News of the Day:
No public, limited news media: Panel sets COVID-19 rules for upcoming Alaska legislative session
James Brooks, December 28, 2020
The public will be barred from the Alaska State Capitol, members of the news media will be prohibited from entering the House and Senate chambers, and lawmakers must wear masks under a set of new anti-COVID rules approved Monday by a committee of the Alaska Legislature.
Any legislator that refuses to submit to a health screening at the Capitol’s entrance “will be denied entrance to the Capitol.” Any lawmaker who refuses to wear a face covering on the floor of the House or Senate “will be escorted … to their individual office where they shall remain,” according to the new enforcement guidelines.
The rules will be in effect only until the House and Senate elect new leaders for the upcoming legislative session, but both halves of the Legislature are deadlocked, and it isn’t certain when either the House or Senate will resolve the leadership question.
Related: State capitols face showdown over COVID powers and spending
David A. Lieb, Associated Press, December 29, 2020
How one bad COVID-19 bet will forever change how the world trades oil
Alfred Cang, World Oil, December 29, 2020
In January, as a mysterious illness ripped through the Chinese city of Wuhan, global oil prices plunged. Two thousand miles away in the island state of Singapore, one of the most powerful men in the world of commodities trading, Lim Oon Kuin, quietly added to his vast stockpiles of fuel – making a bet that China would successfully control the spread of the new disease.
That gamble soured quickly. While China did curb the coronavirus at home, the pandemic that followed brought crude oil prices tumbling as much as 70%. Banks tried to recover loans from Lim’s company, Hin Leong Trading Pte, triggering one of the biggest scandals in the oil industry this century. Lim’s empire collapsed, owing $3.5 billion to 23 banks, and the fallout from the debacle is still reverberating into 2021, shaking out large tracts of the vast and often opaque $4 trillion global oil-trading industry.
Gov. Murphy now says he will try to block transport of LNG at new Gibbstown dock
John Hurdle, New Jersey Spotlight, December 29, 2020
Gov. Phil Murphy says he will try to stop a controversial plan to ship liquefied natural gas through New Jersey’s first LNG export terminal at Gibbstown in Gloucester County, two weeks after New Jersey voted to approve the dock’s construction as a member of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Murphy said in a statement to NJ Spotlight News on Dec. 22 that New Jersey’s vote at the DRBC on the controversial project was on the narrow issue of whether to allow dredging for construction of the dock where LNG would be loaded onto ocean-going tankers. But the statement also said the Murphy administration remains committed to its clean-energy policies, and so would do everything in its power to prevent the new dock being used to transport the fuel.
“The DRBC vote was in support of upholding a dredging permit for the construction of a dock,” Murphy said in a statement issued by his deputy press secretary, Alex Altman, on Tuesday. “It was based upon an extensive and comprehensive scientific and technical analysis of its impact on water quality performed by DRBC staff and examined again during a subsequent hearing.
“The Administration, however, remains unwavering in its commitment to continue advancing critical initiatives to protect the environment and public health for future generations. It will explore all avenues within its authority to prevent the use of this dock for LNG transport,” the statement said. Murphy did not say how he would do that.
Altman declined to explain, after follow-up questions, how the administration can reconcile the vote to approve construction with Murphy’s newly declared intention of stopping LNG transfers there. She refused to say whether the administration understood that approval of construction also meant approval of the LNG project.
Gold miners set for another banner year
Bloomberg News, December 28, 2020
The good times for gold miners are expected to continue next year, especially for those that are able to tighten spending and increase returns to investors.
The rally in gold prices has helped miners expand their margins and generate record levels of free cash flow, allowing many to pass on profits to shareholders already, Scotiabank analyst Tanya Jakusconek said.
“With miners’ balance sheets in great shape, we believe investors will benefit from much higher dividends over the coming years,” Jakusconek wrote in a note to clients. Kinross Gold Corp., for example, offers “particularly compelling value,” as long as it continues to demonstrate sustainable cash flow over the coming quarters.
Our Take: That’s great news for Alaska’s producing (Fort Knox, Kensington, Pogo) and developing (Donlin) mines!
Alaska Gov. Dunleavy favors $2,000 federal stimulus checks, but congressional delegation stays quiet
James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, December 29, 2020
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy told Fox News in a weekend interview he supports a proposal by congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump to pay a $2,000 federal stimulus to most Americans.
The measure passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, refused to hold a vote in the Senate on Tuesday. If it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, it would replace a $600 payment in the just-passed coronavirus relief bill.
In his Sunday interview, Dunleavy said, “I agree with the president: The people of this country need money in their pockets now.”
Alaska’s U.S. senators, Republicans Lisa Murkowski, and Dan Sullivan have not answered questions sent Monday asking whether they support the proposal.
Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, skipped Monday’s vote in the House.
CLIMATE CHANGE CONVERSATIONS
IBM Joins Alliance, Developing Platform To Track Plastic Waste Globally
Jeff Kart, Forbes Technology, December 18, 2020
You might say IBM has joined the Plastic Avengers. The technology giant’s superpower: Designing a new data platform to help track plastic waste and recovery on a global scale.
The Avengers group in this example is officially called The Alliance to End Plastic Waste, and it includes 50 member companies. IBM’s platform is called the Plastics Recovery Insight and Steering Model, or PRISM for short.
The effort is about organizing data so it can be acted on, says Nick Kolesch, vice president of projects at the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.