ICYMI: GOP Tax Reform is Creating Jobs, Increasing Wages, Growing the Economy - And Cutting Your Monthly Energy and Water Bills
Jun 20, 2018
ICYMI: This week marks six months since Congress passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and Americans are reaping the benefits. Some 90 percent of wage earners now have higher take-home pay and companies of all sizes are raising wages, offering bonuses, and increasing 401(k) matches.
We’ve talked a lot about the substantial benefits that opening a small fraction of Alaska’s non-wilderness Coastal Plain will bring, but that’s just one of the positive developments the GOP tax reform bill has in store for our nation’s energy. The cut in corporate tax rates from 35% to 21% is also affecting your utility bills. Americans for Tax Reform recently catalogued 102 utilities around the country that are cutting rates and using the savings for infrastructure upgrades, or to prevent future rate increases.
One estimate, by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, found that utilities will save about $1.1 billion nationwide this year alone. That figure will grow over time, rising to $5.2 billion in 2020. And those benefits are reaching every corner of the country, including Alaska.
Just last Friday, AEL&P, Juneau’s electric company, asked the Regulatory Commission of Alaska for permission to lower rates by 6.73 percent starting August 1. If the request is approved, thousands of Alaskans could also receive partial refunds for bills paid between January 1 and August 1. The decrease in corporate taxes means AEL&P would transfer $2.4 million in profit back to its customers.
The takeaway is clear: tax cuts are working. Lower rates are leading to utility savings, which are being passed on to customers in the form of lower electric bills, lower gas bills, and lower water bills—yet another way that the GOP tax reform bill is helping Americans keep more of their hard-earned dollars.
- Read more from Americans for Tax Reform: https://www.atr.org/thanks-tax-reform-utilities-are-lowering-rates
- Read more from the Juneau Empire: http://juneauempire.com/news/local/2018-06-15/alaska-electric-light-and-power-proposes-steep-rate-cut
Mar 7, 2017
Today, the Senate will continue debate on a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Planning 2.0 Rule, which was finalized in a parting shot by the Obama administration on December 12, 2016. BLM’s rule is a significant departure from how the federal agency is required, under federal law, to partner with state and local governments in land management planning for grazing, energy and mineral development, and recreational use of federal lands in western states.
Last month, the House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 44 on a bipartisan basis with 234 votes. The Senate version of the resolution has 18 sponsors, including every Republican from a western state with BLM lands within its borders. They’re joined by nearly 90 stakeholder organizations – representing millions of local voices from Alaska and the west – who have voiced their criticisms of the rule:
- “RDC asserts this one-size fits all approach does not address Alaska’s unique qualities and resources. It ignores the characteristics of Alaska to be self-sufficient and to responsibly develop our natural resources for the betterment of all Alaskans and the nation as well.” (Resource Development Council)
- “Planning 2.0 was purported by the agency to fix the broken land management and planning process. It did exactly the opposite.” (Alaska Miners Association)
- “This new set of planning regulations undermines local input, takes away the public planning process at a local level, puts control of planning to managers outside of Alaska and employs a method of landscape planning.” (Fortymile Mining District)
Western State and National Stakeholders
- “Many provisions of BLM’s Planning 2.0 rule are contrary to and/or exceed BLM’s statutory authority under FLPMA. The rule redefines the concept of multiple-use, prioritizes preservation and conservation over sustained yield of natural resources, relegates governors, county commissioners and other elected officials to a secondary role, and limits public involvement.” (American Exploration & Mining Association)
- “Congress, through the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, recognizes the importance of the public domain to the future of the western states. Through defined multiple use principles, Congress has mandated that these lands be used to meet “the nation’s need for domestic sources of minerals, energy, food, timber and fiber from public lands.” BLM Planning 2.0 runs counter to these national interests.” (American Farm Bureau Federation)
- “Planning 2.0 provides no certainty for land users and instead creates ambiguity in the planning process.” (Independent Petroleum Association of America)
- “We believe the final rule still front loads public comments, which could give people outside the planning area more opportunities to influence planning documents, restricts consistency reviews with state, local plans, policies and programs. Also, the final rule replaces decision authority at the ‘state director and field manager’ with the ‘BLM’ in general.” (Montana Electric Cooperatives’ Association)
- “As partners with the federal government, we continue to encourage the BLM to engage in meaningful collaboration with local stakeholders during the development of policies and guidelines. And despite representations by the BLM to do just that, we remain unconvinced that Planning 2.0 in its final form does much to satisfy the objective of meaningful collaboration and consultation with non-federal governmental entities.” (National Association of Counties)
- “Public meetings were not held in the rural areas or communities where the impacts would be most heavily felt. Instead, they were held in downtown Sacramento, CA and downtown Denver, CO, where attendance was overwhelmingly urban dwellers without livelihoods or homes at stake, or any real knowledge of the impacts on the people and businesses that exist in the impacted areas. This led to biased and inaccurate public sentiment.” (Public Lands Council)
- “Besides delaying oil and natural gas development indefinitely, Planning 2.0 would prevent ranching, mining, timber harvesting and other productive uses of the West’s working landscapes that sustain rural communities and livelihoods.” (Western Energy Alliance)
Mar 5, 2017
Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), this past year was no different. The agency’s latest Mineral Commodity Summaries report found that the United States imported at least 50 percent of our supply of at least 50 minerals in 2016. That’s a notable increase year-over-year, and it’s a dramatic jump compared to 1978, when our nation imported half of our supply of just 25 minerals.
