Green Guide

Alaska editorials

Posted August 10

Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

Aug. 9, 2017

Ketchikan Daily News: Every bit counts

Little by little.

Alaska struck it big with oil decades ago and reaped the financial benefits. Oil money made the state and its people rich and built infrastructure in Alaska communities.

In recent years, the price of oil declined sufficiently to result in a state budget deficit currently at about $2.5 billion.

Alaska would like another big strike, but, at the moment, it's more likely that little ones, whether in the oil industry or another one, are what Alaskans can expect.

An example is a bill Gov. Bill Walker signed this week, which is expected to generate between $22 million and $27 million for the state.

Walker had introduced Senate Bill 30 intending to acquire legislative approval for a four-year contract for the state to sell royalty oil to Petro Star Inc.

That means between 8,400 and 10,500 barrels per day, starting in 2018.

"With the decline of oil prices and production, it takes creative, out-of-the box thinking and teamwork to generate revenue," Walker states.

The bill includes a local-hire provision, he adds, meaning he wants Petro Star to hire Alaskans for jobs in connection with the pact between the oil company and the state and allow Alaskans to fully benefit from the natural resources within Alaska's borders.

The agreement with Petro Star isn't worth billions of dollars. But it's worth real money, and money that the state welcomes. It's likely, for the present at least, that the state will be taking advantage of little projects to make up for the big ones that aren't yet realized.

But, little by little, the state will rebuild its economy.

___

Aug. 9, 2017

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Another step toward more oil Monday marked another visible step toward increasing oil exploration and production in Alaska. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management published its call for nominations for the leasing land in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The call for nominations applies to any land not leased or unavailable for lease under the 2013 NPR-A Integrated Activity Plan put into place during the administration of former President Barack Obama. About one-half of the 22.8 million-acre petroleum reserve, in the reserve's southwest and northeast, is off-limits to leasing under the 2013 plan.

The nominations are for land to be recommended for leasing at the next annual NPRA lease sale.

In late May, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, while on his first secretarial visit to Alaska, signed an order calling for a review of the 2013 NPRA management plan and for an updated assessment of the oil and gas potential of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

While in Alaska, Secretary Zinke made it clear the administration of President Donald Trump sees the state as an energy resource that needs to be further tapped.

"The president has tasked me to prepare our country to be energy dominant," he told a gathering of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. "The only path for energy dominance is a path through the state of Alaska."

Whether the only path to that dominance is through Alaska might be debatable, what isn't debatable is that Alaska is and, with the helping hand of the state and federal governments, can continue to be one of the biggest suppliers of the fuel that powers the nation.

The Monday publishing of the order in the Federal Register — the official publication of federal notices — triggered the start of the 30-day period in which anyone can nominate areas of the NPRA for leasing consideration. It's also the period in which people can submit their comments in opposition to potential leasing or expressing concern about a particular area within the oil reserve.

Oil and gas production on the North Slope, including in the NPRA, has proved controversial across the years and most likely will remain so. It's important to remember, however, what the NPRA is: a petroleum reserve. President Warren G. Harding in 1923 ordered the area reserved as a source of oil for the U.S. Navy.

The site is rich in oil.

In January, ConocoPhillips and partner Anadarko Petroleum announced another big NPRA discovery, this one in its Greater Mooses Tooth Unit in the northeast of the reserve. The discovery, named Willow, could produce as many as 100,000 barrels of oil daily beginning in 2023. Conoco also produces oil from its CD-5 pad on Alaska Native-owned land inside the NPRA, with plans to drill several more wells from the pad into the Alpine oil field that underlies the reserve.

The NPRA is there, with its oil waiting to be responsibly extracted.

Secretary Zinke's order that set in motion the call for lease sale nominations on all unleased NPRA land is sure to reignite a battle, however. That's in part because of concerns by environmental groups about the potential impact on Teshekpuk Lake and the wildlife that use it. Teshekpuk Lake is the largest lake in Arctic Alaska, the third largest lake in the state, and might be the largest thermokarst lake on Earth, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In addition to removing nearly half of the NPRA acreage from development, the Obama administration's 2013 NPRA management plan doubled the size of the Teshekpuk Lake Special Area, an area seen as critical habitat for caribou and waterfowl.

Supporters of oil and gas production in the NPRA should expect a fight.

Information about the NPRA lease sale nominations is available online from the BLM at https://on.doi.gov/2un7ocR. On that page, scroll down to "Recent NPR-A Lease Sale Documents" and look for the 2017 lease sale. Lease nominations and comments must be received by the BLM by Sept. 6. Mail them to State Director, BLM-Alaska State Office, 222 W. Seventh Ave., No. 13, Anchorage, AK, 99513.

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