Trump’s ANWR push: Will it really yield much oil?
Heather Richards, E&E News, August 12, 2019
ANWR’s coastal plain also lies in a straight line between successful discoveries in Alaska and successful discoveries in Canada. In the mid-1980s, a group of companies paid for two-dimensional seismic data to map the region’s subsurface potential, revealing a complex spectrum of possible hydrocarbon locations, said David Houseknecht, a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey and a national expert on the rock lying under ANWR’s coastal plain.
At 7 billion barrels of possible oil to recover — the mean estimate from USGS in a 1998 study — the plain could offer reserves available through conventional drilling at amounts unheard of in today’s oil exploration environment, said Houseknecht.
To get that kind of oil by conventional means — just drilling down and tapping a bathtub full of crude — wildcatters would normally have to look to politically risky regions of the world or in deep waters offshore, like in the Gulf of Mexico, where exploration and production firms are concentrating more of their offshore efforts.
“There are just very few opportunities for companies to explore for billion-barrel oil accumulation,” Houseknecht said.
And though drilling in the far north carries a hefty cost, a larger oil field could offset spending compared to the long, horizontal wells backed up by massive hydraulic fracturing techniques in shale plays like Texas’ Eagle Ford.
Alaska has a lot on the line in ANWR.
Our take: Time to answer the age-old mystery of how much oil sits beneath the surface in ANWR: Drill some wells and find out.
Conservation groups ask DEC to reconsider Palmer Project permits
Claire Stremple, KTOO, August 10, 2019
Constantine Metal Resources cleared several major milestones towards developing a mine at the Palmer Project this year. Among them was getting all the necessary regulatory permits and approvals to expand their exploration operations next year. Conservation groups say the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation rubber stamped the company’s plans with inadequate data. They are appealing the permit decision.
“There are details of the permit itself that we think are, were really done poorly,” said Gershon Cohen, the Executive Director of Alaska Clean Water Advocacy. He’s among those asking that the permit be sent back to the agency.
“The fact that they would go forward with this permit shows that the agencies are not there for us,” said Cohen.
Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, August 8, 2019Chris Birch, a longtime Anchorage Assembly member who shifted to the Legislature in 2016, died suddenly Wednesday of an apparent heart attack, according to several colleagues.
Birch, a Republican, was in his first term as a state senator and served as chair of the Senate Resources Committee.
Birch spent nine years on the Anchorage Assembly representing South Anchorage. A retired engineer, he worked for mining companies as well as serving as senior engineer for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
Our take: Sen. Chris Birch was a long-time Alliance member and advocate for responsible resource development in Alaska. To borrow language from another legislator: “We will miss him in the Capital, in our community, and out on the trails. [Our] deepest condolences to his family and friends.” Chris Birch was a great Alaskan, and will be dearly missed.
Hilcorp clears some regulatory hurdles to conduct a seismic survey in lower Cook Inlet
Renee Gross, KBBI, August 6, 2019
The Texas energy company had originally hoped to conduct the roughly 45-to-60 day survey earlier this year. However, due to concerns about the effect of the survey during the fishing season as well as permitting delays, its plans were pushed back.
Hilcorp still needs a permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. But on Tuesday, the regulator released an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact. The bureau said the seismic survey, roughly 370 square miles, would have negligible effects on marine life and birds.
In a related development, NOAA announced provisions last week allowing Hilcorp’s proposed oil and gas activities across Cook Inlet. The authorization says its aim is to minimize harm to marine mammals over the next five years.
Our take: Kudos to Hilcorp for listening to public feedback and delaying their survey. Naturally, even when the appropriate regulatory steps are taken, someone will make a fuss. Cook Inletkeeper is concerned that, “‘Those monitoring activities don’t do anything for plankton and fish[.]’” Last we checked, fish and plankton were ‘marine life’, and BOEM says they won’t be impacted.
Oil slumps 5% to seven-month low on trade tensions, surprise U.S. stock build
Collin Eaton, Reuters, August 6, 2019
After seven weeks of consecutive crude drawdowns, “there was a thought that today’s report would turn oil’s fortunes around,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “That support got taken out of the market.”