While partial dependence is alarming enough, USGS also found that America was 100 percent dependent on foreign nations for our supply of 20 minerals in 2016. Again, that’s a step backwards year-over-year, and it’s a steep spike from 1978, when we imported our entire supply of just seven minerals.
Graphite is a key component of the lithium ion batteries that power laptops and electric vehicles—and again, we imported 100 percent of our supply last year.
Niobium is used in steel alloys for natural gas pipelines and jet engines—but 100 percent of our supply came from abroad in 2016.
Aluminum? 52 percent.
Platinum? 73 percent.
Potash? 90 percent.
Rhenium? 81 percent.
Silver? 67 percent.
Zinc? 82 percent.
For years, Chairman Murkowski has warned that our nation’s mineral security is deteriorating. She has stressed that America is on the verge of trading our foreign oil dependence for an equally, if not more, harmful dependence on foreign minerals. And she has championed legislation that would bring our mineral policies into the 21st century by reforming the notoriously slow federal permitting process, increasing R&D into alternatives, promoting recycling, and other sensible steps.
Chairman Murkowski plans to introduce a new version of her mineral policy reform bill in the weeks ahead. For the sake of our nation’s manufacturing sector, and just about every other job in America, let’s hope 2017 is the year that this growing vulnerability finally receives the public attention—and policy response—it deserves.
Jan 29, 2016
Last night, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wrapped up day two of the Senate’s consideration of her broad, bipartisan energy legislation, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, by highlighting the bill’s provisions to improve our nation’s mineral security. Murkowski called the mineral subtitle of the bill – which is drawn directly from her American Mineral Security Act – “key for our economic security, energy security, and our national security.”
“We take for granted that our minerals and metals that we have available to us are going to continue to be available. Unfortunately, most of us do not really pay attention to the fact that so many of the things that we rely on for so much of what we need in our everyday world come from minerals. We just do not think about it. We assume that stuff just gets here. We do not think about where it comes from. We should not ever take for granted our mineral security.”
Murkowski flagged 19 minerals that we are 100-percent reliant on, and named a number of them to include cesium and graphite, of which there are known deposits in Alaska. “What do we use them in? We use them in transistors, electrical components, mirrors, rubber, vacuum tubes, photo cells, bicycles, fishing rods, golf iron shafts, baseball bats, defense applications, medical equipment, atomic clocks, aluminum, glass, enamel, batteries, gaskets, brake lining, fire retardant, and magnets,” she added.
Murkowski underscored the importance of critical minerals by adding that more than 25,000 pounds of new minerals are needed per person per year in the United States to make the items that we use for basic human needs like infrastructure, energy, transportation, communication, and defense, according to the National Research Council.
“To put it even more bluntly, our foreign mineral dependence is a mounting threat to our economy, to our national security, and to our international competitiveness. We cannot lose sight of that international competitiveness. The absence of just one critical mineral or metal could disrupt entire technologies, entire industries, and create a ripple effect throughout our entire economy.”
Murkowski concluded her remarks by talking about her bill’s provisions to rebuild our nation’s mineral supply chain, especially when it comes to fixing permitting delays for mines and assessing the domestic mineral resource base.
Murkowski’s full remarks as delivered and floor charts used during her remarks are below.
Ms. MURKOWSKI: Mr. President, we are winding down the day here. We have had a good opportunity for good discussion and debate about the Energy Policy Modernization Act. We took votes on three amendments, and we just concluded voice votes on six additional ones on top of the two voice votes that we had. So we are moving through some of the amendments, and I think that bodes well for us.
As I mentioned earlier, we will hopefully have an opportunity to line up a series of votes in advance so that when Members come back next week we all know where we will be going and the direction. I wish to take just a few minutes tonight, before we wrap things up, to talk about a section in the bill that I believe is very important--not only important to the Energy Policy Modernization Act but really very important to our Nation as a whole.
The Presiding Officer and I hail from a State that has been an oil producer for decades now. It is oil that sustains us, fills our coffers, and allows for us to have an economy that is thriving and strong. It is struggling right now as we look at low production combined with low cost, but we also are a State that enjoys great resources when it comes to our minerals.
We have long talked in this body over the course of years about the vulnerability that we have as a nation when we have to rely on others for our energy resources. We talk about energy independence, we talk about energy security, and, I think we recognize that when we can produce more on our own without others, it makes us less vulnerable.
Energy security translates to national security. I think we pretty much got that message around here, and we are doing more within this Energy Policy Modernization Act to make sure that we are less reliant on others for our energy sources, whether it is what we are doing to produce more fossil fuels or being able to leverage technologies that will allow us to access our renewable resources in a way that is stronger and more robust, again to ensure we have greater energy security.
When we think about energy security, we should not forget mineral security--the minerals that also help to make us a great nation, and a nation that is less vulnerable when we are able to produce more of our own.
