Morning Headlamp – Repsol latest victim amid hard times for industry

June 8, 2016 | Posted in : News

Best wishes. Alaska Dispatch News and other outlets reported that Spanish energy giant, Repsol, will plan to relinquish all 93 of the company’s federal leases in the Chuckchi Sea. The leases were part of nearly 500 Chukchi Sea blocks covering more than 2.5 million acres that were originally sold in the federal government’s record-breaking 2008 lease sale, when companies such as Shell, ConocoPhillips, Statoil and others snatched up little-explored prospects that offered the promise of a big discovery. The office has “essentially closed,” said Bill Hardham, Repsol’s Alaska asset manager. Jan Sieving, Repsol’s North America vice president for public affairs said she didn’t have information about what happened to all the workers in Alaska. Headlamp is sad to see—yet another—energy leader pull out of Alaska due to an unstable business climate and low oil prices. How many more Alaskan jobs must be lost before elected officials change their tune of higher taxes on the industry? 

Don’t let bureaucrats in Washington shut down future OCS leases and development. The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in 8 days! Tell the BOEM what you think here.

Who are these guys? Alaska Public Radio News continued to cover the tension between Alaska union groups Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) and the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and the trans-Alaska pipeline operator. They say the plan to bring in a Louisiana-based company to take over oil spill prevention and response in the Sound risks another spill, 27 years after the Exxon Valdez. This week, the company that operates the trans-Alaska pipeline, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., confirmed that it’s in final negotiations with Louisiana-based Edison Chouest Offshore to take over. Michelle Egan, a spokesperson for Alyeska, said the pipeline operator is confident the Louisiana company will meet its safety and environmental standards.

Voters in the North Slope Borough went to the polls Tuesday to pick a replacement for ousted mayor Charlotte Brower, but she didn’t win back the job she lost in an April 5 recall election. The leading candidates were George Ahmaogak Sr., a former borough mayor who collected 495 votes or 32 percent of the ballots, and Harry Brower Jr., deputy director of the borough’s wildlife department and Charlotte Brower’s brother-in-law, with 463 votes, or 30 percent.

 

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First Reads

Repsol joins oil-company exodus from the Arctic’s Chukchi Sea
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, June 7, 2016

Unions say pipeline operator risks spill in Prince William Sound
Alaska Public Radio News, Rachel Waldholz, June 7, 2016

Gov. Walker says full deficit-reduction plan might not happen until next year
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 7, 2016

Election to replace North Slope Borough mayor is too close to call
Alaska Dispatch News, Lisa Demer, June 7, 2016

 

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Bonfire of the Subsidies; A New Economic Plan for Alaska

June 7, 2016 | Posted in : News

In response to the Senate passing legislation that would restructure the Permanent Fund and use money from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) to pay for state government, Governor Walker announced his plan to move forward to diversify Alaska’s economy.

The highlights of that plan are agricultural exports, renewable energy and a gas pipeline. Let’s take a look at those three things and consider their viability.

Observation #1 Renewable Energy: You cannot replace oil, coal, and natural gas with windmills or solar panels. To quote a favorite blogger, “Hobbits may be able to live poetically, generating energy from the wind, the sun, and the soil. Real human beings living in an industrialized civilization need highly concentrated nonrenewable energy sources to survive.”  Headlamp is thankful that Alaska is blessed with abundant oil, coal and natural gas resources and companies who, against all odds, develop them responsibly. If only we had elected officials who wanted the people of Alaska to fully access our resources…

With current technology renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, cannot stand on their own merits without substantial government subsidies. Furthermore, these energy sources are sub-par when compared to traditional energy sources, at providing abundant, reliable, affordable, and scalable energy to large populations. So, Headlamp would ask, how much will the state subsidize these projects and what will we get in return?

Observation #2 Agricultural Exports: There are only about 500 farms in Alaska. In terms of revenue generated, Alaska’s top five agricultural products are greenhouse and nursery products, hay, dairy products, potatoes, and cattle.

