Suit against tax credit bonds bogs down over jury trial motion
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, September 11, 2018
A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state law to pay off nearly $1 billion in oil and gas tax credits has slowed to a crawl as attorneys squabble over whether or not a jury should decide the matter. Former University of Alaska Regent Eric Forrer requested a jury trial July 19 in the public interest lawsuit he filed May 14 against Gov. Bill Walker’s administration with the Juneau District of state Superior Court. The request has resulted in each side filing multiple briefs in the debate over a trial, exemplified by the latest in the series filed by state attorneys Aug. 20 entitled, “Defendants’ Reply to Plaintiff’s Response to Defendants’ Motion to Strike Demand for Jury Trial”. That filing, signed by Assistant Attorney General Bill Milks, contends the issue at hand is a matter of the reading of law and therefore is not eligible for determination by a jury of 12.
Our Take: Oh the beauty of a public interest lawsuit – delay, delay, delay. Headlamp is with the state on this one – reading of the law is not best handled by a jury of 12.
As climate change looms large for the oil industry, what could that mean for Alaska?
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, September 11, 2018
This spring, ExxonMobil held a meeting with investors. It didn’t generate many headlines. And that’s a little surprising, considering what the company was there to talk about. “This was the first time that Exxon had ever held a session devoted entirely to carbon, as they called it, but to the larger issue of climate change,” said Amy Harder, a veteran energy reporter who used to work for the Wall Street Journal and is now with Axios in Washington, D.C. In Alaska, oil companies are already seeing the consequences of climate change. Shorter winter seasons are impacting the use of ice roads for oil exploration and construction. It’s also forcing the use of more refrigeration technology to keep thawing permafrost stable beneath infrastructure.
Our Take: It’s good to see the media acknowledging how serious oil companies like Exxon are about strategizing around climate change.
John Sellers and Cody Campbell are holding court one hot August evening in the corner of an oil-themed dive bar in Midland, Texas. After flying in on their private jet, they’re shaking hands, cracking jokes and talking deals with aspiring oilmen, contractors and land traders, almost all in their early 30s. A life-size, stuffed grizzly bear stands by a wall wearing a baseball cap embossed with: “Make Oil & Gas Great Again.” It’s not hard to see why Sellers and Campbell are in such high demand in this hardscrabble city that has become the global center of the shale revolution. Over the past decade, they’ve bought and sold tens of thousands of oil leases in the Permian Basin, making deals blessed with a handshake in diners, on the hoods of trucks and in bars such as this.
China launches its first domestically built icebreaker
Malte Humpert, High North News, September 12, 2018
China launched the Xue Long 2 (雪龙2), which translates to “Snow Dragon,” in an elaborate ceremony at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai on Monday. The new icebreaker follows on the heels of China’s first official Arctic policy announced in early 2018, in which the country placed special emphasis on maritime navigation and the importance of open access to the Arctic Ocean. It aims to include the region in its Belt and Road Initiative as a new “Polar Silk Road.” The new flagship icebreaker, operated by the civilian Polar Research Institute of China, was developed in cooperation with Finnish ship-building specialists Aker Arctic and laid down at the end of 2016. Designs were finalized by the Chinese Marine Design and Research Institute in Shanghai and the vessel was assembled from 114 individual segments by the China State Shipbuilding Corporation in just over two years.
Our Take: Two years for China to build an icebreaker while the US claims it will take 10. Houston, we have a problem.