Brent has plunged more than 12% after U.S. President Donald Trump said last week that he would slap a 10% tariff on a further $300 billion in Chinese imports from Sept. 1, sending global equity markets into a tailspin.
Our take: Shocker– oil prices go up, oil prices go down. The lesson here is to maintain policies that make investment attractive at a range of oil prices.
The Great American Oil And Natural Gas Pipeline Boom
Jude Clemente, Forbes, August 6, 2019
These build-outs are essential.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the majority of new power plants in this country will be natural gas, a hefty 235,000 MW of additional gas capacity in the coming decades.
It could actually be even higher given how low gas prices are.
Lowering the ability of other power sources to compete, some expect U.S. gas prices to not clear the $3 range until 2026 at the earliest
Gas pipelines are good for the environment too: BNEF reports that more natural gas “has done more to curb U.S. carbon emissions in the past decade than any other single factor, including new renewable build.”
Our take: More pipelines results in curbed emissions, safer transport, and increased access to a reliable energy source? Yes, please.
Dems want to kill oil and gas leasing. Here’s why it matters
Heather Richards and Timothy Cama, E&E News, August 6, 2019
The idea of stopping new leases is grounded in the notion that the U.S. government has a particular responsibility for emissions stemming from fossil fuels extracted from federal property or via transfers of government-owned mineral rights.
The U.S. Geological Survey concluded last year that fossil fuels from federal lands and waters account for 24% of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions throughout their life cycle.
Because the government oversees those resources, it has the power to dictate whether they are brought out of the ground in the first place, activists argue.
Regardless of the political viability, cutting federal leasing could have broad consequences — politically and financially — for swaths of the United States.
Thirty-five states receive money from offshore and onshore development, but most of that cash is concentrated in a few big winners — meaning Democrats’ promised action could have an outsize effect on those regions.
It would take years for production to be affected by simply barring new leases, and a crisis likely wouldn’t immediately hit communities that depend on federal development, said Mark Haggerty, an economist at Headwaters Economics in Montana.
“No one really argues [against] the need to move to renewables as quickly as possible,” said Eric Sondermann, an independent political analyst based in Colorado. “But there is a naiveté that is being promoted, that this can happen overnight or carte blanche across the board.”
Our take: A great read. Well summed up with the statement: “Moving the United States rapidly away from fossil fuels is an easy political chip for the Democratic candidates, though it’s likely an empty promise, experts say.” It must be fun to be able to campaign on empty promises. Recognizing that the United State should take steps to move in a greener direction is prudent. Mandating that states who rely on oil & gas production stop in their tracks is not. Not to mention the potential for lawsuits…
THE OFFICIAL FY19 OIL PRODUCTION NUMBERS ARE IN
Ed King, August 5, 2019
The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC), the state agency which tracks oil production across Alaska, has released the last of the FY19 oil production data.
All production companies are required to report the amount of oil, gas, and water they take out of the ground to AOGCC each month. Those numbers are all public information, free to download from the most user-friendly front-end database interfaces I work with. You can find it here.
This is the single best resource for understanding what is happening on the North Slope. While other state agency report numbers relevant to their own mission, it is the AOGCC data that should be considered the official government numbers.
Our take: Thanks Ed! Really great information and clear graphics.
With big questions remaining, Alaska Legislature’s second special session set to quietly end Tuesday
James Brooks, ADN, August 5, 2019
A special session that began with controversy and division will end Tuesday with no further legislative action.
The Alaska House of Representatives and Alaska Senate have canceled scheduled meetings, meaning the second special session of the 31st Alaska Legislature will reach its 30-day limit at midnight Wednesday morning.
Our take: Is that it?
From the Daily on Energy:
MURKOWSKI INTRODUCES BILL TO EXPAND CLEAN ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS: Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced Monday that she introduced legislation to expand the access of loans for clean energy infrastructure to allow for greater development of projects in small and rural communities.
Her bill would permit certain state financing entities to be eligible for the Energy Department’s Section 1703 loan guarantee program, making it easier for states to secure financing for projects.