These projects also exist on government subsidies. Once again, Headlamp would ask, how much will the state subsidize these projects and what will we get in return?

Observation #3 A gas pipeline:  Since February of 2015 the Walker Administration has acted as if a state-backed pipeline is a serious alternative to the LNG mega-project driven by the private sector. Hiring the majority of his allies from the Alaska Gasline Port Authority indicates the Governor still prefers a gasline project constructed, financed, and owned primarily by the state.

If Alaska miraculously built a large diameter gas pipeline on its own, all Gov. Walker would lack is the vast quantities of gas needed to fill the pipe to make it commercially viable and the money to fund the project.

At the risk of being repetitive, this project would have to be subsidized by the government if the state were to go-it-alone. Headlamp is watching HB 246 – the governor’s bill to set up a fund within the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) to fund oil and gas projects. Headlamp will also be watching the AGDC board meeting this week to see if a new President is appointed. We hope AGDC’s new President is not one who believes the state can build an LNG pipeline on their own.

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Morning Headlamp — Compromise reached on HB 247

June 7, 2016 | Posted in : News

Alaska Dispatch News and other outlets reported that both the House and the Senate reached a compromise on Governor Bill Walker’s embattled oil and gas tax credit bill, HB 247. The bill passed 13-6 in the Senate and by a tight 21-19 margin in the House. The bill could net the state an estimated $140 million by 2020, only half of previous projections. The legislation passed Monday also preserves a tax credit for the state’s four largest oil companies that the House compromise had proposed to repeal — credits that by 2020 would amount to $585 million, which the companies could claim as tax deductions, according to the state’s projections. Walker hasn’t indicated if he’ll sign the oil tax bill. His communications director, Grace Jang, said late Monday that Walker opposed the version that passed because he “felt the bill didn’t go far enough,” but she added that it was too soon to say if he’d veto it. Headlamp will never support anti-industry legislation but we can sleep easier knowing Governor Bill Walker’s original tax bill was not fully met.

The Maryland-based International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and the Seattle-based Inland boatmen’s Union said on Monday they are launching an advertising campaign to stop Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. from canceling its ship-escort and spill-response contract with Crowley Marine and giving it to a nonunion company involved in the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk drilling rig in 2012. The unions’ minute-long TV ad, to run on major stations during news shows in Anchorage and Juneau, says workers with Edison Chouest are training people in Louisiana who will take Alaska jobs. Alyeska Pipeline on Monday publicly confirmed that it intends to sign a 10-year contract with Edison Chouest Offshore that should be finalized this summer.

Supply Meet Demand. Oil prices hit their highest price in eight months on Tuesday, buoyed by the dollar nearing one-month lows and by falling Nigerian oil output after a spate of attacks on infrastructure. U.S. crude oil futures rose 60 cents to $50.29 a barrel, having touched a fresh 2016 peak of $50.37, their highest since October last year. With OPEC promising not to flood the market and US inventory levels dropping, could we be nearing an environment of increased activity in the industry?  Headlamp wonders how HB 247 will impact the ability of Alaska to rebound from low oil prices. 

Bumpy road ahead. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski’s bipartisan energy bill has stalled amid partisan disputes over oil drilling, water for drought-stricken California and potential rollback of protections for the gray wolf and other wildlife. The bill’s prospects dimmed after the House approved a series of election-year amendments last month that promote Republican priorities, such as increased drilling for oil and gas and overriding protections for the gray wolf and other species under the Endangered Species Act. The House bill also would promote hunting and fishing on federal lands, shift more water to California farmers and cut the flow for threatened fish. The House proposal includes at least seven measures that the White House strongly opposes or has threatened to veto. Headlamp hopes lawmakers don’t politicize America’s energy future through stalling this monumental bill.

The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in 9 days! Are you like Headlamp and think Alaskans should have the right to pursue safe, sustainable resource development? Tell the BOEM what you think here.

