Posted Wednesday, May 04, 2016 - 8:08 pm
Sometimes a dead horse really does need another beating.
On May 4, we received a fresh reminder of the federal government’s rank and callous hypocrisy regarding the emergency access road from King Cove to Cold Bay.
Earlier in the week, we were treated to more of the rudderless Legislature’s trademark blend of incompetence and dysfunction that goes together like a jar of Goober Grape.
Posted Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 10:52 am
ConocoPhillips posted a loss of $1.47 billion in the first quarter of 2016, including a $2 million net loss from its Alaska operations.
The state’s largest oil producer increased its output year-over-year by 4.3 percent, from 163,000 barrels per day in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 170,000 in 2016.
It also spent $320 million in capital expenditures in Alaska, down from the $402 million spent in the same period of 2015, which reflects the work done throughout last year to bring the CD-5 site into production last October.
Posted Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 4:16 pm
Gov. Bill Walker has a funny way of showing that he’s looking everywhere for solutions to the state’s current $4.1 billion deficit.
In addition to reducing the Permanent Fund Dividend by redirecting earnings into paying for state government, he’s proposed raising taxes on oil and gas, fishing, mining, tourism, alcohol, cigarettes, fuel, and personal income.
He made a big show in January of claims he’s instituted a hiring freeze and restricted employee travel, although he couldn’t provide any estimate of how much money it would save.
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 3:18 pm
As legislators attempt to cram their final week with major changes to how the state pays oil credits and uses its Permanent Fund earnings while filling the budget deficit with savings accounts, they may be tempted to go home to seek reelection feeling like they did their jobs.
Public polling conducted by Dittman Research for the Alaska Chamber in the last week of March suggests they won’t face a lot of citizens who’d agree.
Posted Monday, April 04, 2016 - 12:57 pm
A long-awaited and expected announcement came Monday by the U.S. Air Force that two squadrons of F-35 fighters will be deployed to Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.
A total of 54 new aircraft and an estimated 2,765 personnel will be part of the deployment, with construction to begin in fiscal year 2017, which begins Oct. 1.
The two squadrons of F-35s will join the F-16 Aggressor squadron and the 168th Air Refueling Wing currently assigned to Eielson. The first jets are scheduled to arrive in 2020.
Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 2:24 pm
With operating budgets passed in the House and Senate but not yet funded, at least one thing is now clear: Gov. Bill Walker’s proposals to raise taxes on individuals and businesses by nearly $460 million in the next fiscal year aren’t going anywhere.
Senate Finance Co-Chair Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, couldn’t have been more blunt — or, frankly, rude — in response to a question about how the Legislature plans to pay for the fiscal year 2017 spending that figures to outpace revenue by $3.7 billion.
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 4:29 pm
It was the Seinfeld of press conferences.
One might think that a gathering of the five most influential figures in the massive Alaska LNG Project would have had more news to share, but in the end it was a press conference about nothing.
And that’s bad news for everyone involved.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the state’s project partners whose taxes he’s proposing to raise dramatically at a time when their costs are nearly double the price per barrel, Gov. Bill Walker had no answers for where AK LNG is headed.
Posted Wednesday, February 03, 2016 - 2:53 pm
Moda Health went all in on Obamacare, and it is now short-stacked and heading for the rail.
On Jan. 29, the Alaska Division of Insurance followed suit of its counterpart in Oregon by suspending Moda from operating in the state due to its rapidly deteriorating financial condition caused by massive losses incurred operating in the health insurance exchanges created by the ill-named Affordable Care Act commonly known as Obamacare.
Moda’s suspension leaves Alaska with only Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield offering individual health insurance policies.
Posted Wednesday, January 20, 2016 - 1:49 pm
Since oil first started gushing through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System nearly 40 years ago, the Alaska has repeatedly failed to learn the lessons from the troughs in the price cycle.
Now facing a yawning budget gap nearing $4 billion annually with crude collapsing to less than $27 per barrel as of Jan. 20, there is near-unanimous support to shift from oil income to tapping the investment earnings from the Permanent Fund to bridge the gap.
Posted Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - 1:58 pm
Bob Penney is now 0 for 2 at the Alaska Supreme Court in his efforts to reallocate Cook Inlet salmon stocks at the ballot box, but he’s not giving up the fight against commercial fishermen.
It’s past time that he did after some three decades of dividing the community with his nonstop efforts to drive his neighbors out of business and turn the Kenai River into his personal playpen.
Posted Tuesday, December 29, 2015 - 3:46 pm
With just a couple weeks to go until the next legislative session begins, Alaska’s elected officials have a hefty to-do list.
In no particular order, here it is:
• Restructuring the Permanent Fund earnings in order to use a portion to pay for state government, and possibly reducing the annual citizens’ dividend.
• Considering whether to raise or institute new taxes.
• Cutting spending.
Posted Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - 1:01 pm
Legislators were rightly concerned when Gov. Bill Walker, without warning, vetoed $200 million in appropriations from the current fiscal year budget designated for the oil and gas tax credit program.
Walker noted at the time — and his Revenue Commissioner Randall Hoffbeck had to spend a lot of time in the aftermath reiterating to the financial community — that the State of Alaska was not reneging on its obligation to pay the credits.
Posted Wednesday, December 02, 2015 - 2:23 pm
Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Nov. 25 committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.
Posted Wednesday, December 02, 2015 - 2:17 pm
When the Legislature finally adjourned after a second special session to pass a budget this past spring, about 20 percent of the approximately $3.5 billion deficit was related to payments from the state’s oil and gas tax credit program.
Unlike deductions, which the large producers use on a per-barrel basis to reduce their tax liabilities, the credits are direct payments from the state to mostly independent companies exploring for oil and gas in Cook Inlet and the North Slope.
Posted Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 3:24 pm
This story has been updated with clarification and a comment from Seabridge Gold Inc. Vice President of Environmental Affairs R. Brent Murphy.
Gov. Bill Walker and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark signed a Memorandum of Understanding Wednesday morning committing to cooperation on transboundary issues, particularly related to concerns in Southeast over mines on the Canadian side of the border.
Posted Friday, November 20, 2015 - 3:52 pm
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, who replaced two members of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board of directors shortly after taking office this past January, has shaken up the board again by dismissing board Chair John Burns and swapping one of his cabinet appointments.
Walker replaced Burns with former Fairbanks Mayor Luke Hopkins, who served on the board of directors of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority, which Walker led and represented as general counsel since its creation in 1999.