For several Congresses--this is actually the third consecutive Congress--I have introduced legislation on this subject. It is a bill that I have titled the ``American Mineral Security Act.'' What we have done within the energy bill is take much of that legislation and include it as part of a subtitle on critical minerals.
Maybe it is because I authored it, but I feel pretty strongly that this is a pretty good version. This is a pretty good title that is contained in the EPMA, and I think that passage of not only the critical minerals piece as part of EPMA is key for our economic security, energy security, and our national security. It is just the right thing for us to be doing.
We take for granted that our minerals and metals that we have available to us are going to continue to be available. Unfortunately, most of us do not really pay attention to the fact that so many of the things that we rely on for so much of what we need in our everyday world come from minerals. We just do not think about it. We assume that stuff just gets here. We do not think about where it comes from. We should not ever take for granted our mineral security. We should not ever take for granted what it is that we need.
People talk about rare earth elements, rare earth minerals. When we think ``rare,'' what is ``rare''? What exactly does that mean? Why do we need them? What do we use them in? Rare earth elements make many aspects of our modern life possible.
We talk a lot about how we are going to move to more renewable energy sources.
You are going to need rare earth elements for wind turbines. You are going to need it for your solar panels. You are going to need it for your rechargeable batteries. You are going to need it for your hard drives, your smartphones, and the screens on your computer. You are going to need it for your digital cameras, for your defense applications, for audio amplification. That is just what we put on this particular chart.
It is important to recognize that so much of what allows us to do the good things that we do--to communicate, to help defend, to help power our country--comes to us because we have access to certain minerals.
According to the National Research Council, more than 25,000 pounds of new minerals are needed per person per year in the United States to make the items that we use for basic human needs, infrastructure, energy, transportation, communication, and defense. You might say: Whoa, 25,000 pounds per person per year--I cannot possibly need all that stuff.
But, Mr. President, you and I fly back and forth to Alaska. Those airplanes we fly on need these minerals. Every one of these young people, as well as us sitting in here, all have a smartphone or some way we are communicating, and we all need this. All of the staff who are working on their computers need that screen to look at, and we all need this.
When you think about it, it is like OK, maybe that number is right. Bill Gates put it quite memorably last year. He wrote a blog post entitled: ``Have You Hugged a Concrete Pillar Today?'' It is really a very interesting read, and it reminds us that you take for granted the things that we need, the things that we use on a daily basis, the things that are under our feet as we are walking here to work.
Minerals and metals are really the foundation of our modern society. Our access to them enables a range of products and technologies that greatly add to our quality of life. Yet many of the trends are going in the wrong direction, which creates vulnerabilities for our country.
We have a real problem on our hands right now as a result of this reliance on minerals and the fact that so many of our minerals that we need today we must import. You are thinking: 25,000 pounds per person per year is a lot; where are we getting it from? How much of it are we relying on other countries, asking their permission to bring it in?
It is not just rare earth elements. The reality is that the United States now depends on many, many other nations for a vast array of minerals and metals. We have the numbers to back that up. In 1978 the U.S. Geological Survey reported that the United States was importing at least 50 percent of our supply of 25 minerals, and 100 percent of 7.
We recently got the latest figures from the USGS. Our foreign mineral dependence is now far deeper. In 2015, last year, we imported at least 50 percent of 47 different minerals, including 100 percent of 19 of them. On this list you have the minerals for which we are 100-percent reliant on foreign nations, whether it is bauxite, cesium--which we have in Alaska--graphite--which we have in Alaska--indium, iodine, manganese, mica, niobium, quartz, crystal. I am going to stop now because they get more difficult to pronounce.
These are the minerals that we are 100-percent reliant on other nations for. What do we use them in? We use them in transistors, electrical components, mirrors, rubber, vacuum tubes, photo cells, bicycles, fishing rods, golf iron shafts, baseball bats, defense applications, medical equipment, atomic clocks, aluminum, glass, enamel, batteries, gaskets, brake lining, fire retardant, magnets. Again, that is just what we can put on the charts.
We are 100-percent reliant on other countries for some of the things that are basic everyday products that we do not think about. Again, we take for granted that these things are going to continue to be readily available--that it is always going to be there for us.
For example, look at the cell phone. Let us look at the elements that it takes to make a smartphone. When you look at what goes into the smartphone, for your screen, indium is part of the screen. Alumina and silica are part of the screen. It is a variety of rare earth. All of these rare earths that we are looking at are 100-percent reliant on other nations for what goes into the screen.
For the battery for your smartphone, we have lithium, graphite, and manganese. Manganese and graphite are 100-percent reliant on foreign sources. We are 50-percent reliant on lithium.
You have tantalum, and we are 100-percent reliant on that. There is tin, lead, copper, silver. We are 70-percent reliant on tin. It goes to show that the things that we take for granted, the things that we are all using all the time to communicate, to send messages home, to do our business, we cannot have them unless we get this from somebody else, from some other country. There are options for us though, just as there are options for us with energy sources. We can find ways to help us produce more when it comes to minerals and mineral capacity so that we are less reliant.
