Today’s Key Takeaways: Pushing back against ESG. Time for a reality check in Alaska? Location, location, location for AKLNG. Alaska joins western states in rebuking Biden’s proposed land rule. Ballot measure mania in 2024.
NEWS OF THE DAY:
TWO HEARINGS THIS WEEK IN HOUSE GOP PUSHBACK AGAINST ESG: The GOP-led House Financial Services Committee is holding two hearings this week aimed at ESG, part of a broader effort this week to highlight and criticize environment and social goals in finance.
The first, Wednesday, will focus on the proxy process and also the SEC climate disclosure rule.
The second, Friday, will focus on the effects of ESG on housing and insurance.
The panel’s actions are part of a multi-front Republican war against ESG mandates, which has mostly been led by state-level officials, particularly treasurers, but has also featured heavily in the early going in the presidential primary.
From the Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy
Drilling for Oil on the Moon
Liam Denning, Bloomberg Opinion, July 9, 2023
There’s an ocean of oil and gas frozen in place beneath the Arctic. The cascading impact of climate change would argue for leaving it there. Yet the melting of the High North’s icy barriers also feeds the ambitions of nations near and far to exploit it. Countless headlines herald a new scramble for the Arctic’s hydrocarbon riches.
It’s time for a reality check. As one oilman put it to me recently in Alaska, Arctic oil production “is the closest thing to drilling on the moon.”
The moon, with politics thrown in, one might add.
The decision to drill is usually, at heart, an economic one. But the Arctic’s riches also sit atop several grinding fault lines: between development and conservation; between the rivalries of great powers and the partisan scuffles of national politics; between the local and the planetary; between fear and greed. As much as expense and physical risk, these underlying frictions determine whether or when those frozen barrels see the light of day.
Which brings us to the booms and busts of Alaska. The state has huge potential resources, but its heyday was a generation ago. A revival of sorts is happening now: The White House recently approved ConocoPhillips’ Willow project, a new oil field in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, angering environmentalists but pleasing state leaders and delegates on both sides of the red-blue divide. Oil production there should begin rising again after three decades of decline.
Alaska Has A Competitive Edge In Energy Exports – Video
Liam Denning, Bloomberg Opinion, July 9, 2023
Biden’s proposed conservation land rule rebuked by Western states in scathing new letters
Breanne Deppisch, Washington Examiner, July 6, 2023
Western states and Alaska are taking aim at the Biden administration’s proposed public lands rule, arguing it violates federal law and comes at the expense of energy, mining, and agricultural interests in their states.
The Bureau of Land Management’s Public Lands Rule, which was announced in late March, would allow the agency to lease federal lands for conservation purposes under its existing “multiple-use” framework, essentially giving conservationists and other environmental groups who are opposed to new fossil fuel development the same right to bid on federal leases as oil companies, miners, and cattle ranchers.
Questions on minimum wage, paid sick leave and campaign funding could be heading to Alaska voters
Andrew Kitchenman, Alaska Beacon, July 10, 2023
Proposed ballot measures would raise Alaska minimum wage, add mandatory paid sick leave, as well as limit campaign contributions and state spending on party candidate nominations.
The Alaska Division of Elections received the proposals this week.
One proposed ballot measure would make a series of changes to state labor laws. It would raise the hourly minimum wage — currently $10.85 — to $13 in July 2025, $14 in July 2026 and $15 in July 2027, and annually according to inflation after that. It would require employers with 15 or more employees to offer 56 hours — equal to seven days — of accrued paid sick leave. Smaller employers would have to offer 40 hours.
The measure would also bar employers from requiring workers to attend meetings on religious or political matters unrelated to their work.
Former state labor commissioner Ed Flanagan of Juneau, a primary sponsor of the measure, said the labor movement’s “Fight for Fifteen” took off soon after he and others proposed the state’s last large minimum wage increase, which voters passed in 2014. That effort increased Alaska’s minimum wage to $9.75 in January 2016, and required annual increases after that.
More than 20 states have higher minimums.
“I’m not saying we have to be the highest, but we sure as hell shouldn’t be in the middle of the pack,” Flanagan said.
He described the increase as “moderate,” considering that inflation is already set to drive Alaska’s minimum wage to well over $11 in 2024 and over $12 in 2025.
Alaska AFL-CIO labor federation President Joelle Hall supports the measure and said union members would work to get it on the ballot and approved by voters.
She said all three pieces of the bills set standards that all workers should expect.
Without paid sick leave, Hall said some sick workers have to ask themselves the question: “Do I not work today and make no money or do I go to work sick?”
Paid sick leave protects not only workers, she said, but everyone they come into contact with.
Another measure put forward this week would reinstitute campaign contribution limits. Alaska’s previous limits were struck down for being too low. A ballot question submitted earlier this year was withdrawn after the Department of Law raised concerns about a provision that would limit candidates to raising no more than one-fourth of their contributions from out-of-state donors, according to Scott Kendall, a lawyer who worked on drafting both versions of the campaign contribution proposal. The new proposal doesn’t include that provision.
The measure would set a new series of limits to political candidates, parties and groups seeking to influence whether a candidate is elected. For example, contributions to individual candidates would be capped at $2,000 over a two-year election cycle, essentially twice as much as the $500 limit for each year under the old, invalidated law.