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Zinke’s latest policy gambit collides with Alaska’s $44B plan
Margaret Kriz Hobson, Energywire, October 16, 2018
The state of Alaska is getting decidedly mixed messages from the Trump administration on the best way to commercialize the state’s 35 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves that are now stranded on the North Slope. On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed the state’s proposed Alaska LNG project, a $44 billion venture that would include construction of an 800-mile pipeline to ship gas to an export terminal along Alaska’s southern shore. Mnuchin stopped in Fairbanks for talks with Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) after attending an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Indonesia. Walker said Mnuchin has repeatedly expressed “strong support” for the Alaska LNG project. “He understands that this is America’s infrastructure project and that it represents a trillion-dollar opportunity,” the governor said in a statement. But at the same time, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is suggesting that the federal government host an LNG export facility in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, with gas shipped to the site by tanker from the North Slope.
Our Take: Efforts to avoid delay tactics by radical environmental groups are appreciated.
The U.S. is putting more distance between itself and the rest of the world in terms of growth expectations from professional investors. The news keeps getting worse for global economic prospects, with respondents to the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Fund Manager Survey for October now holding their dimmest view for the future since the financial crisis. A record 85 percent of market pros say the world is in the “late cycle” period of growth. That’s the highest reading since November 2008, just two months after Lehman Brothers collapsed and triggered the worst days of the Great Recession. That level is also a full 11 percentage points above its previous record in December 2007. A net 38 percent expect the global economy to decelerate over the next year.
A years-long fight over how close oil and gas drilling can safely be to places where people live, and work is coming to a head with an unprecedented November ballot measure that would ban such operations within at least half a mile of homes, schools, businesses and waterways. Proposition 112 is pitting homeowners against Fortune 500 companies and even neighbor against neighbor. The stakes involved are immense in a state that is the nation’s seventh-largest oil producer and fifth-biggest supplier of natural gas. According to Tracee Bentley, executive director of the Colorado Petroleum Council, the state is considered “a bellwether.” If Proposition 112 were to pass, she said, “we are certain we would see it pop up in a couple years in other oil-and-gas-producing states.”