Former Senator Mark Begich, who has been almost suspiciously quiet about the state of Alaska’s legislative affairs, lambasted the recent budget passed by the state legislature as “trying to dodge the tough decisions in an election year,” fueling speculation he may have an eye on the Gubernatorial election in 2018

*These quote comes from the following article reprinted from Energywire with Permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net 202-628-6500

Ex-Sen. Begich re-emerges to blast lawmakers over fiscal crisis
Margaret Kriz Hobson, E&E reporter
Published: Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D) yesterday jumped into Alaska’s contentious political debate concerning the state’s fiscal crisis, calling on Gov. Bill Walker (I) to veto the budget bill adopted last week by the Republican-led state Legislature.

In an opinion column in the Alaska Dispatch News, Begich criticized state legislators for failing to do enough to cut Alaska’s $4 billion deficit created by low oil prices. He accused lawmakers of “trying to dodge the tough decisions in an election year.”

Begich, who has maintained a low political profile in Alaska since losing his Senate seat to Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan in 2014, argued that the Legislature should make deeper cuts in state programs, raise fees and consider new taxes to help balance the budget.

He also suggested that lawmakers revise the way the state handles the Permanent Fund savings account, a $52.8 billion pool of money created with state oil revenues. Half the fund’s investment earnings are currently distributed to Alaska residents annually in the form of dividend checks.

However, Begich didn’t identify any specific budget cuts or new revenue proposals. And he asserted that the lawmakers should continue investing in the state’s education system.

Begich’ s re-emergence into Alaska’s policy scene is raising questions in state political circles about whether the former senator is interested in challenging Walker in the 2018 gubernatorial race. Begich currently heads the Northern Compass Group, an Anchorage-based consulting firm that focuses on business development and public policy.

The broad policy proposals mentioned by Begich are similar to those detailed in Walker’s comprehensive budget package, which state Republican legislators have largely opposed.

Last week’s Republican funding bill included budget cuts and a proposal to borrow $3.2 billion from Alaska’s Constitutional Budget Reserve. So far, the lawmakers have not embraced any new taxes or changes to the way the state uses oil tax revenues.

Walker has not said whether he’ll sign that bill, which he attacked for drawing money from Alaska’s dwindling savings account rather than cutting oil and gas industry credits or imposing new taxes to shrink the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit

 

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First Reads

House passes Senate version of tax bill after Rep. Hawker returns from cancer treatment
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 6, 2016

Maritime unions launch ad campaign to stop Alyeska Pipeline from selecting Edison Chouest
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, June 6, 2016

Energy bill prospects dim in dispute over drilling, drought
Associated Press, June 6, 2016

Oil hits 2016 high on ebbing supply, softer dollar
Alaska Dispatch News, June 6, 2016

 

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Spotlight on Potential Federal Overreach: Arctic Outer Continental Shelf Leases 101

June 6, 2016 | Posted in : News

OCS economic development has long been a staple of Alaska’s economic past, present, and future.

The Department of the Interior has proposed cancelling oil and gas leases in the Outer Continental Shelves (OCS) of the Pacific, the Gulf Coast, and right here in the Arctic – which would impact future development off of Alaska’s northern coast. Proposed cancelled lease sites in the Chukchi Sea, Beaufort Sea, and Cook Inlet planning areas are the specific leases mentioned by the proposed program.

What exactly does this Arctic OCS news mean for you? Check out below.

  • The oil and gas industry supports one out of every three jobs in Alaska—cancellation of leases could result in thousands of lost jobs and lost future development projects.
  • Alaskan Native groups’ economic opportunities are inherently tied to their ability to work in connection with offshore resource development, particularly in the Arctic. Shutting the door on this industry would marginalize thousands of Alaskans.
  • Alaska has already seen major industry retreat. Without the prospect of resource development, Alaska will likely see more declines in capital investment.
    • This has caught the attention of major ratings agencies who spent the spring downgrading Alaska’s credit rating.
  • The Arctic is a key geopolitical region for the United States. As economic development is inherently tied to political stability, abandoning the region allows for other superpowers to fill the void.

