Alaska House ends month-long standoff, elects speaker
Becky Bohrer, Associated Press, February 14, 2019
Alaska state Rep. Bryce Edgmon, who changed his party affiliation from Democrat to undeclared earlier this week, was elected House speaker on Thursday, ending a standoff that had paralyzed the chamber. The 21-18 vote came on the 31st day of the legislative session — the longest stretch the House had gone without electing a permanent speaker. It also came the day after Gov. Mike Dunleavy released a budget proposal with sweeping cuts. The House was limited in what it could do without a permanent speaker and majority organization. While lawmakers held private and informational public meetings, they had yet to hear a single bill.
Our Take: The leopard changed his spots and became the House speaker.
Findings released regarding governor’s bid to fire head of state oil and gas watchdog agency
Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk, February 14, 2019
The state Department of Law has released a “findings of fact” report on whether Gov. Michael Dunleavy has grounds to remove the head of a state oil and gas watchdog agency. The report was prepared by Tim Petumenos, a private attorney who, at Dunleavy’s request, presided over a hearing last week regarding whether French should remain in his position. By law, AOGCC commissioners can only be fired for cause. Petumenos found “substantial evidence” that French was chronically absent from the office, that he failed to perform routine work that then had to be taken on by others at the agency “and that this affected morale at the office,” he wrote in the report.
Our Take: “ His chronic absences didn’t hurt or delay the work of the commission” – um, because, as Petumenos pointed out – other people were doing his work. It’s a great gig if you can get it – $140,000 a year and you don’t have to show up for work or do your work!
Australia’s coal exports are booming despite climate change concerns
Amy Harder, Axios, February 15, 2019
Coal exports out of this resource-rich nation brought in record-high revenue last year, according to government data released this month.
The big picture: As concerns about climate change grow, coal is considered on its way out. But for many growing economies in Southeast Asia that are Australia’s biggest coal customers, it’s often seen as the preferred, cheapest electricity option.
Driving the news: Coal exports brought in a record $66 billion (in Australian dollars) in export value last year, according to data from the government’s Bureau of Statistics released earlier this month.
The data also shows that coal surpassed iron ore to become the biggest export in Australia, one of the world’s largest exporters of fossil fuels and other resources.
From the Washington Examiner Daily on Energy:
WHITE HOUSE HAS GRANTED ONE QUARTER OF TARIFF EXCLUSION REQUESTS: The White House has granted about one out of every four requests made for an exception to its 25 percent steel tariffs, granting relief to companies that say they can’t find comparable products made inside the U.S.
“As of February 11th, 66,001 steel and 9,548 aluminum exclusion requests have been filed. Overall, 21,468 steel exclusion decisions have been posted (16,093 were approved),” Commerce Department spokesman Kevin Manning told the Washington Examiner. The ratio of requests made to exclusions granted has held steady over the last few months.