We had a hearing before our energy committee, and we had a witness by the name of Dan McGroarty, who leads the American Resources Policy Network. He provided some pretty good examples of our Nation's foreign mineral dependence. He pointed out that the minerals needed for clean energy technologies often come from abroad, threatening our ability to manufacture those technologies here at home. This is what he wrote in his prepared testimony:
Graphite is key to [electric vehicle] batteries and energy storage. The U.S. produces zero natural graphite--we are 100 percent import dependent. Indium is needed for flat-screen TVs and solar photovoltaic panels. Most indium is derived from zinc mining--the U.S. is 81 percent dependent for the zinc we use, and we produce zero indium.Thin-film solar panels are made of C-I-G-S materials--those letters stand for Copper, Indium, Gallium, and Selenium. We have a 600,000 metric ton copper gap at present--demand exceeding supply. Selenium is recovered from copper processing. Gallium comes from aluminum processing--we are 99% import-dependent--and we are closing American aluminum smelters at a record pace.
Mr. McGroarty also highlighted the national security implications of our foreign mineral dependence, explaining:
We need rhenium for high-strength alloy in the jet turbines in the F-35 and other fighter aircraft. Rhenium is dependent on copper processing--and we are 83% import-dependent. Congress has directed the Defense Department to purchase electrolytic manganese, used in key super-alloys, for the [defense stockpile]--the U.S. produces zero manganese. We need rare earths in too many applications to list: Wind turbines, lasers for medical and national security applications, smart phones and smart bombs. We produce zero rare earths--and we are once again 100% dependent on China.
You may recall not too many years ago now when there was a little bit of an issue going on between Japan and China. China withheld delivery of certain rare earth elements that Japan needed for its manufacturing. China was holding the keys. China is holding the keys with many of these minerals.
Our foreign dependence is dangerous enough. You know that full well, Mr. President. The concentration of our foreign supply presents additional challenges. Our minerals often come from a handful of countries that are less than stable or that might be willing to cut off the supply to us to serve their own purposes or to meet their own needs. They are going to take care of themselves first. If they do not have much supply, they are going to help themselves first.
When I look at our foreign mineral dependence and where those minerals are coming from, I see reason after reason to be concerned. It is not hard to see the prospect of a day of reckoning when this will become real to all of us, when we simply cannot acquire a mineral or when the market for a mineral changes so dramatically that entire industries are affected.
To put it even more bluntly, our foreign mineral dependence is a mounting threat to our economy, to our national security, and to our international competitiveness. We cannot lose sight of that international competitiveness. The absence of just one critical mineral or metal could disrupt entire technologies, entire industries, and create a ripple effect throughout our entire economy.
I think it is well past time for us to be taking this seriously. We have seen some good signs from the administration. However, the reality is that our executive agencies are not as coordinated about this as they really should be. They do not have all of the statutory authorities needed to make the necessary progress on this issue.
There is just no substitute for legislation, and that is why I am very pleased that the members of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee accepted my language in our bill to rebuild this mineral supply chain. We did this in committee with almost no substantive changes.
When it comes to permitting delays for new mines--you have heard me say this before--our Nation is among the worst in the world. We are almost dead last. We are stumbling right out of the gate, right out of the very start of the supply chain, and then we do not ever seem to be able to catch up.
Where do you place the blame? The fall begins with us here. When we decide that a mineral is critical, we need to understand what we have. We need to survey our lands. We need to determine the extent of our resource base so we know what we can produce right here at home. If we do not know, it makes it pretty difficult to get anybody interested in production. We should keep working on alternatives, on efficiency, and recycling options. That is not what this is about. We need to keep doing that, especially for those minerals where our Nation does not and will not ever have significant abundance there.
We should build out a forecasting capability so that we can gain a better understanding of mineral-related trends and also an early warning when we see that there might be issues arising. We also need to have a qualified workforce. We need to make sure that we have those that can access this mineral resource, this mineral wealth.
The United States right now is down to a handful of mining schools. A large share of their faculty will be eligible to retire in the near future. We need some smart, young people who are interested and want to go into these fields.
Provisions to tackle all of these challenges are contained within the bill. They have good support. The Director of the United States Geological Survey, the CEOs of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association are among some.
State witnesses, former military officials, and many others have endorsed this approach. We have a good opportunity to bring our mineral policies into the 21st century, and the mineral subtitle in this bipartisan Energy bill offers us that chance.
I want to note the other members of the energy committee who have been very helpful in helping to advance this legislation. Senator Risch was very helpful as was Senator Crapo of Idaho and Senator Heller. They were all cosponsors of the original bill with me. There were many other cosponsors from both sides of the aisle in recent Congresses, and we also thank the Presiding Officer for his support as well.
I also wish to acknowledge Secretary Moniz, the Secretary of Energy, and his team over there at DOE, and Director Kimball, who is the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey. They helped us a lot when it came to drafting this bill, and I thank them for that.
I have consumed more time than I should, but I hope everyone can hear the enthusiasm I have in ensuring that as we modernize our energy policies, we do not take a step forward to help address what we need to do on the energy front and fail to bring along the growing concerns that we have in needing to modernize and understand our mineral resources and how we can ensure that there is that level of true energy security that helps us with our economic security and certainly our national security.
With that, I see that my colleague from Alabama is here, so I yield the floor.