Prudhoe Bay is a perfect example of a site taking full advantage of resource development in the Arctic OCS region. The Alliance has always championed the development that Prudhoe Bay has brought to our state and hopes to do so in the future.

Stay tuned…the Alliance will keep you in the know on anything affecting Alaska’s energy industry.

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Morning Headlamp — New crop of AK independents look to make waves in the legislature

June 6, 2016 | Posted in : News

Alaska Chamber of Commerce CEO Curtis Thayer penned a commentary in the Alaska Dispatch News where he called for a quick end to the budget debate before more economic confidence is lost. In his piece, Thayer says that “Alaskans want deeper cuts to state spending. More than any option, including new taxes or tapping into Permanent Fund earnings – more even than a combination of taxes and cuts – voters want a state government that Alaska can afford.”

Following last Thursday’s filing deadline, Alaska Dispatch News reported on the large number of new legislative candidates entering the field this cycle in Alaska. Specifically, more than a dozen people filed to run as independents in this year’s election — twice the number who ran for the Legislature two years ago. The independents will lack party infrastructure and expertise to support their bids; they won’t be able to build name recognition and hone their battle skills in the August primary election. Headlamp is all for shaking up legislative makeups in the name of government efficiency, but we seem to recall a certain independent governor who only complicated matters…

Alaska Resource Development Council calls on Alaskans to make their voices heard on OCS leasing! In an action alert, AKRDC wants Alaskans, “to defend the Alaska lease sales and show strong support that Alaskans do in fact support OCS development. Even though the lease sales in Alaska are not scheduled until late in the new proposed five-year lease plan, we need to make sure BOEM doesn’t remove Alaska like they have done to other regions.”

The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in 10 days! Are you like Headlamp and think Alaskans should have the right to pursue safe, sustainable resource development? Tell the BOEM what you think here.

 

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First Reads

Alaska pipeline owners, despite losing rate case, can recover $56 million in litigation costs
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban June 5, 2016

Crowd of independent Alaska legislative candidates seeks to break through gridlock in Juneau
Alaska Dispatch News, Nat Herz, June 5, 2016

BLM continues work on cleaning debris from North Slope oil drilling
Alaska Public Radio News, Ellen Lockyer, June 5, 2016

Juneau, we have a problem… Budget concerns threaten economic confidence
Alaska Dispatch News, Curtis Thayer, June 5, 2016

Alaska’s US Senate race cracks open with influx of new candidates
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, June 5, 2016

 

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Friday’s Fast Five

June 3, 2016 | Posted in : News

Headlamp wants our followers to always be up to date with the developments in Alaska’s economy, politics, and industry. Check out this week’s rundown of the stories affecting you.

Top Story of the Week

This week, the Alaska Legislature passed a compromised version of the state’s operating budget. The budget addressed a number of issues that were important to minority House Democrats. Support from the minority was needed in the House to access a reserve fund to help cover an estimated $3.3 billion hole for the coming fiscal year.

Top Reads of the Week

REI announces move to FEED for Cook Inlet gas project
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehemr, June 1, 2016
Plans for a small-scale natural gas liquefaction and export facility at Port MacKenzie continue to move ahead despite current market challenges.

Analyst: Alaska in a bind on taxes, LNG
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, June 1, 2016
A leading international energy analyst did not paint a rosy picture for Alaska in a May 26 presentation to the state Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board.

Murkowski’s energy bill lurches forward
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, May 29, 2016
The first major energy legislation in a decade moved a few steps closer to becoming law after House action this week, but Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski will still have to convince lawmakers to compromise on a host of provisions that have drawn veto threats from the White House.

