By Naomi Klouda
The State House on Monday passed a gun measure telling the U.S. President and Congress to keep their hands off Alaska’s gun rights.
The measure proposed by House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, passed 31-5 on Monday after a lengthy and impassioned debate. It exempts guns and ammunition owned by Alaskans from federal gun laws and says the state should arrest any federal agent who tries to enforce certain, future federal gun laws.
Those who opposed the measure say it subjects Alaskans to criminal prosecution if they ignore federal gun laws. Rep. Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, said the measure was unconstitutional, unenforceable, and distracting the Legislature from other important measures, including a rewrite of state oil tax law.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Friday met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other top Japanese officials to discuss opportunities to send Alaska natural gas to his country to meet Japan’s growing energy needs.
This came one day after Murkowski, now the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, shared her “Energy 20/20” blueprint with the Alaska State Legislature, which included a goal of expanded exports.
“Alaska is the ideal source of natural gas for Japan,” Murkowski said. “For Japan, energy security equals national security, and it was clear from our discussions that the prime minister understands the strategic and economic benefits of Alaska’s natural gas resources.”
Currently, a significant percentage of Japan’s energy supplies are imported through the Strait of Hormuz, a 24 mile-wide choke point between Iran and Oman. Shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Alaska would face no such potential obstacles in the North Pacific Ocean.
Rep. Paul Seaton reports the big issue of the week was the oil tax system and the governor’s bill HB72.
“Most surprising was the revelation that the governor’s consultants and our PFC Energy consultants both inflated oil prices at 2.5 percent compounded annually for new development life cycle analysis,” he wrote in his weekly newsletter.
Their tax comparison of a field at a $100 ANS west coast price really means they calculate on an ANS price of about $163 in the 20th year and $185 per barrel in the 25th year. That means all the additional value over $30 is thrown into a calculation of much higher government take by progressivity. Although they recognize inflation is much higher in oil and gas production costs than general inflation, they did not calculate that differential, he said.
“Therefore their analysis will necessarily be that any progressive system will calculate as if progressivity is continually escalating.”
No oil companies have testified that they base investment sanction decisions on oil price inflation at 2.5 percent.
“It also seems to have no basis in looking at the history of natural gas prices. This factor makes it almost useless to try to compare tax regimes at various prices as these consultants’ built-in artificial escalator confuses and overwhelms the calculation,” he wrote.
An Alaska lawmaker has introduced legislation that would make it a felony to interfere or protest with permitted oil and gas, timber or other development projects.
Rep. Eric Feige, R-Chickaloon, named his House Bill 92 the “Lucy Lawless bill,” after the actress who last year boarded a Shell drill ship before it left New Zealand. She and other Greenpeace activists were arrested. Lawless was on the TV series, “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
Feige, co-chair of the House Resources Committee, told the Juneau Empire that Alaska has a good permitting process, where the public can raise any concerns or complaints. He said an increasing tendency from activists is “they seem to want to take the law into their own hands.”
He wants an effort to “get out ahead of some of the big projects that we hope to have down the road,” including Pebble Mine.
The bill would make it third-degree criminal mischief to take actions with the intent to interrupt or interfere with an industrial operation, authorized by a state permit. Industrial operations include “construction, energy, or timber activity and oil, gas, or mineral exploration, development or production.”
Phil Radford, executive director of Greenpeace, said in a statement, that Greenpeace activists “are always proud to have their names associated with the work they do to save the planet from destruction. However, this misguided attempt to protect big industry from scrutiny is a misuse of taxpayer money.”
Sen. Peter Micciche will be in Homer 7 p.m. March 8 at Homer City Council Chambers. Pizza and refreshments will be served.
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