Under the loan program, DOE partners with private entities and lenders by providing loan guarantees for clean energy infrastructure projects that typically struggle to earn sufficient private investment due to technological risk. The program supports projects that avoid, sequester, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon capture, industrial energy efficiency projects, and transmission lines to deliver wind and solar power.
“Right now, the department’s loan guarantee program is tailored more toward large projects, which inadvertently shuts out the projects needed in many smaller and rural communities,” said Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee “My goal here is to level the playing field so that state entities can access the loan guarantee program, bundle a number of smaller projects together, and then make them a reality to reduce local costs and emissions.”
Climate Could Be an Electoral Time Bomb, Republican Strategists Fear
Lisa Friedman, The New York Times, August 2, 2019
In conversations with 10 G.O.P. analysts, consultants and activists, all said they were acutely aware of the rising influence of young voters like Mr. Galloway, who in their lifetimes haven’t seen a single month of colder-than-average temperatures globally, and who call climate change a top priority. Those strategists said lawmakers were aware, too, but few were taking action.
“We’re definitely sending a message to younger voters that we don’t care about things that are very important to them,” said Douglas Heye, a former communications director at the Republican National Committee. “This spells certain doom in the long term if there isn’t a plan to admit reality and have legislative prescriptions for it.”
Our take: We heard it loud and clear at the annual AOGA conference: 47% of Americans care a great deal about climate issues (one of the top 5 issues in looking ahead to the 2020 elections). This article illustrates that bridging the gap between Right and Left to come up with solutions and not just lofty notions (*ahem* Green New Deal) is our best route forward. Once again, we echo the rallying cry of our friends at the American Conservation Coalition—advocating for free-market solutions to environmental woes.
LNG traders consider shipping options, betting on winter demand
Jessica Jaganathan, Reuters, August 2, 2019
With Asia LNG spot cargoes trading at below $4 per million British thermal units, traders may take the opportunity to buy the cargoes now for later use, especially as demand typically increases during winter for heating which in turn pushes up prices, the sources said.
Storing commodity cargoes on ships to sell at a later date to take advantage of the rising price for later-dated supplies, known as the contango carry trade, is common in oil markets but is considered risky for LNG because of high storage costs and because LNG cargoes evaporate over time.
Australia Looks to Siphon U.S. Oil Stockpile to Avoid Running Out of Gas
Rob Taylor, The Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019
It has more than 640 million barrels of oil stored in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. In contrast, Australia has mostly relied on oil stockpiles owned by major companies to meet its obligations to the IEA since joining in 1979.
A steep fall in Australia’s oil production and the closure of several refineries have complicated that approach, while lawmakers have balked at the billions of dollars in investment needed to build fuel stocks and storage infrastructure.
“Australia is reliant on traffic through the Strait of Hormuz for a percentage of our oil supplies so we’re doing everything that we can to be a good government and be prudent to make sure that we get a continuity of supply,” Mr. Taylor said.
From the Daily on Energy:
THE WORLD WILL STILL THIRST FOR FOSSIL FUELS IN 2040: Fossil fuels will still provide the vast majority of the world’s energy in 2040, according to new projections released by consultancy Wood Mackenzie, leaving the planet far short of the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
“The energy mix is not changing nearly as quickly as the world needs it to,” Wood Mackenzie president Neal Anderson wrote in an op-ed accompanying the report, released Friday.
The report, based on a “conservative” scenario, said coal, oil, and gas will provide 85% of the world’s primary energy supply by 2040.
The forecast illustrates the scale of the ambition in Democratic presidential candidates’ plans for the U.S. economy to reach net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2050, phase out the use of fossil fuels, and expand investments into renewable sources. The U.S. emits about 15% of the world’s carbon pollution.
It also comes after United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned countries last week ahead of a major Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23 that they must increase their targets to limit greenhouse gas emissions in order to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Our take: More reason to be skeptical about calls for “banning” fossil fuels, or even severely curbing this use, in the short term. The world needs traditional sources of energy today, and for years into the future.
