“Sock” it to Zinke? Alaska worst state for business.

News that is truly absurd: OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL OPENS CASE ON ZINKE’S SOCKS: The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has opened a case file on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke after receiving a complaint alleging he may have potentially violated the Hatch Act when he posted a photo of himself wearing a pair of “Make America Great Again” socks on social media.

Alaska, shackled with a ‘grave’ budget crisis, is America’s worst state for business
CNBC, Scott Cohn, July 10, 2018

Alaskans just got some good news and some bad news. First, the good news: The state’s budget deficit — estimated at $2.4 billion just a few months ago — has been cut by more than two-thirds, to $700 million. It is still large by state standards, but enough to convince Standard and Poor’s to revise its outlook, to stable from negative, on the state’s debt

Our Take: State GDP rose last year by just 0.2 percent. Foreclosures are up 170% in the housing market. We can do better, but we aren’t. Click here to find out why. Our word is not good in the financial markets. Elections matter.

Trump’s OPEC Tweets Have Putin Preparing for Oil Talks
Bloomberg, Ilya Arkhipov and Elena Mazneva, July 11, 2018

When Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Donald Trump next week, he’ll be armed to discuss oil production following the U.S. leader’s series of tweets targeting OPEC, according to people familiar with preparations for the summit.

Our Take: Newest technique for negotiating between world powers? Twitter. “While Russia says tweets don’t define the policy of the so-called OPEC+ group, Trump’s Twitter post led Novak and his Saudi counterpart Khalid Al-Falih last week to reaffirm an agreement reached in June to restore 1 million barrels a day of oil supply.”

Oil’s New Technology Spells End of Boom for Roughnecks
The Wall Street Journal, Christopher M. Matthews, July 10, 2018

After 20 years in the oil-and-gas industry, Eric Neece was used to its booms and busts. He wasn’t surprised when he was laid off by GE Oil & Gas in Conroe, Texas, in 2015 after oil prices plummeted. He figured his job would come back when prices crept back up. He was almost right. The work came back. But Mr. Neece’s former job as a well logger—measuring well conditions thousands of feet underground—was gone. Those duties are increasingly being overseen remotely and handled by automation.

From today’s Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy:

A NEW DAY AT EPA AS ANDREW WHEELER ADDRESSES EPA EMPLOYEES: EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler will address all agency employees Wednesday afternoon.

Open to press: The EPA is allowing press to attend the address and is broadcasting a live stream.

“I’m looking forward to addressing EPA employees today about how we work together to improve the Agency’s core functions,” Wheeler said in a Twitter post. “As a former EPA career staffer, I deeply appreciate the work they do for the Agency & the American people.”

Open doors: The open meeting is another sign the EPA under Wheeler is trying to be more transparent with the public after Pruitt was accused of being overly secretive, signaling a shift in tone, even if the policy stays similar.

Our Take: A great move by Mr. Wheeler. Former Administrator Pruitt made great progress in reigning in the EPA and getting rid of burdensome regulations. It was all overshadowed by his behavior. Let’s not lose the ground we gained – work with the press, be transparent and keep the momentum going!

Alaska AFL-CIO president says Walker has earned re-election
KTOO Public Media, Andrew Kitchenman, July 10, 2018

The head of Alaska’s largest labor federation says at this point, Gov. Bill Walker would have most unions’ support. And he wants Walker and former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich to reach an agreement that would leave only one of them in the race for governor. Four years ago, the Alaska AFL-CIO endorsed independent Bill Walker – after Democratic candidate Byron Mallott joined Walker’s ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor. Based on what the Walker-Mallott administration has done since then, federation President Vince Beltrami said the governor deserves re-election. The AFL-CIO will make an endorsement on Aug. 24 – if two-thirds of its unions can agree.

Our Take: It’s like déjà vu all over again.