AK Senate Shake Up. Democratic Party Defector. Fossil Fuels Forever.

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Today’s Key Takeaways: Alaska Senate Shake Up? Hundreds of years of oil, gas, and coal supply in U.S.  Back to court for AKLNG.   Expiration date for Red Dog =thousands of lost jobs and billions of dollars for Alaska Natives. Manchin leaves Democratic Party.   


In a West Anchorage shake-up, Rep. McKay files for Senate and former Sen. Costello files for House – Anchorage Daily News (adn.com)

State Rep. Tom McKay, an Anchorage Republican, said Thursday that he will run for Alaska Senate against Democratic incumbent Sen. Matt Claman, who represents a West Anchorage district.

Former state Sen. Mia Costello, a Republican who lost to Claman in 2022, declared she would run for the House seat currently held by McKay.

After Sen. Click Bishop, a Fairbanks Republican, announced Wednesday that he did not intend to seek reelection to the Senate, two candidates formally filed for the seat Thursday, including Tok Republican Rep. Mike Cronk and Fairbanks North Star Assembly Presiding Officer Savannah Fletcher, a nonpartisan candidate.


Fossil Fuels: An Expanding Resource
Robert Bradley, Institute for Energy Research, May 31, 2024

Depletable resources deplete—which would seem to mean less and less for the future with ongoing production. But the actual statistics of oil, natural gas, and coal show the opposite. The more that is extracted, the more there is to extract. This is not the biblical story of the fishes and loaves. It is the result of resourceship, or entrepreneurship applied to resources in free economies.

That is the finding of IER’s 2024 North American Energy Inventory: “Since 2005, oil production in the U.S. has increased by 149 percent and natural gas production has more than doubled.”

Looking ahead: “The U.S. now has 227 years of oil supply, 130 years of natural gas supply, and 485 years of coal supply.” And when these time horizons are reached, expect high, even higher, reserve and resource figures given free-market supply and demand, or the liberty to locate, extract, and consume resource



Environmental groups file new challenge to yet-unbuilt Alaska LNG export project
Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon, May 31, 2024

The new lawsuit, the third filed in the past year, cites expected harms of natural gas activity and shipping to Endangered Species Act-listed populations

Two environmental groups filed a new legal challenge to the Biden administration’s approval of a yet-to-be-built project that would send the Alaska North Slope’s vast reserves of natural gas to markets.

In a petition filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club argued that federal agencies failed to properly consider harms that the massive natural gas project would cause to Endangered Species Act-listed animals living in the affected marine areas: polar bears, Cook Inlet beluga whales and Eastern North Pacific right whales.

The petition was filed against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, along with the agencies’ parent departments, the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce.

The Biden administration last year renewed an approval of exports from the project, which has been pursued in various forms since the 1970s but never built. The current plan is being promoted by the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. It proposes a 42-inch-diameter pipeline running about 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope to tidewater at Cook Inlet, where a new facility would convert the product to liquefied natural gas and load it onto tanker vessels for export to Asian markets.

The Biden administration’s most recent approval, which follows numerous other permits and approvals over the years, was based on flawed biological reviews, the environmental groups argued.



In Northwest Alaska, an economic engine runs low on ore
Nathaniel Herz, Northern Journal, May 30, 2024

Red Dog mine has sustained hundreds of jobs and generated billions of dollars for Alaska Natives. It’s set to close in 2031 unless its operator gets environmental permits and decides to expand.

Alaska’s most powerful elected officials reacted with outrage last month when the Biden administration announced it was rejecting a state agency’s plan to build a new road across remote Northwest Alaska, to access an array of mining deposits.

Mining company officials and their political allies had touted the road, and the mines that could be built alongside it, as economic lifelines for the thinly populated region.

But talk to most local leaders and their fears are centered elsewhere: specifically, on a mine that’s already in existence: Red Dog, located 75 miles north of the regional hub town of Kotzebue. 

The development produces roughly 5% of global zinc supplies. Nearly 1,000 people who are shareholders, or family of shareholders, in the local Indigenous-owned corporation, NANA, worked for the mine’s operator or for mining contractors last year. 

Their earnings totaled about $63 million, and historically, the mine has generated more than one-fourth of the wage and salary payroll in the local borough, which has a population of 7,400. 

Payments from Red Dog also account for 80% to 90% of the borough’s yearly revenue.

But Red Dog has an expiration date: Teck Resources, the Canadian company that operates the mine on land owned by NANA, says there’s only enough ore to keep its operations running until 2031.

For years, Teck has been studying new deposits about 10 miles from the existing development, which could sustain production for decades longer. 

But it says it needs six more years of study to prove that the deposits are worth mining. And the company’s proposed federal permits to access the area have been delayed, prompting growing anxiety among local government and business leaders about the economic harm that could result from a gap in production.

The risk extends far beyond Northwest Alaska. A provision of the state’s landmark Native claims settlement legislation requires NANA to share much of its Red Dog revenue with other Indigenous-owned corporations spread across the state’s rural villages. 

Many of those corporations subsidize community stores and fuel businesses — often the only ones in a village — with the money shared with them from Red Dog.



THE NEWS THIS FRIDAY – MANCHIN FILES AS AN INDEPENDENT: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin said Friday he has left the Democratic Party to become an independent with no party affiliation, our Ramsey Touchberry reports

“Today, our national politics are broken and neither party is willing to compromise to find common ground,” Manchin said in a statement. “To stay true to myself and remain committed to put country before party, I have decided to register as an independent with no party affiliation and continue to fight for America’s sensible majority.”

A spokesperson confirmed that “nothing will change with caucusing with the Democrats,” a move that allows Manchin to keep his gavel.

Manchin’s party affiliation switch comes amid speculation about his political future and long-shot third-party runs for other offices. He shot down conjecture on Wednesday that he would mount a last-minute campaign for governor, an office he previously held. And although he’s also previously declined an independent Senate run, his latest move fueled rumors of another bid for statewide office. Read more on that here. 

From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy, May 31, 2024