Jul 28, 2015
ICYMI: It’s been one of those weeks in King Cove, Alaska. The U.S. Coast Guard performed three emergency medical evacuations over the past seven days – two of which happened on the same day – in the small, isolated fishing community on the Alaska Peninsula. A total of 31 medevacs have now been carried out since December 23, 2013 – the day Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected a short, one-lane, gravel, non-commercial road to connect King Cove with the all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay.
Ten of those medevacs have required the U.S. Coast Guard, even though such service is not part of their core mission, comes at very high cost to taxpayers, and forces flight crews to risk their own lives in terrible weather conditions. The Secretary of the Interior has the authority to ensure that King Cove’s residents have reliable medical transport during emergencies caused by illness or injury – but she has done nothing to help.
The 31 medevacs (Note: the 31st medevac occurred earlier today, but did not require the Coast Guard) that have taken place in the past 18 months reinforce the need for a real solution. To that end, Sen. Murkowski has filed to the highway bill an amendment that would authorize the road. She included similar language in the Interior Appropriations bill earlier this year, saying it was time for Congress to take the decision away from Secretary Jewell. - Dillon
The U.S. Coast Gard evacuated a seriously ill patient from King Cove, Alaska on July 27. It was the third time in a week that the Coast Guard was needed to medevac a patient from King Cove because of the communities isolation and regular bad weather.
Coast Guard Medevacs King Cove Elder to Anchorage Today Due to Critical Health Concerns
This marks the 3rd Coast Guard Medevac in King Cove in One Week
King Cove, AK – July 27, 2015 – The Coast Guard medevaced a King Cove male in his 70s today following serious concerns about his health condition.
“Because of previous medical conditions, there was cause for concern,” Coast Guard District 17 Petty Officer Kelly Parker said. “In the interest of time, it was better for the patient to be taken all the way to Anchorage by the Coast Guard so he could get a higher level of care.”
The patient arrived at the King Cove Clinic yesterday afternoon. Due to a weather hold (fog and limited visibility), Guardian Flight was unable to come into King Cove yesterday and today. The patient was stabilized overnight. However, the Coast Guard said his condition started to deteriorate this morning. A Coast Guard MH 60 Jayhawk helicopter was launched and arrived in King Cove at noon today to medevac the patient to Cold Bay’s all-weather airport. Once there, the Coast Guard transferred the patient to a C-130, which transported the elderly man to an Anchorage hospital.
“If we had a road linking King Cove to Cold Bay, our EMS squad could have transported the patient to Cold Bay last night, rather than having to wait until his condition worsened,” said King Cove (Native) Corporation spokeswoman Della Trumble. “We’re praying that he will be o.k. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell could have solved this problem so easily 18 months ago. Instead, we continue to put the lives of patients and others (Coast Guard personnel) at risk.”
This was the third Coast Guard medevac in one week. The Coast Guard conducted two back-to-back medevacs in King Cove last Monday (July 20, 2015). This is the fourth Coast Guard medevac this year. Since U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected King Cove’s life-saving road, there have been 30 medevacs. Ten of those involved the Coast Guard.
The people of King Cove have battled for more than three decades to get a life-saving road corridor linking the isolated community to the all-weather Cold Bay Airport, located just 25 miles away. The small stretch of road needed (approximately 11 miles) would connect to existing roads in the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The road would provide reliable and safe transportation to medevac seriously ill or injured patients during frequent periods of harsh weather when travel by plane or boat is too dangerous.
In 2009, Congress and the President approved the road and a massive land swap (61,000 acres from the State and the King Cove Corporation) in exchange for a small, 206-acre, single-lane gravel road corridor to the nearby all-weather Cold Bay Airport. Following an environmental impact statement, which King Cove residents believe was biased, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the road and land exchange just two days before Christmas 2013. On June 4, 2014, King Cove tribes, the corporation, the city and the Aleutians East Borough sued Jewell and other federal officials over the EIS and the road issue. In June 2015, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved legislative language by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, directing the Interior Department to do an equal-value land transfer to allow the construction of a connector road.
Photos and video availablehere.
For more information, visit http://www.aleutianseast.org/.
Kelly Parker, Petty Officer
Coast Guard District 17
Spokesperson, King Cove Corporation
Office: (907) 497-2312
Home: (907) 497-2376
Cell: (907) 223-9289
Communications Director, Aleutians East Borough
Office: (907) 274-7579
Cell: (907) 947-5778
Jun 23, 2015
ICYMI: I really couldn’t help but pass along this article from mynorthwest.com, which comes across like satire and really doesn’t need any additional commentary from us. Just read the headline, and the first couple of paragraphs, and you’ll see yet another reason why Shell is a model tenant for the Port of Seattle, and why the “kayaktivists” maybe – just maybe – shouldn’t be allowed to drive decisions made there.
Shell foots bill to clean up Seattle protesters' barge anchors, cables (MyNorthwest.com)
By Richard D. Oxley
While Seattle was focused on kayaktivists attempting to blockade Shell's oil drill rig on Monday, an entirely different operation was taking place under the water's surface.
A cleanup crew with divers spent the morning picking up pieces of anchor and cable left from the initial Shell protests in May. The cement anchor blocks and steel cables were left behind from the Solar Pioneer protest barge. Divers say they damaged a dive park and a protected habitat.
