An engaged Alaskan democracy

Tim Bradner: Lots of Oil Remains on North Slope

April 8, 2014, Tim Bradner, Anchorage Daily News

How much oil is left on the North Slope? Will the tank run dry?

We need to know. A third of our state’s economy depends on oil, according to University of Alaska studies. Oil pays for 90 percent of our state budget too.

The short answer to this is no – there’s lots of oil. A more complete answer, though, is that it also depends on the economics.

It’s very unlikely we’ll find any more super-giant deposits like the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River fields. We can find a lot of smaller fields, though.

These will be expensive, and less profitable than big fields, and that’s where the economics come in.

Big donation to legal marijuana campaign

Laurel Andrews, Alaska Dispatch, March 19, 2014

Five months before voters head to the polls on Aug. 19 to decide whether to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana in Alaska, campaign activity has remained relatively subdued. That may soon change, however, as the campaign sponsoring the initiative plans to ramp up its voter outreach efforts with a new infusion of funds.

Contributions to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol [3], the organization sponsoring the initiative, have been trickling in since June 2013. But on March 13, the campaign reported by far its largest contribution to date, a check from the Marijuana Policy Project for $210,000.

The money was a planned contribution from MPP, wrote Taylor Bickford with Strategies 360, spokesperson for the campaign. The funds will be channeled toward an “aggressive campaign” to mobilize voters that will include TV and radio advertisements and direct mailing, Bickford wrote. “This is an important issue that Alaskans support, and the campaign is committed to raising and spending whatever it takes to win in August.”

To date, the campaign has received $246,191.84, largely from MPP. In addition, MPP has spent $147,493.07 on campaign activities and sent one staff member, Chris Rempert, up to Alaska to coordinate volunteer and field activities.

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Tim Bradner: Alaska Struggles to pin down a “sweet spot” on oil Tax

January 27th, 2014 Tim Bradner, Anchorage Daily News

Will we ever settle on what’s a fair share for Alaskans from the extraction of our mineral resources? What does “fair share” mean? And how do we calculate it?

This is the second of my columns in which I attempt to explain the mysteries of our oil tax system.

In August, voters will consider a repeal of last year’s Senate Bill 21, which changed our taxes. Critics called it a “tax giveaway,” but supporters credit it with renewing industry activity on the North Slope.

What will sharpen this debate is that it now appears there may be no giveaway. The state Department of Revenue’s latest estimate for fiscal year 2015, the state budget year starting next July, is that SB 21 is essentially a wash between what the former tax, called ACES, would have brought in and what the new tax law will earn. If oil prices slide a bit more, as the U.S. Energy Information Administration now expects, SB 21 would actually bring in more money than ACES would have.

For the current state budget year, FY 2014, there is a revenue loss of between $250 million and $300 million because of the changeover between ACES and the new law, which occurred Jan. 1.

Tim Bradner: Alaska’s Oil Tax Debate is Volatile, Long-Running

by Tim Bradner – January 12, 2014 – Anchorage Daily News

A new tax on Alaska oil and gas production went into effect on Jan. 1. The new law — known by the shorthand SB 21 (for Senate Bill 21) — remains highly controversial.

Opponents call it a “giveaway” to the oil industry. Supporters say it has already spurred several billions of dollars in new investment, and that will produce oil in the future that wouldn’t have been produced otherwise.

As a result, a ballot proposition to repeal the tax change will come before voters in the August state primary election.

Alaskans have debated oil taxes for decades but the issue never seems to get settled. As a long-time observer of Alaska oil policy, both as a journalist and as a participant (I was an oil company lobbyist in the 1970s and early 1980s), I’ve watched this cycle again and again– like watching the movie “Groundhog Day.”

Alaska’s Major Energy Projects

November 15, 2013 – Alaska Public Media

This week on Addressing Alaskans, listen to a panel discussion hosted by Commonwealth North on five major Alaska energy projects. Panelists Tim Bradner, Mark Foster, Scott Goldsmith and Harry Noah address how the different projects complement or complete with each other, challenges ahead for each, how state deficits and declining revenue impact the projects, and finally how to navigate the future and decide which one is best. All five of the potential projects discussed have received state funding.

Major projects discussed:

  • Alaska South Central LNG Project (North Slope producer-led large-volume gas pipeline)
  • Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline (State-sponsored smaller-volume gas pipeline)
  • Alaska Interior Energy Plan (North Slope to Fairbanks LNG trucking)
  • Susitna-Watana hydroelectric project
  • Cook Inlet gas exploration (State investments and tax credits)

Ex-commissioner calls for Alaska energy mega-projects analysis, and ‘call bluff’ on North Slope gasline

by Alex DeMarban – November 13, 2013 – Alaska Dispatch

With Alaska’s government now in the red but still blowing hundreds of millions of dollars on multiple energy mega-projects, it’s time for a comprehensive analysis of those projects to help Alaska leaders prioritize the public’s money and stop wasting money on pipe dreams.

That was the take-home message from Harry Noah, a former Alaska Department of Natural Resources commissioner under Gov. Wally Hickel, who spoke at a Commonwealth North discussion Wednesday about the blizzard of state-subsidized efforts — including everything from dueling pipeline proposals to a power-producing dam that, if built, would be the second largest in the country.

Nicholas Kristof: Oklahoma shows the way in early education

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF – November 11, 2013 – Anchorage Daily News

TULSA, Okla. — Liberals don’t expect Oklahoma to serve as a model of social policy. But, astonishingly, we can see in this reddest of red states a terrific example of what the United States can achieve in early education.

Every 4-year-old in Oklahoma gets free access to a year of high-quality prekindergarten. Even younger children from disadvantaged homes often get access to full-day, year-round nursery school, and some families get home visits to coach parents on reading and talking more to their children.