Brennan: Good old days are just ahead

By Tom Brennan |

‘Tis the season to give thanks and Alaskans have a lot to be thankful for. Whatever their individual reasons, we as a state seem headed for a time of prosperity and progress.

Low oil prices are problematic, but those tend to be temporary. The major oil and gas companies in Alaska invest for the long term and don’t change their strategies every time the market takes a dip.

Its leaders are saying the Alaska petroleum industry is looking at a renaissance. And that should mean great things for the economy. The state’s prospects are improving and, as we like to say at my house, “the good old days are just ahead.”

Last month. ConocoPhillips began production from its Greater Mooses Tooth 1 drill site and got federal approval to go ahead with Greater Mooses Tooth 2. The company estimates Tooth 1 will produce 30,000 barrels per day and Tooth 2 will add another 40,000 barrels per day to pipeline throughput. And a much bigger project called Willow is in the works; that one could produce an additional 100,000 barrels a day.

All of those projects are in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska which lies west of the big producing fields around Prudhoe Bay. NPR-A finally is beginning to fulfill the promise expected when the reserve was established in 1942. The decision to set it aside was based largely on oil seeps that convinced geologists the area contained petroleum. That potential drew industry’s attention in recent years as it realized that large oil accumulations cover a much larger portion of the North Slope than was once estimated. The petroleum reserve does indeed contain oil, lots of it.

Recent developments should keep the pipeline operating at 500,000 barrels per day and perhaps more. And that means continued billions of royalty and tax dollars flowing into the state treasury and a strong foundation for the economy for years to come. While thousands of jobs were lost in the last downturn, the state hopefully has turned the corner and better days are ahead.

Adding to the optimism of the season is the election of Mike Dunleavy as governor. Dunleavy is a Republican and former state senator — and he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. His first appointments show promise for future decisions. Those include Corri Feige, former director of the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas, to become commissioner of natural resources, and former Governor Sean Parnell to be a primary advisor on the plan put together by outgoing Governor Bill Walker for a gas pipeline and possible gas sales to China and other Asian markets.

Feige has strong credentials for the Natural Resources job and Parnell is well-versed on the gas pipeline project. Parnell was governor from 2010 to 2014 and, during his term, pushed for and got passed a legislative bill to build a gas pipeline from the North Slope to Nikiski.

The major North Slope producers passed on investing in the gas pipeline itself saying it didn’t pencil out for them. So Parnell has to answer the question of why the project pencils out for the state of Alaska if it didn’t for the producers. The companies have said they will sell their gas for shipment in the pipeline and, of course, that will depend on the price they get for it.

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An astute reader points out that the Fourteenth Amendment includes important provisions that need to be retained in the U.S. Constitution. Those provisions are: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Those provisions do need to be retained. I assumed they were covered elsewhere in the Constitution. If not, the Fourteenth Amendment should be retained and amended rather than repealed.

The problem with the Fourteenth Amendment is its guarantee of citizenship to anyone born in the United States even if the child’s parents are illegal aliens. That serves as an incentive for aliens to sneak across the border so their children can be born in this country. The children then become anchor babies and make it difficult for immigration officials to deport their parents.

Making such a change, though it would be very difficult to get through. Congress, would eliminate a genuine flaw in this country’s most important document.

 

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