The job cost approximately $10,000, according to Koos du Preez with the Seattle branch of Global Underwater Explorers, a nonprofit aquatic conservation group.
Activists on the barge dropped massive cement blocks into the water to act as anchors — du Preez estimated that they weigh around 2,000-4,000 pounds each.
"The Solar Pioneer barge dropped a couple of big mooring blocks right in the middle of a dive park," du Preez said. "They had mooring cables attached to the barge; there were big tidal swings and with those tidal swings they wrapped around structures frequently visited by divers and also house marine life."
The Department of Natural Resources reviewed the incident and wanted all the cement blocks and cables removed from Seacrest Park.
"The operation was very costly and the activist group, I suspect, did not have that much resources to clean up the dive park," du Preez said. "We worked with them and said we would take care of the operation to make sure it was done professionally."
But the cost and materials needed posed a challenge.
That's when GUE got help from an unlikely source: Shell, the company activists were protesting when they used the barge.
"One of our members took a long shot and dropped an email directly to the CEO, Ben van Beurden, at Shell," du Preez said. "We didn't think much of it at the time, but low and behold, we get a call from Shell in Alaska. Our email somehow bounced around in the upper echelon of Shell."
"The next thing you know, someone calls us from Alaska and said,'We'd love to help out,'" he said.
Shell offered to help foot the bill for the cleanup and made some introductions to Foss Maritime, the Seattle company that hosted the oil giant. Foss offered to help with the bill as well, and provided vessels to assist. Barge owner John Sellers, who leased the barge to protesters, also stepped in to help.
Along with Global Diving and Salvage, the crews untangled the underwater cables and removed the debris as kayaktivists paddled in the background.
"Obviously, if Shell wasn't in the area, the activists wouldn't be in the area, and none of this would have happened," du Preez said. "I, and our group, consider this whole incident as collateral damage, as the net result of all this activity."
du Preez noted that nobody is blaming Shell for the damage done to the dive park, and that GUE is thankful for their help.
"The nature of Shell's business attracts this kind of activist behavior and Shell recognizes that, and has social responsibility programs in place to deal with this kind of thing," he said.
du Preez said his team still has some work to do at the dive park.
"We haven't done rehabilitation or rebuilding and that needs to come in the future," he said.
Jun 2, 2015
ICYMI: Keystone – Four (More) Months and Counting
Just wanted to bring to your attention that today marks four full months since the State Department’s deadline for interagency comments on the Keystone XL pipeline.
We’re sure that like all of us, you’re shocked – shocked! – that the project remains stranded in completely arbitrary regulatory purgatory. And by that we mean, not shocked in the slightest.
In mid-January, during the Senate debate on bipartisan legislation to approve the cross-border permit for this long-delayed pipeline, the State Department announced a deadline of February 2 for interagency comments on whether it would be in the national interest.
The Washington Post reported that as a result of this “tight deadline” the Department was “picking up the process where it suspended it last spring.” And the State Department confirmed on February 4th that it had received comments from all eight relevant agencies.
So, what has happened over the past four months? By all appearances, a whole lot of nothing. The State Department could have spent two full weeks on the comments submitted by each agency. (We wish we had that sort of time to meander through our daily work.) Yet Keystone XL remains in limbo due to an Administration that just won’t make a decision.
The Keystone XL pipeline’s cross-border permit has now been stranded for more than 2,447 days and counting. The President has dismissed the project as a “single oil pipeline.” And the Quadrennial Energy Review spent hundreds of pages diagnosing our nation’s energy infrastructure needs and challenges.
Somewhere along the way, you’d think that President Obama would make a final decision on Keystone XL, instead of validating the Senate’s decision to start the 114th Congress with a bipartisan bill on this subject. You’d think the President would recognize the project’s potential for job creation in a still-struggling economy. You’d think he would recognize that pipelines are a safe, clean, and efficient option for transporting the energy that America needs in an increasingly unstable world. But at four (more) months and counting, you’d be wrong.
CNN: As Keystone vote looms, it's crunch time for federal agencies to weigh in
By Kevin Bohn, CNN
Washington (CNN) – With the Senate expected to vote soon on the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, the State Department is now giving eight federal agencies two weeks to weigh in on it.
The State Department on Friday notified those agencies have only until February 2 "to provide their views on the national interest with regard to the Keystone XL Pipeline permit application," a department official told CNN Saturday, adding that the department "continues its review" of the pipeline's permit application.
The State Department is involved because the pipeline originates outside U.S. borders, and is reviewing whether TransCanada Corp.'s 1,179-mile project is in the national interest. The U.S. government's review had been delayed pending a decision by the Supreme Court of Nebraska, one of the states it would run through. That court recently ruled the pipeline could proceed. So now it is up to the State Department to make its recommendation.
The setting of the deadline for such entities as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Commerce and Interior departments could be a key indicator as observers wait for the administration to make a final determination of its position. The White House has said it was waiting for the State Department's recommendation before making its opinion known.
Proponents of the pipeline got a boost this week with the release of a new CNN/ORC pollshowing a majority of Americans favoring construction of the pipeline, which would bring Canadian oil to the Gulf of Mexico for refining.
The survey said 57% supported it going forward and 28% opposing.