Quote of the Week

“I guess he decided it was his turn to stand up and go to bat. So, game on.”Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage

 

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Morning Headlamp — Lawmakers potentially without a bed if session moves to Anchorage

June 3, 2016 | Posted in : News

Just looking for a bed at this point. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, lawmakers are considering moving the special session from Juneau to Anchorage next week. Unfortunately for legislators, the biennial festival of Native culture, a celebration that draws about 5,000 people, is underway causing Juneau’s hotels to be full for three nights next week. “The rooms have been booked a year and a half in advance,” said Dana Ruaro, the sales manager for the Goldbelt and Baranof hotels, two of Juneau’s largest.

Professor emeritus of history at the University of Alaska Anchorage, Steve Haycox calls on Alaskans to come to a consensus on how to best use our abundant natural resources. Haycox recognizes innate tension between wanting to protect the environment and the economy, but stresses that polarization and failure to compromise will result in failing in both endeavors. Concluding his commentary, Haycox writes, “Expressed resentment and strident critiques of federal management of Alaska lands generate polarization and prevent exploration of cooperative mechanisms that serve multiple interests. Most reasonable leaders and managers respect those who transcend differences and find the points of consensus. In the long run, it’s more productive.”

Worldcrunch covered news that energy giant Total is making progress on their Russian megaproject, Yamal LNG. To the French oil company, which owns 20% of Yamal LNG and 18.9% of Novatek, the project represents 90,000 barrels per day. While the factory’s production in Yamal does not start until the third trimester of 2017, the French construction company Vinci is currently finished with the construction of the four gigantic tanks destined to store liquefied gas. Headlamp would also like to point out that the massive energy venture also employs over 15,000 people. Yamal LNG is one of the largest energy megaprojects in the industry right now, especially given AKLNG’s absence. Headlamp warns lawmakers and those who are hesitant about committing to energy investment that if Alaska misses our chance, others won’t.

The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in less than two weeks. Are you like Headlamp and think Alaskans should have the right to pursue safe, sustainable resource development? Tell the BOEM what you think here.

 

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First Reads

Alaska lawmakers, facing a housing crunch, mull move to Anchorage
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, June 1, 2016

A Massive Natural Gas Plant Rises In The Arctic
Worldcrunch, Anne Fietz, June 2, 2016

Consensus on Alaska federal lands is better than polarization
Alaska Dispatch News, Steve Haycox, June 1, 2016

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What’s the definition of impact?

June 2, 2016 | Posted in : News

For those who tuned in to Governor Walker’s press conference yesterday, you were treated to an impassioned speech from the Governor about how the uncertainty of Alaska’s fiscal situation could deter investment:

“The private investment; the companies that we want to invest in our state, in our economy, will sit back another year and say, ‘well…’ And some of them have come to me, have stopped me in different settings and said, ‘Your know, we’re not sure we can invest this year in Alaska because of the uncertainty.’ They said this uncertainty has got to be taken care of.”

Headlamp wants Governor Walker to know we couldn’t agree more. But more importantly, Governor, you can’t have it both ways.  We’ve argued for months that uncertainty, the kind that comes from changing the oil and gas tax structure 6 times in 11 years, deters investment. Investment from the very industry that has paid, and will continue to pay, the majority of our bills.

We weren’t the only ones to take exception to what was said at the Governor’s press conference. Our friends at the Alaska Miners Association (AMA) wrote a pointed letter to the Governor and Commissioner Hoffbeck concerning the Commissioner’s statements.

Of the proposed legislation to increase taxes on the mining industry, Hoffbeck said:

“We are proposing a $7 million tax increase. Gold, silver and zinc in the last ten years has fluctuated 300-500%. It’s a commodity price driven industry. The tax is not going to impact the industry.”

AMA took exception to that and in their letter said:

“Tax proposals that have come from your administration have changed the Alaska Mining License Tax from 7%-9%; this is nearly a 30% increase in taxes on the large mines. “

It’s hard to imagine how anyone could claim that a 30% increase wouldn’t have an effect on industry.

