Paul Jenkins

Gov. Bill Walker now finds himself at loggerheads with lawmakers correctly cranky about his grandiose expansion plans for the $10 billion Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline. His idea is to have ASAP compete with the $65 billion Alaska LNG Project, even though that could ball up the state’s business relationship with producers, who have spent hundreds of millions getting this far, and scare the bejeebers out of the market, which craves stability. For its part, the House leadership -- to its credit -- stepped up with House Bill 132 in a bid to block him from recklessly, irresponsibly competing with the much larger project now being undertaken by North Slope producers BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil, along with the state of Alaska and TransCanada. (Walker promises a veto.) The producers’ project...Paul Jenkins
So, there you are, Big Oil Inc. plugging away, spending hundreds of millions of dollars doing prep work for a long-awaited $65 billion liquefied natural gas project to monetize vast North Slope reserves. After fits and starts spanning decades, a gas line finally may make economic sense, you are thinking. It would be a nice, long-term addition to your investment portfolio, and promises decades of stable returns. Then -- kablooey! -- the public end of your public-private project partnership goes nuts. Everything had seemed peachy. Your public partner was, well, your partner; not a pal, but a partner. Oh, he had his moments and he worked a side gig, a little gas line thingy of his own, just in case the partnership’s bigger undertaking stalled, but now he is telling you he wants his project...Paul Jenkins
An angry Sen. Lisa Murkowski finally has Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s attention -- and all it took was a not-so-veiled threat to bite a chunk out of Jewell’s department budget. Murkowski has had a snootful of the Obama administration’s myopic energy policies and view of Alaska as a second-class colony with interests subordinate to whatever green whim is très chic at the moment. Like most right-thinking people, she apparently trusts the Obamas and Jewells as most of us trust gas station sushi. That is bad news for Jewell, notoriously tone deaf about all things Alaska, because Murkowski chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which oversees Interior’s budget. Her angst about Jewell’s continuing disconnect with Alaska surfaced in, of all places, wind-blown Kotzebue at...Paul Jenkins
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Note to self: Buy more stock in the Outhouse Rat Tin Foil Hat Co. because the wackadoodles will be breaking out of Bonkersville in short order. Lawmakers, it turns out, are thinking about exempting Alaska from daylight saving time. They might as well be deciding whether to eat puppies. The state Senate State Affairs Committee is advancing Eagle River Republican Sen. Anna MacKinnon’s entirely sensible measure that would exempt Alaska from the annual pain in the patoot time-switch beginning in 2017 -- leaving Alaska five hours behind the East Coast, instead of four, from about March to November. She will have her hands full. She will hear from industries dependent on schedules and daylight and the vagaries and rigidities of faraway markets -- and she will hear from...Paul Jenkins
What is it with liberals and the Koch brothers? Our “progressive” friends must spend an inordinate amount of time peeking beneath their beds each night to ensure those ol’ boogeymen are not hiding there. If you believe the left -- and, really, who does? -- the libertarian businessmen and philanthropists are devils incarnate. It has become tres chic in distribute-the-wealth circles to excoriate the brothers willy-nilly -- their supposed political sins conjured from thin air by the sorry likes of failed Democratic pooh-bah Harry Reid -- as if leftist billionaires Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and their fat cat pals somehow do not exist. Nonpartisan , by the way, lists Steyer, with $74 million in donations, and Bloomberg, with a paltry $24 million, as the nation...Paul Jenkins
Alaska finds itself in the unenviable position of being a political pawn -- environmental sop, actually -- in a Barack Obama hustle that could devastate the state and deprive the nation of an inestimable energy bounty. Because of Obama’s glaring disconnect with Alaska, it is no matter to him the state is poised at the edge of a steep fiscal cliff, no matter oil production is stagnant or that prices have plummeted. It is no matter Alaska depends on oil for 90 percent of its revenues, that half the state’s economy and a third of its jobs depend on oil, no matter it is facing a $3.5 billion deficit. What matters to this guy is Democratic political fortunes in 2016, even if that means throwing Alaska under the bus. In a plan that even the Washington Post calls “politically fraught,” our...Paul Jenkins
If it looks like a fiscal crisis, walks like a fiscal crisis, quacks like a fiscal crisis, is it really a fiscal crisis? Or is it a downturn? Or a glitch? How about a fiscal situation? A bump in the road? Or is it any of those? In Alaska, it depends on who is doing the looking -- and sometimes, when they are looking. The facts are clear: A proposed Alaska budget of about $5.7 billion combined with projected revenues of $2.2 billion -- and dropping like Bill Clinton’s pants -- equals a projected deficit of somewhere between $3.5 billion and $4 billion. The state gets 90 percent of its revenues from oil -- stable at about $110 a barrel from 2010 until the middle of last year -- and the commodity has lost half its value over the past six months. The Saudis and their pals in the Organization...Paul Jenkins
Newly elected Gov. Bill Walker and his attorney general and former law partner, Craig Richards, find themselves neck-deep in a messy, complicated ethics dilemma as they try to break new ground in the halls of power. Walker and Richards in 2012 filed a public interest lawsuit challenging the state’s hard-won settlement with ExxonMobil for development of the long-delayed and problematic Point Thomson oil and gas field so pivotal in Alaska’s dream of marketing its vast North Slope gas reserves. In an opinion piece later, Walker called the settlement the "worst, dirtiest backroom deal in state history." He and Richards also were party to a half-dozen or so other matters related to oil and gas property taxes or rate proceedings, mostly involving Valdez, that were unresolved before Walker’s...Paul Jenkins
The headline was straightforward enough: “ Lt. Gov. Mallott to assess governor's, attorney general's legal conflicts .” Fusion Gov. Bill Walker, it turns out, has handed his subordinate, Byron Mallott, final say on whether Walker and his attorney general and former law partner, Craig Richards, can join in at least a half-dozen legal proceedings they were involved in as private lawyers, cases that possibly could pose a conflict of interest for the state. The story included a lot of yada-yada about this and that, including Richards’ assurances that such a delegation of authority is a “normal course of business.” That is lawyerese for “nothing to see here; just move along.” All of this, by the way, could be on the up and up, although having Mallott, Walker’s running mate and pal, decide his...Paul Jenkins
Media organizations cobble together 'Top 10" lists this time of year because news of any consequence is, well, exceedingly rare -- and space and time must be filled. My list -- “Big screw-ups” -- is short. It contains only one item: Anchorage Ordinance 2013-37, the Responsible Labor Act. The way AO-37 was rammed through the Assembly was a monumental mistake. The city missed an opportunity to modernize its complicated, antiquated labor law -- last amended in 1989. Much worse, it changed dramatically the political landscape in unimaginable ways. It is fair to say the fight over AO-37 led to Sean Parnell losing the governor’s seat to Bill Walker. The city’s nine unions complained the effort spearheaded by Mayor Dan Sullivan was jammed down their throats. It was a “flawed” process, they...Paul Jenkins