Groups sue for information on Arctic refuge lease sale
Dan Joling, Associated Press, July 31, 2019
An Alaska Native organization and three environmental groups sued the U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday, claiming its agencies withheld information regarding preparations for the sale of oil and gas leases in the massive Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
The lawsuit filed in Anchorage claims the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not provide public information in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
The groups sought information on an application by a company to conduct three-dimensional seismic exploration using 90,000-pound (40,825-kilogram) vibrator trucks and mobile camps that could disturb denning polar bears.
The four plaintiffs — the Gwich’in Steering Committee, Alaska Wilderness League, Defenders of Wildlife and The Wilderness Society — object to the planned leasing later this year in the refuge in northeast Alaska.
Our take: And the cycle continues. Outside voices speaking for the people directly affected by the opportunity to develop. According to an article published last week, “A recent poll of 93 people conducted by Kaktovik’s city government found half in favor of oil development in the coastal plain, 30 percent opposed and the rest undecided.” Maybe we should allow those in the immediate vicinity to have a voice, rather than claiming to speak for them in a thinly veiled attempt to stop progress.
Trump promised offshore jobs. That’s not happening
Heather Richards, E&E News, August 1, 2019
Since 2014, 1 out of 5 jobs that existed in the Houma-Thibodaux area — the heart of the Gulf’s service industry — vanished, representing about 16,000 jobs swallowed as a result of the oil price bust that year, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Many of those job losses preceded the 2016 presidential election, but they have not returned, despite Trump administration officials making expansion of offshore drilling a key plank in federal energy policy.
Politico reported in February that the Trump administration had handed out almost 1,700 safety rule exemptions to offshore drillers. The most common exemption was for Obama-era standards for blowout preventers that were put in place following the Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 10 workers in 2010. The Trump administration has since officially loosened those standards, and green groups have responded with a lawsuit.
Despite that support, the workforce of the country’s main offshore oil and gas region continues to dwindle and may not ever return to what it once was, experts say. Gulf lease sales by the federal government also have been fairly flat in recent years, with occasional exceptions. Part of the challenge is that regulations do not drive oil and gas decisions, according to analysts.
From the Daily on Energy:
REPUBLICAN SENATORS TO INTRODUCE BILL ENSHRINING EPA’S WOTUS ROLLBACK: Republican Senators Mike Braun of Indiana and Joni Ernst of Iowa are introducing legislation Thursday that would enshrine into law the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule.
Braun’s office confirmed to me the pending release of the bill, set for later Thursday, dubbed the “Define WOTUS Act.”
“President Trump and his Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working hard to fix this atrocious Obama-era rule. But as the Administration has repeatedly noted, it’s Congress’s job to write laws. The Define WOTUS Act will solidify and amplify the Administration’s work on WOTUS,” Braun said in a statement.
The Obama administration’s 2015 WOTUS rule expanded federal water protections to small rivers and streams to protect them from pollution. The Trump EPA’s proposed changes, announced in December, would narrow how “navigable waterways” are defined under the Clean Water Act, siding with farmers, ranchers, and developers who said the broader rule violated their property rights, forcing them to protect the streams and tributaries that flow through their land.
Our take: Carry on, senators. WOTUS was and is a terrible idea. Time to put a stake through its heart.
EPA walks back restriction that loomed over Pebble mine, paving the way for key permit
Elwood Brehmer, ADN, July 30, 2019
EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick on Tuesday signed a 28-page notice at the direction of agency leaders that formally removes the agency’s proposed “preemptive veto” that loomed over the Pebble project since it was initiated under former President Barack Obama’s administration in 2014.
The move was applauded by Pebble supporters and criticized by opponents.
Pebble CEO Tom Collier said in an interview that, “This is a good day for Pebble. It’s a day I wish had happened much sooner, but it’s a good day for Pebble.”
Our take: Good on the EPA and good for Pebble. The Alliance continues to advocate for a fair and defined permitting process for all resource development projects, and it is refreshing to see the EPA finally agree. Hopefully, this development sends a message that Alaska is, in fact, open for business.