Headlamp loves to editorialize, but we can’t improve upon the closing line of the AMA letter:

“A tax increase on Alaska’s mines may ultimately be adopted by Alaska lawmakers, and if that is the case, it will, without question, have an impact. It will increase costs in what is already one of the most costly places in the world for mines to operate and it will add to the challenges to make new producing mines a reality. To say otherwise is simply untrue.”

Thank you AMA for pointing out that punitive tax policies have a negative impact on all industries. We couldn’t agree more.

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Morning Headlamp – Alaska’s international energy potential: capitalize or squander

June 2, 2016 | Posted in : News

“Do we have to go broke before we fix Alaska? I guess that’s my question to the Legislature,” Governor Bill Walker said. Gov. Walker has been under increased pressure to convince lawmakers, and Alaskans, on his fiscal plan. Legislative leaders called the budget responsible and a product of hard-fought compromise that further reduced state spending. But Walker’s budget director, Pat Pitney, said that in some cases it included use of one-time funding and booked expenses in the current year. That’s problematic because it will have to be accounted for in future budgeting, Pitney said. When you take those items into account, “we haven’t substantially moved the dial,” budget director Pat Pitney said.

Global leaders in moving backwards. According to IHS Energy Senior Vice President Atul Arya said Alaska is globally unique in discussing the possibility of raising taxes or cutting incentives during the prolonged downturn in oil markets. “What I find most interesting — in the most recent time, most everybody is creating incentives to help attract investments into their countries,” he said. “Even places like India and China, which are not really hotbeds of oil and gas activity, have done more to attract investors, and of course there are many other countries who are doing that in the last year or so.” The IHS official also noted the global demand for LNG will continue to grow to about 350 million tons by 2020. Headlamp couldn’t agree more with Arya! It makes no sense in an Alaskan, national, or even international context to tax an industry that’s already hurting. Alaska has the potential to be a global hub of energy production if bad policy doesn’t get in the way.

REI builds relationships across the Pacific. Resources Energy Inc. plans to move their project into the front-end engineering and design, or FEED, stage within the next few months. FEED should take roughly two years, at which point a final investment decision would be made. Construction would then take about another two years to put start-up sometime in 2020 or 2021. A Japanese delegation toured Port McKenzie and were impressed to say the least according to General Manager Mary Ann Pease. Pease said the Japanese delegation members continue to emphasize Alaska’s ability to reliably support the country’s energy security.

Wells Fargo, First National Bank Alaska, and Northrim BanCorphave continued to increase loan portfolios and deposits, though they acknowledge the state’s precarious oil-driven position.

Wells Fargo — a sizable underwriter of oil and gas operations — has seen several revenue streams associated with oil and gas decline. More than 1,200 oil and gas industry workers received unemployment benefits in 2015, up 545 from the prior year. The Department of Labor indicates that this trend has continued through the first quarter of this year with a total decrease of 1,900 jobs in the oil and gas sector as compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming. After oil prices have slowly crept up to around $50, some Wyoming drilling operations have begun to reexamine oil production. The renewed optimism comes as analysts continue to debate oil’s trajectory. Kirkwood Oil and Gas, for example, has targeted $65 a barrel for a return to Powder River Basin, where the company has 90 undeveloped well locations. “I think things are going to pick up here. We’re betting on it,” said Steve Kirkwood, who runs the Casper-based firm. He projected the company could begin drilling again in the fourth quarter. Headlamp applauds Wyoming’s oil and gas producers wading back into the market despite the pervasive pessimism from some market critics, and hopes that Alaska will be joining them soon – if taxes don’t drive investment away. 

The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in two weeks. Are you like Headlamp and think Alaskans should have the right to pursue safe, sustainable resource development? Tell the BOEM what you think here.

