New Izembek land swap? New lawsuit, too.
Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media, August 7, 2019
The Wilderness Society and eight other environmental groups have filed a new lawsuit to block a road in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. For nearby King Cove, it’s the latest in a long series of legal and political hurdles, dating back decades.
The lawsuit challenges a land swap agreement Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and the King Cove Corporation signed last month, to create a road corridor that would be owned by the village corporation.
The conservation groups claim the swap violates environmental laws and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
Our take: Yet another example of environmental extremists hampering development without considering all the impacts. This road is not about industry, or the environment; it is about health and safety of a remote population. Maybe all the plaintiffs should go spend a year or two in King Cove!
Preliminary finding would allow oil exploration near Bering River
Elwood Brehmer, Alaska Journal of Commerce, August 7, 2019
Acting Division of Oil and Gas Director Jim Beckham signed a preliminary finding Aug. 2 that, if finalized, would give Cassandra Energy Corp. sole rights to exploring 65,773 acres at the mouth of the Bering River.
The 256-page draft decision would give Cassandra Energy exploration rights to the acreage for 10 years and includes a $1 million work commitment, a contingency established by Beckham based on work proposed by the company, it states.
The division is soliciting public comments on the preliminary exploration license through Oct. 4.
Division of Oil and Gas officials said Cassandra Energy leaders have outlined a general work plan to them but declined to relay that information out of commercial concerns. The company has not submitted formal exploration or operational plans to the state.
The exploration license could eventually be transformed into more formal state oil and gas leases.
Cassandra Energy initially planned to explore the nearby onshore historic Katalla oil field near the Bering River in the early 2000s by drilling from Chugach Alaska Corp. holdings inside the Chugach National Forest. The plan sparked a lawsuit over the U.S. Forest Service’s evaluation of Cassandra’s proposal, according to news reports at the time.
Our take: Aside from the suit from the early 2000s, it sounds like healthy conversation is taking place between state departments, Cassandra, and the locals. “While adjudication of exploration license applications requires multiple rounds of public comment and subsequent evaluation, the process usually doesn’t take more than four years, which is how long it has taken to reach the preliminary decision for Cassandra Energy’s application.” Here’s hoping the regulatory system does its job to ensure responsible development without stalling the project.
From the Daily on Energy:
CENTRIST HOUSE DEMOCRATS RELEASE INNOVATION-FOCUSED CLIMATE AGENDA: The New Democrat Coalition, a centrist group of more than 100 House Democrats, released a list of policy proposals to combat climate change Wednesday, with the goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
The platform contains broad principles and baseline actions uncontroversial among Democrats, such as re-committing the U.S. to the Paris climate change accord.
It endorses carbon pricing as central to decarbonizing the country across all sectors, including manufacturing and agriculture.
It also promotes bipartisan ideas, including investing in R&D for “innovative” clean energy technologies to export abroad; eliminating restrictive regulatory “barriers” hampering renewable energy development; and emphasizing a “technology-inclusive approach” that supports [carbon] capture and nuclear energy.
It supports reinvesting in fossil fuel-dependent communities during the clean energy transition, and confronting “the legacy of pollution” disproportionately impacting people of color and low-income communities.
The coalition also recommends pursuing an “actionable adaptation policy” that includes increased spending on pre-disaster mitigation projects to reduce the impact of flooding and droughts.