Why energy companies are still investing gasoline in the age of the electric vehicle
Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle, July 30, 2019
As Shell’s largest research and development center, the 200-acre Houston campus has 1,500 employees and hundreds of contractors. They’re working on everything from formulating new biodiesel to advancing liquefied natural gas into transportation fuels. Their research also extends into something more tangible in the near term: how to improve gasoline.
Even as Shell opens hydrogen-fuel filling stations in California, invests millions of dollars in electric vehicle startups and develops biofuels, it is still pouring billions in research for advancing its core product, fossil fuels. Shell and other oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil and BP, are investing in clean technologies — and launching public relations campaigns to tout their initiatives — but their fortunes are still tied to traditional cars and the billions of people that drive them.
While automakers such as Ford, Volkswagen and GM boost electric vehicle production, EVs still lag behind traditional cars. There were about 1.1 million electric cars on American roadways in last year, up 361,0000 from the previous year, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. But overall electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids still accounted for less than 2 percent of the U.S. auto market, according to the IEA.
“We put a lot of focus on time and effort around gasoline vehicles because still the majority of people who are on the road today are going to be in gasoline (powered car),” said Shannon Bryan, North America fuels manager at Shell.
Appropriators seek answers on proposed BLM move
Kellie Lunney and Geof Koss, E&E News, July 31, 2019
Senate appropriators want more details about the Trump administration’s proposed relocation of hundreds of Bureau of Land Management jobs from Washington, D.C., to several Western states.
Murkowski said she has some “just basic questions that we need to run through” about Bernhardt’s plan, which she has already indicated support for.
“I’ve always felt that the closer we can get our public lands managers to our public lands that they are managing, the better off we should be,” the chairwoman said.
Of the 550 positions the department studied for its relocation proposal, 60 would stay in the Washington area, including jobs related to budget, legislative affairs and regulatory issues.
‘That is criminal activity.’ Dems clash on scope of action
Mark K Matthews, E&E News, July 31, 2019
Climate change turned into a flashpoint at last night’s Democratic debate when most of the 10 candidates jumped into an argument about the best way to fight rising temperatures without wrecking the American economy.
“As we transition to this clean energy economy, you have got to recognize there are folks that have spent their whole life powering our country,” Bullock said. “And far too often Democrats sound like they’re part of the problem.”
Our take: Bullock seems to be the only one in the Dem v Dem squabble to understand the key issue underlying the Green New Deal and its fantasy policies. Large energy companies are already making considerable investments in renewable energy; undermining them and their workforce just throws up roadblocks.
ALASKA BY THE NUMBERS – JULY 2019
Ed King, July 29, 2019
[Oil prices] in July 2019, the first month of FY19, averaged $65.82. There was surprisingly little volatility in the daily oil prices in July, even as some events in the Middle East, that would normally cause panic, were merely shrugged off.
The EIA short-term energy outlook for July sees Brent prices averaging $67 in CY20. If the current ANS premium holds, it would imply an ANS price for FY19 of right around $68.
Of course, the market is always adjusting to changing conditions. And right now, there is a lot of uncertainty in the market. Current options trading implies a 95% confidence interval for ANS of $45 and $92.
Exclusive: First big U.S. offshore wind project hits snag due to fishing-industry concerns
Nichola Groom, Reuters, July 28, 2019
Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Inc (AGR.N), was scheduled to begin construction this year 14 miles (23 km) off the coast of Massachusetts to power more than 400,000 homes by 2021 – making it the first large-scale offshore wind development in the United States.But a federal environmental study crucial to its permitting has been repeatedly delayed since April, according to published government timelines, without any public explanation from Trump administration officials. Vineyard Wind has said the delays could threaten the project’s viability.
Documents seen by Reuters, which have not previously been made public, show the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) triggered the delays by declining to sign off on the project’s design, as proposed by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the lead agency on offshore wind projects.
Vineyard Wind said earlier this month that it told federal officials it would be “very challenging” to move forward with the project in its current configuration if the environmental permit is not issued within four to six weeks. The company wants to start construction soon to lock in a federal tax credit that expires next year. The credit is currently worth 12% of the value of the project.