 

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First Reads

Alaska governor urges action on plan to address deficit
Associated Press, Becky Bohrer, June 1, 2016

Budget deal is done, but oil tax reform remains elusive
Alaska Public Radio News, Rachel Waldholz, June 1, 2016

Analyst: Alaska in a bind on taxes, LNG
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, June 1, 2016

REI announces move to FEED for Cook Inlet gas project
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, June 1, 2016

Walker to Legislature: Your job isn’t done yet
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Elwood Brehmer, June 1, 2016

Banks see some impacts of oil crash, fiscal uncertainty
Alaska Journal of Commerce, DJ Summers, June 1, 2016

With oil near $50, Wyoming oil companies dust off drilling plans
Casper Star Tribune, Benjamin Storrow, June 1, 2016

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Morning Headlamp — Alaska legislature agrees on an operating budget

June 1, 2016 | Posted in : News

The legislature compromised on Alaska’s operating budget after House and Senate negotiators reached a deal late Monday. Legislative leaders wanted to avoid a repeat of last year, when a budget fight spilled into June and thousands of state workers received notices warning of possible layoffs if a budget wasn’t approved by July 1. Senate Finance Committee co-chair Anna MacKinnon, said the operating budget represents a bipartisan effort and addresses “the need to cut, the need to invest and the need to compromise.” Headlamp hopes that Governor Walker will recognize a compromise when he sees one and honor the legislative work that went into it. A veto will only send the state backwards.

A new challenger steps to up to the plate. Alaska Dispatch News reported that Vince Beltrami, Alaska’s AFL – CIO president, has filed to run for state senate. Earlier this year Beltrami lost the support of several minority members of the legislature when he opted to co-chair Alaska’s Future, a group that’s lobbying the Legislature to use the earnings of the Permanent Fund to help cover the state’s $4 billion budget deficit and to cap the dividend. “This is my fourth election in six years and he’s put his people up against me every time. I guess he decided it was his turn to stand up and go to bat. So, game on,” Giessel said. 

Alaskan land, Alaska’s issue. Sen. Lisa Murkowski held a hearing for the Senate Resources Committee on federal management conflicts with local management on the Kenai Peninsula. “We’ve got some serious work in front of us,” Murkowski said. “I think we recognize that in the past 20 years or thereabouts, the management of our public forests, or lack of management, translates to a very real threat to the health and safety of communities not only in our state but really across our nation.” Mike Navarre, Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor, criticized federal overreach on local Alaskans’ attempts to responsibly manage their land on their own terms. He said when he originally put forward a plan to thin some of the trees on the Peninsula during the spruce bark beetle infestation, he received opposition from some of the environmental agencies in Washington, D.C.

In similar news, the deadline for comment on future outer continental shelf (OCS) drilling leases ends in 15 days. Sen. Murkowski criticized President Obama’s plan to curtail future Arctic drilling, citing “overwhelming support of Alaskans for the lease sales.

Alaska’s land management should be exactly that — Alaskans managing their own land. Federal overreach into local ecologic issues will undoubtedly miss the mark on policy. Headlamp applauds Sen. Murkowski for recognizing that Alaskans are the best arbiters of their ecologic and resource development issues.

Yesterday marked the 39th anniversary of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline’s completion! Headlamp hopes that similar oil and gas megaprojects can become pillars of sustainable resource development.

 

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First Reads

Alaska Legislature passes compromise state operating budget
Associated Press, Becky Bohrer, May 31, 2016

Legislature votes to dip into budget reserve to pass state budget
Alaska Public Radio News, Andrew Kitchenman, May 31, 2016

Top Alaska union official Beltrami to run against GOP state Sen. Cathy Giessel
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, May 31, 2016

Murkowski holds meeting to discuss federal management
Peninsula Clarion, Elizabeth Earl, May 31, 2016

Young, Murkowski to do ‘double whammy’ on energy bill
Alaska Public Radio News, Liz Ruskin, May 27, 2016

 

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