Earlier this month the Republican-majority House of Representatives passed a bill to force construction, arguing it would create jobs and help guarantee energy independence. With Republicans now in control of the Senate, they have also made the Keystone a priority and promised a vote soon.
The Senate resumes debate this coming week, with all 54 Republicans there expected to support it along with as many as nine Democrats.
"It is well past time, some six years past time as far as many of us are concerned. And we would like to see this pipeline moving," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters last week. "At the end of the day what we're talking about with Keystone XL is jobs."
The White House has threatened that President Obama would veto the measure because Congress is trying to circumvent the current process, and it is unclear if Congress would be able to muster two-thirds of each house to override a veto.
"The President will make the decision that is best for the United States, that process is not finished yet. When it is done, a decision will come. Congress is trying to front run the process for politics," White House Senior Counselor Dan Pfeiffer said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
May 28, 2015
ICYMI: Sen. Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined Brian Scheid and Herman Wang from Platts on Capitol Crude: The U.S. Oil Policy Podcast. During the podcast, Murkowski discussed her efforts to lift the current U.S. ban on crude oil exports and outlined the benefits of ending this outdated energy policy. Take a listen…
Senator Murkowski quizzed on her efforts to repeal the US crude export ban (Platts)
By Brian Scheid and Herman Wang – May 26, 2015
Capitol Crude: The U.S. Oil Policy Podcast
Senator Lisa Murkowski is the featured guest on this week's Capitol Crude, as Platts senior editors Brian Scheid and Herman Wang interview the Alaska Republican and chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee about her efforts to lift the US' longstanding restrictions on crude oil exports.
From her office in the Hart Senate Building in Washington, Murkowski discussed her recently introduced bill to repeal the restrictions and why the arguments of some refiners against changing the policy do not jibe with the reality of global markets and US trade policy in other goods and commodities. And she appealed to national security concerns, saying the US could use crude exports to weaken Russia's hold over Europe's energy trade and also benefit allies, such as Japan, which imports oil from Iran.
May 28, 2015
ICYMI: From this morning’s edition of The Hill: “Ending the export ban creates a global market for U.S. oil that will increase production and stabilize prices. The U.S. once dominated the energy markets, with the right policies it can do so again.”
End the ban on oil exports (The Hill)
By Merrill Matthews, Ph.D. | May 28, 2015
The country has just taken another step towards energy independence—which also means energy security.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), along with 10 other Senate cosponsors, have introduced the Energy Supply Distribution Act (S. 1312), whose primary purpose is to end the 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude oil.
Congress passed a crude oil export ban in 1975 as an understandable, if ineffective, response to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ efforts to use access to crude oil as a political weapon.
OPEC’s decision to cut back oil production left the U.S. with higher gas prices and often long gas lines. For one of the first times Americans felt the helplessness that comes when foreign countries had us at their mercy.
U.S. oil production had already been declining, having reached its peak in 1970 with an average of 9,637 million barrels of oil per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By 1975 production had declined by 1.3 million barrels a day.
So Congress wanted to ensure that any U.S. oil and natural gas produced in the U.S. stayed in the U.S. The ban allowed the politicians to claim they were doing something without actually doing anything. But it never made much sense.
First, the ban is on crude oil exports, not refined gasoline products. But nobody puts crude oil in their tanks. So Congress banned exporting a product the public can’t use in its original state (crude oil) but not something we could (gasoline).
Second, if the was ban was intended to make us less dependent on foreign oil imports, it didn’t work. While the 1979 and 1981 recessions (with the later being a deep recession) led to a decline in oil imports, by the mid-1980s the economy and oil imports both started surging, peaking in the mid-2000s.
And though consumers used less oil during the recent Great Recession, the primary factor behind the decline in imports since the end of the recession in 2009 is the explosion of oil production. Today, the U.S. is importing roughly the same amount of oil as it did in 1996—only the 1996 import level was part of a sharply rising trend, not a decline as today.
The third reason the ban didn’t make much sense is that it undermined economic efficiency. Crude oil has to be refined before people can use it. But refineries aren’t necessarily in the same place the oil is being extracted—especially today when innovative drilling techniques are opening up oil fields around the country.
And even if they were close, that doesn’t mean the refinery is set up to refine the kind of crude being pumped nearby. The Texas Gulf Coast refineries are very good at refining very heavy crude oil, like that being produced in Canada—hence the drive to build the Keystone XL pipeline to ship it down. In some cases it may make more sense to export crude to another country rather than ship it across the U.S. for refining.
But the biggest reason why the ban makes no sense anymore is strategic. Among the 10 top crude oil exporters are Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia is certainly an ally, but it decides how much oil it will or won’t produce based on its own self-interests.
Russia, Iran and Venezuela use access to energy as a diplomatic bargaining tool. And they use the profits from those sales to foment mischief in the world. Providing our allies and other countries with an alternative source for their energy needs helps undermine that mischief.
Murkowski chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. If she is able to move her legislation out of her committee on a bipartisan vote, it has a good chance of reaching the Senate floor, where most Republicans and several Democrats will likely support it.
The U.S. has become the leading oil producing country, according to the EIA. Ending the export ban creates a global market for U.S. oil that will increase production and stabilize prices. The U.S. once dominated the energy markets, with the right policies it can do so again.
Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation, an independent, nonprofit public policy organization based in Dallas, Texas.
May 20, 2015
ICYMI: Sen. Murkowski has long supported ending the U.S. ban on crude oil exports. Last week as the leader of a bipartisan senate coalition, Murkowski introduced, S. 1312, the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015. Yesterday, Leon Panetta and Stephen Hadley joined the growing chorus of bipartisan support for ending the ban on crude oil exports to strengthen America’s national security and ensure that our allies have a secure supply of energy.
The Oil-Export Ban Harms National Security (WSJ)
By LEON E. PANETTA AndSTEPHEN J. HADLEY
Published: May 19, 2015
The United States faces a startling array of global security threats, demanding national resolve and the resolve of our closest allies in Europe and Asia. Iran’s moves to become a regional hegemon, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and conflicts driven by Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and North Africa are a few of the challenges calling for steadfast commitment to American democratic principles and military readiness. The pathway to achieving U.S. goals also can be economic—as simple as ensuring that allies and friends have access to secure supplies of energy.
Blocking access to these supplies is the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil that was enacted, along with domestic price controls, after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. The price controls ended in 1981 but the export ban lives on, though America is awash in oil.
The U.S. has broken free of its dependence on energy from unstable sources. Only 27% of the petroleum consumed here last year was imported, the lowest level in 30 years. Nearly half of those imports came from Canada and Mexico. But our friends and allies, particularly in Europe, do not enjoy the same degree of independence. The moment has come for the U.S. to deploy its oil and gas in support of its security interests around the world.
Consider Iran. Multilateral sanctions, including a cap on its oil exports, brought Tehran to the negotiating table. Those sanctions would have proved hollow without the surge in domestic U.S. crude oil production that displaced imports. Much of that foreign oil in turn found a home in European countries, which then reduced their imports of Iranian oil to zero.
The prospect of a nuclear agreement with Iran does not permit the U.S. to stand still. Once world economic growth increases the demand for oil, Iran is poised to ramp up its exports rapidly to nations whose reduced Iranian imports were critical to the sanctions’ success, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, India and China. U.S. exports would help those countries diversify their sources and avoid returning to their former level of dependence on Iran.
More critically, if negotiations fail, or if Tehran fails to comply with its commitments, the sanctions should snap back into place, with an even tighter embargo on Iranian oil exports. It will be much harder to insist that other countries limit Iranian imports if the U.S. refuses to sell them its oil.
There are other threats arising from global oil suppliers that the U.S. cannot afford to ignore. Libya is racked by civil war and attacks by the Islamic State. Venezuela’s mismanaged economy is near collapse.
Most ominous is Russia’s energy stranglehold on Europe. Fourteen NATO countries buy 15% or more of their oil from Russia, with several countries in Eastern and Central Europe exceeding 50%. Russia is the sole or predominant source of natural gas for several European countries including Finland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Baltic states. Europe as a whole relies on Russia for more than a quarter of its natural gas.
This situation leaves Europe vulnerable to Kremlin coercion. In January 2009, Russia cut off natural gas to Ukraine, and several European countries completely lost their gas supply. A recent EU “stress test” showed that a prolonged Russian supply disruption would result in several countries losing 60% of their gas supplies.
Further, revenue from sales to Europe provides Russia with considerable financial resources to fund its aggression in Ukraine. That conflict could conceivably spread through Central Europe toward the Baltic states. So far, the trans-Atlantic alliance has held firm, but the trajectory of this conflict is unpredictable. The U.S. can provide friends and allies with a stable alternative to threats of supply disruption. This is a strategic imperative as well as a matter of economic self-interest.
The domestic shale energy boom has supported an estimated 2.1 million U.S. jobs, according to a 2013 IHS study, but the recent downturn in oil prices has led to massive cuts in capital spending for exploration and production. Layoffs in the oil patch have spread outward, notably to the steel industry. Lifting the export ban would put some of these workers back on the job and boost the U.S. economy.
Why, then, does the ban endure? Habit and myth have something to do with it. U.S. energy policy remains rooted in the scarcity mentality that took hold in the 1970s. Even now, public perception has yet to catch up to the reality that America has surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum (exceeding 11 million barrels a day). The U.S. became the largest natural gas producer in 2010, and the federal government will now license exports of liquefied natural gas.
The fear that exporting U.S. oil would cause domestic gasoline prices to rise is misplaced. The U.S. already exports refined petroleum, including 875,000 barrels a day of gasoline in December 2014. The result is that U.S. gasoline prices approximate the world price. Several recent studies, including by the Brookings Institution, Resources for the Future and Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies, demonstrate that crude oil exports would actually put downward pressure on U.S. gasoline prices, as more oil supply hits the global market and lowers global prices.
Too often foreign-policy debates in America focus on issues such as how much military power should be deployed to the Middle East, whether the U.S. should provide arms to the Ukrainians, or what tougher economic sanctions should be imposed on Iran. Ignored is a powerful, nonlethal tool: America’s abundance of oil and natural gas. The U.S. remains the great arsenal of democracy. It should also be the great arsenal of energy.
Mr. Panetta served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (2009-11) and as secretary of defense (2011-13). Mr. Hadley served as national security adviser (2005-09).