Our take: It must be a bummer when environmentalists stymie themselves when they realize that green infrastructure involves…infrastructure. Here in Alaska, we know this story all too well. The Alliance continues to support responsible development and hopes that projects like this open the eyes of those who seek alternative energy sources to the dangers of overregulating.
Natural Gas Is Stuck in a Vicious Cycle
Lauren Silva Laughlin, The Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2019
U.S. natural-gas demand, which reached nearly 30 trillion cubic feet in 2018, up from 22 trillion in 2005, when prices peaked at about seven times today’s level, is projected to grow by 7% a year in 2019 and 2020, according to EIA projections. That should slow considerably, but the agency doesn’t see prices rising consistently above $4 per million British thermal units before 2035, given ample supply.
From the Daily on Energy:
LOOKING TO HEAD OFF REGULATION, OIL & GAS INDUSTRY TOUTS VOLUNTARY METHANE REDUCTIONS: The oil and gas industry is touting voluntary efforts to cut emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon, as it tries to make the case against climate change regulations and mandates that have been proposed by Democrats running for president.
The American Petroleum Institute released its first progress report Tuesday on a voluntary program it started with 27 oil and gas companies in 2017 called The Environmental Partnership, which it created to limit leaks of methane and reduce emissions of related pollutants called volatile organic compounds.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is more potent than carbon dioxide, although its emissions don’t last as long in the atmosphere. Gas emits half the carbon of coal, making it the cleanest fossil fuel.
The stakes for industry: Environmental groups say methane leaks — which can happen purposely or accidentally during the production and transmission of gas — belie the industry’s attempt to sell gas as a “fuel of the future” rather than one that is phased out over coming decades as part of aggressive climate change plans proposed by Democrats.
“What our industry is really focused on is not pledges from politicians but progress from this industry,” Mike Sommers, API’s CEO, told reporters on a press call Tuesday. “The Environmental Partnership has demonstrated the progress that has occurred.”
Report card: Sommers, along with Matthew Todd, program director of the Environmental Partnership, shared the results of the program’s first ever annual report. The report showed how the partnership, which has grown to 66 members representing more than 80% of the top U.S. natural gas producers, has implemented a methane leak detection and repair program.
Companies conducted more than 156,000 leak surveys in 2018 across more than 78,000 production sites, finding a “leak rate” of only 0.16%. In the Permian Basin, the most prolific shale gas producing region, methane emissions relative to production have fell nearly 40% from 2011 to 2017, the report said.
“The very low leak rate we found is great performance,” Todd said.
Missing information, with no emissions reduction target: But the partnership does not require companies to disclose how many of those surveys it was forced to conduct because of federal or state regulations. That means it’s unclear how much of that work happened as a result of voluntary actions.
The partnership, notably, also does not require any overarching emission reduction goal for participating companies that are combating methane leaks, and the report did not measure the amount of emissions cuts that have occurred as a result of the program.
Todd defended the group’s approach by arguing that a reduction goal could “inhibit” the participation of smaller companies that don’t have expertise in limiting methane leaks, but benefit from the information-sharing in the program.
“If we required an emissions percentage reduction, it could prevent smaller operators from joining the program,” Todd said.
Industry will only go so far: Groups such as the Environmental Defense Fund that cooperate with industry to invest in technological research to better detect methane leaks say the current voluntary approach is insufficient.
Some individual companies, such as Shell, have urged the EPA to keep Obama-era regulations targeting methane leaks, instead of weakening them as planned. Sommers, though, argued that the industry is self-motivated to limit methane emissions because leaks remove product that can be sold for profit.
“We know the threat of climate change is real, but the solutions also have to be based in reality,” Sommers said. “We know from even most ambitious projections that oil and gas will be a significant part of the energy mix for years into the future.”
Legislature set to vote on dividend, university funding, rural energy assistance
Steve Quinn, KTVA, July 29, 2019
The Senate and House on Monday are poised to vote on separate budget bills that have implications for the Permanent Fund dividend, college scholarships and efforts to restore significant portions of the $444 million vetoed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy.
