Council ministerial meeting to end without such a declaration. Two months of intense negotiations, including last-minute efforts in advance of the Rovaniemi meeting, was not enough to forge consensus between U.S. delegates, Indigenous people’s representatives and delegates from the other seven Arctic states on wording and ambitions on climate change. The presence of the ministers themselves was not enough to soften U.S. opposition to any mention of climate change in the declaration.

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What harm to Alaska by paying a $3000 PFD? Business community survey says, “a lot”.

May 7, 2019 | Posted in : News

Special committee appointed to finalize budget, PFD payout
Steve Quinn, KTVA, May 6, 2019

Negotiations over Alaska’s operating budget now rest in the hands of six lawmakers, three each from the state House and Senate. House Finance Committee co-chairs Reps. Neal Foster, D-Nome, and Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, and committee member Rep. Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla, represent the House. Senate Finance co-chairs Sens. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka and Natasha von Imhof, R-Anchorage, plus committee member Sen. Donny Olson, D-Bethel, represent the Senate. The committee will hold its first meeting on Tuesday afternoon, but it’s listed as just an organizational hearing. The most significant difference between the two chambers’ budget proposals lies with the Permanent Fund dividend. The House did not include a dividend in its budget, saying it would wait for further discussions with the Senate. The Senate proposed a $3,000 dividend, but it would take another $1.2 billion from either a savings account or the fund’s earnings reserve, which has close to $18 billion.

Our Take: Here we are in the final hours of a heated budget discussion – 6 legislators will be making critical decisions this week. According to recent polling of Alaska Support Industry Alliance members, we believe that a vast majority of business owners in Alaska would prefer a reduced PFD in the ballpark of $1,200-$1,600 coupled with spending cuts in the $300 million range and a spending cap that works.  The polling also indicates thousands of Alaskans are okay with a reduced PFD if it means avoiding drastic cuts to state services all in one year. A clear message from the poll? Instability in the business community, created by passing a budget that drastically reduces state services, pays a $3000 dividend and leaves a $1.2 billion hole to fill, could do great harm to Alaska’s economy.

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New leader, new plan for ANWR?; Donlin invests locally

May 6, 2019 | Posted in : News

Ex-energy lobbyist tapped to oversee fish, wildlife and parks
Michael Doyle, E&E News, May 3, 2019

The White House today announced an intention to nominate Wyoming resident, former energy company lobbyist and Capitol Hill veteran Robert Wallace to a key position overseeing the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service.

“Without question, Rob is the right person for this job,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). “Throughout his long and distinguished career, Rob has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to striking the proper balance between wildlife conservation, habitat management and use of our public land.”

Our take: We wonder if Wallace will stand by the Department’s stance of selection of the most conservative option for the ANWR DEIS.

Russia approves €1 billion LNG transshipment terminal on Kola coast
Atle Staalesen, ArcticToday, May 1, 2019

The Russian federal government intends to spend 70 billion rubles (€965 million) on the construction of a new major Arctic terminal for storage and reloading of LNG. The project investment plan was this week approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. It is to stand ready for operations in year 2023.

The government document does not specifically say where in the Kola Peninsula the new terminal is to be built. However, Novatek has earlier made clear that it wants it to be located in Ura Guba, the fjord that houses one of the Northern Fleet’s most important naval bases.

Pompeo announces new sanctions on Iran’s nuclear power complex
John Siciliano, Washington Examiner, May 4, 2019

 The tightening on sanctions on Iran’s nuclear power complex is meant to curb its ability to refine uranium and mitigate its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Pompeo said Iran would not be able to return to the negotiating table until it ceases all activities related to, or associated with, the construction of a nuclear weapon.

Donlin Gold Looks To Schools, Workforce Development For Future Employees
KYUK, Krysti Shallenberger, May 3, 2019

Donlin is preparing to hire more than 100 people for the final drilling program for its dam safety certification. Those jobs will only last a year, but Donlin also is playing the long game. They help fund scholarships from Calista Corporation and The Kuskokwim Corporation, which own the surface and mineral rights. Donlin also gives money to the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program or ANSEP.

Our take: Wonderful to hear about companies investing in young Alaskans and helping them build skills. Nothing says “Alaska is open for business” more than training youth for jobs that will keep them in our state and engaged in our economy. We heard about similar community investment policies from Northern Star Resources at our Fairbanks luncheon last week.

From the Daily on Energy:

TRUMP SILENT AS TAINTED RUSSIAN OIL SURGES ACROSS EUROPE: The Trump administration offered little or no response to an oil crisis wreaking havoc across Europe, one that Russia’s state-run oil company admitted was intentionally caused by one of its subsidiaries.

Transneft said last week that one of its local companies contaminated millions of barrels of oil flowing into several European countries from Russia, forcing Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia and other countries to halt imports.

The oil was contaminated with organic elements that would damage refineries in the recipient countries, according to Reuters.

An opportunity for U.S., ignored by the Trump administration: Trump donor and Canary CEO Dan Eberhardt tells John the oil crisis is “a wake-up call” for Europe that it cannot depend on Russian energy supplies, and an opportunity that the U.S. should seize upon.

The Trump administration believes dependence on Russian natural gas makes Europe strategically vulnerable. President Trump wants Europe to diversify its supply by importing more U.S. natural gas.

Eberhardt’s company is one of the largest manufacturers of well components for oil drillers in the United States.

“It could take months to clean up the Druzhba pipeline and dilute all the contaminated oil,” Eberhardt predicts. “In the meantime, refiners in Central and Eastern Europe are going to need to find alternative supplies.”

He says Transneft is a state-owned monopoly, so it will be difficult for Russia to escape the blame for the tainted supply. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last week that the tainted supply woes will cost Russia’s reputation as a dependable supplier.

“EU leaders may not care much for President Trump, but they have to admit that the US is a much better trading partner than Russia — especially when it comes to something as critical to security as oil and gas supplies,” Eberhardt said.

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