The House will take a final vote on a capital budget that not only draws federal matching dollars for highway, airport and construction projects, but it could also restore dozens of funds swept in the constitutional budget reserve. But that will take 30 votes rather than 21 from a simple majority, and the House fell five votes and a single vote short in previous efforts.
Our take: We will be watching closely as legislators take the floor today. The House will attempt to vote for a third and final time to fund the Capital Budget. The near billion dollars in federal match fund many of the capital improvement and maintenance projects that keep or state safe, and trade businesses employed. Now is a good time to contact your legislator and ask them to vote “YES” on funding the Capital Budget.
Legislation would launch wave of relocations
Marc Heller, E&E News, July 29, 2019
The Trump administration’s plans to move the Bureau of Land Management and two Agriculture Department agencies far away from the nation’s capital could be just the beginning of a wave of relocations, if legislation by Sen. Joni Ernst becomes reality.
The Iowa Republican introduced a bill last week to encourage executive agencies to move out of the Washington, D.C., area, with the exception of the Defense Department, the Energy Department, the State Department, the Executive Office of the President and others vital to national security.
From the Daily on Energy:
DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL OPPOSE EPA GUIDANCE LIMITING STATE AUTHORITY OVER CLEAN WATER PERMITS FOR PIPELINES: A coalition of 14 Democratic state attorneys general is warning the EPA that the agency’s new guidance implementing President Trump’s executive order limiting state authority over oil and gas pipelines is illegal.
Trump signed an executive order April 10 designed to limit the instances in which blue states such as New York can reject pipeline projects using authority granted to states in Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Section 401 allows states to deny permits if leaks from an energy infrastructure project could harm nearby streams or lakes.
In comments filed Friday to the EPA, the Democratic attorneys general say the law provides states the primary authority to protect water quality within their borders, allowing for “broad discretion” in making decisions over pipeline certifications.
They also say EPA’s new guidance imposes burdensome limitations on states’ abilities to collect information about a project’s expected impacts on water quality, and sets “arbitrary and unreasonable” time limits on states’ completing water quality reviews.
“EPA’s guidance is yet another reckless attempt by the Trump Administration to weaken Clean Water Act protections for the nation’s waters,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “The EPA must withdraw this unlawful attempt to strip states of their authority to regulate water quality.
NOTICE OF DATES AND LOCATIONS FOR PUBLIC COMMENT MEETINGS
DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT
ALASKA LNG PROJECT
(July 26, 2019)
The staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) will be present to receive comments on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Alaska LNG Project (Project) as follows:
|Date and Time (Alaska Daylight Time)||Public Comment Meeting Locations|
|Monday September 9, 2019 5:00–8:00 p.m.||Inupiat Heritage Center 5421 North Star Street Utqiagvik, AK 99723|
|Trapper Creek Elementary School 6742 Petersville Road Trapper Creek, AK 99683|
|Tuesday September 10, 2019 5:00–8:00 p.m.||Nuiqsut Kisik Community Center 2230 Second Avenue Nuiqsut, AK 99789|
|Houston Fire Station 9-1 13965 W Armstrong Road Houston, AK 99694|
|Wednesday September 11, 2019 5:00–8:00 p.m.||Tri-Valley Community Center 0.5 Mile Healy Spur Rd Healy, AK 99743|
|Nikiski Recreation Center – Banquet Hall Mile 23.4 Kenai Spur Highway Nikiski, AK 99611|
|Thursday September 12, 2019 5:00–8:00 p.m.||Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor’s Center 101 Dunkel Street Fairbanks, AK 99701|
|Dena’ina Center Khatnu 1 Room 600 West Seventh Avenue Anchorage, AK 99501|
The Bureau of Land Management will hold public subsistence hearings and solicit public testimony in two additional potentially affected communities as a part of its consideration under Section 810(a) of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. The Bureau of Land Management will conduct those hearings at the following locations and times:
|Date and Time (Alaska time)||Subsistence Hearing Location|
|Tuesday, September 17, 2019 6:00–9:00 pm||Anaktuvuk Pass Community Center 3031 Main Street Anaktuvuk Pass, AK 99721|
|Thursday, September 19, 2019 6:00–9:00 pm||Kaktovik Community Center 2051 Barter Avenue Kaktovik, AK 99747|
As a reminder, the Commission encourages electronic filing of comments and has staff available to assist you at (866) 208-3676 or FercOnlineSupport@ferc.gov. Please carefully follow these instructions for your electronic or written comments so that your comments are properly recorded.
- You can file your comments electronically using the eComment feature on the Commission’s website (ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. This is an easy method for submitting brief, text-only comments on the Project.
- You can file your comments electronically by using the eFiling feature on the Commission’s website (ferc.gov) under the link to Documents and Filings. With eFiling, you can provide comments in a variety of formats by attaching them as a file with your submission. New eFiling users must first create an account by clicking on “eRegister.” If you are filing a comment on a particular project, please select “Comment on a Filing” as the filing type.
- You can file a paper copy of your comments by mailing them to the following address. Be sure to reference the Project docket number (CP17‑178-000) with your submission: Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street NE, Room 1A, Washington, DC
Alaskan Oil Shipments to South Korea Show Growing U.S. Reach
Sheela Tobben, Bloomberg, July 24, 2019
Alaskan oil shipments to South Korea are picking up, in another sign of the growing U.S. influence on the global market. Two tankers, each able to hold a million barrels of oil, are delivering cargoes this month into Yeosu in South Korea after filling up at the Valdez terminal, the loading point for crude from Alaska’s North Slope fields. These shipments will raise the Asian nation’s intake of supply from the U.S. state to 2.75 million barrels so far this year, the most in government data going back to 1992.
China Collusion Claim Compromises Green Group
National Center for Public Policy Research, July 23, 2019
“NRDC’s opposition to America’s fossil-fuel development comports with China’s goal of hamstringing its chief global rival. The Paris Climate Agreement heavily restricted U.S. energy development, which is exactly what NRDC and Beijing want.”
With Capitol Hill still fixated on long-discredited allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, the National Center’s Bonner Cohen is focused instead on simmering allegations of collusion between a green American nonprofit and Red China. In an article written by Kevin Mooney for the Washington Free Beacon, Bonner – a senior fellow with the National Center – says that emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit indicate that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) was hard at work with the Obama Administration State Department to involve the United States in the climate change negotiations of the Paris Agreement. This seemed to lead to what Bonner says had all the “hallmarks of a treaty” without the necessary advise-and-consent involvement of the U.S. Senate.
AGDC president outlines path forward; China deal is dead
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, July 24, 2019
Interim Alaska Gasline Development Corp. Joe Dubler insists that Alaska is still making unprecedented progress towards a long-sought natural gas pipeline project despite the fact that the lead agency on the effort is downsizing significantly. “I think we’re closer now than we’ve ever been” to making a gasline project happen, Dubler told House Resource Committee members on July 19. AGDC officials informed the Journal July 10 that the quasi-state agency would be ending its work to secure customers and investors for the roughly $40 billion Alaska LNG Project, as well as closing its public and government relations department. The remaining eight or nine employees will focus on completing the ongoing Alaska LNG environmental impact statement process the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC published the project’s nearly 3,700-page draft EIS June 28
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:
EPA PARTNERS WITH CONSERVATIVE STUDENT GROUP TO PROMOTE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION: The EPA announced Wednesday that it signed a “memo of understanding” with a nonprofit conservative student group, called the American Conservation Coalition, to enhance environmental education in schools.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the “first-time” agreement is intended to prepare students for careers in environmental fields, and to encourage young people to get involved in issues like combating marine litter, improving recycling, and reducing lead exposure.
“EPA is proud to work alongside ACC to inspire the next generation of environmental leaders and advance solutions to today’s pressing environmental challenges,” Wheeler said.
Something is missing from the syllabus: The American Conservation Coalition visited Capitol Hill this week to lobby Republicans to pursue legislation to address climate change, but Wheeler did not mention climate change as a shared challenge in his statement.
Our Take: Benji Backer, the President and founder of The American Conservation Coalition, was recently in Alaska, speaking to Alaskans about his ideas for addressing climate change without harming the economy. Go Benji!!