Representative Craig Johnson Rotating Header Image

Rep. Johnson Encourages Feds to Include Alaska in New Outer Continental Shelf 5 Year Leasing Plan

Resources Chair Encourages MMS, Dept. of Interior Not to Take a “One-Size-Fits-All” Regulatory Approach: Jobs and Alaska’s Economy at Stake

June 28, 2010

Mr. J. F. Bennett, Chief,
Branch of Environmental Assessment
Minerals Management Service
381 Elden Street, MS 4042,
Herndon, Virginia 20170

RE: Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012–2017

Dear Mr. Bennett:

As you know, Alaska has long been a leader in our nation’s efforts to achieve energy self-sufficiency. With our state’s abundant natural resources and vast untapped potential, Alaska can continue to play a vital role in shaping America’s energy future. But that will only occur if federal regulatory policy maintains the proper balance between allowing responsible resource development and ensuring environmental protection.

We are very concerned that the situation unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico associated with the Deepwater Horizon blowout could have undue and catastrophic affects for Alaska’s economy and our future – as well as for the nation as a whole. We strongly encourage the Minerals Management Service (MMS) to carefully consider the potential ramifications of a decision to continue the temporary moratorium on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) exploration and production activity. We do not believe a continuation of the moratorium is prudent or justified with regard to Alaska.

Geologic conditions and production logistics are substantially different on Alaska’s shallow OCS compared to the deep water conditions that exist in the Gulf of Mexico. Responsible OCS exploration and development can and should occur here. A “one size fits all” approach to OCS regulation is no more appropriate than a “one size fits all” approach to offshore drilling. Without a doubt, as decades of experience in Cook Inlet has demonstrated, current technology exists to safely explore Alaska’s vast OCS potential reserves.

It’s estimated that Alaska’s OCS contains 27 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 130 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. To put that in perspective, the oil available from Alaska’s OCS is more than twice the amount that has been produced from Alaska’s North Slope to date (starting in 1977). Undeniably, Alaska contains the lion’s share of remaining U.S. oil and gas reserves.

Moreover, since statehood we have demonstrated that through careful stewardship, natural resource development can occur in an environmentally responsible manner. We have developed a regulatory balance that fosters new economic opportunity and job creation while also protecting the unparalleled diversity and natural beauty of our state. And we do not take the latter lightly, given the importance of tourism to our economy.

While there are many uncertainties in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, there is one given for our nation. For the foreseeable future, U.S. demand for oil and gas will continue to rise. Correspondingly, our nation’s dependence on foreign imports to satisfy that demand will continue to rise – until we take meaningful steps to increase our domestic production; or develop new alternative energy sources.

Alaska can play a key role in satisfying both of those important needs. Alaska’s vast proven reserves of oil and gas – both onshore and on the OCS – can help America achieve a much greater degree of energy self-sufficiency. Our state also has accessible deposits of the rare earth minerals necessary for the development of emerging alternative energy industries. Most importantly, there’s a proven track record that demonstrates the technology already exists for developing Alaska’s resources in an environmentally safe manner.

Given the economic devastation a continuation of the moratorium will cause, with the resulting loss of thousands of jobs and billions in state, local and federal revenues, we request that the MMS and federal government allow responsible access to waters in Alaska’s OCS as part of the initial Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Process for the 2012-2017 Five-Year Leasing Program.

Our country will move forward. The direction it does so is entirely in our collective hands as government officials and holders of a sacred trust – to use our best judgment and make our best efforts to do what is in the best interest of our nation and those we serve. I strongly believe that a careful examination of the dynamics of OCS exploration and development in Alaska will demonstrate that a continued moratorium is not necessary or justified.

Sincerely,

Representative Craig Johnson
Co-Chairman, Alaska State House Resources Committee

Sent via online: http://ocs5yeareis.anl.gov

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn

Dear Friends and Neighbors

With another legislative session now complete, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know about some important issues and legislation we dealt with this year that may affect your family.

As Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee, Vice-Chair of the House Transportation Committee, and a member of the State Affairs and Fisheries Committees — my days were extremely busy . I also served on budget subcommittees for the Departments of Administration, Corrections, Fish & Game and Natural Resources, which provided me the opportunity to impact issues important to our state and district. As always, my primary focus was to find ways to streamline delivery of essential state services, create new jobs, improve our roads and schools — and build Alaska’s future.

I’m pleased to report that significant progress was made on many of those issues. Key energy issues addressed this session included major revisions to Alaska’s oil and gas tax structure, ways to expedite construction of an instate gas line, and passage of new tax credits for oil and gas exploration and development. Significant funding was also provided for development of renewable and alternative energy projects — all of which should help protect and create Alaskan jobs.

I also worked to improve the quality and safety of our neighborhoods, assist and honor our veterans, and fund needed district road and school projects. Many of those topics are discussed in more detail in this newsletter.

I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to contact me this session regarding issues of importance to you. That really helps me when tough decisions are called for. It’s truly an honor to serve as your representative and I look forward to working with you this interim.

Sincerely,

Craig W. Johnson

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn

A Key Priority: Affordable Energy for Alaska’s Future

Legislature Passes Major Energy Package Including “Omnibus Energy Bill”

This session the legislature spent a great deal of time focusing on Alaska’s energy needs — looking for ways to ensure reliable and inexpensive long-term energy supplies . For Southcentral Alaska that’s imperative, because recent projections indicate demand for natural gas will soon outstrip supply, especially during the peak winter months . As Co-Chair of the House Resources Committee, Representative Johnson helped coordinate numerous legislative efforts to address Alaska’s long term energy needs:

HB 280: “The Cook Inlet Recovery Act:” Provides new incentives for increased Cook Inlet exploration; and development of natural gas storage facilities to ensure steady long-term gas supplies and reduce costs to consumers.

HB 369: Created In-State Gasline Development Team tasked with developing All-Alaska Gasline plan by July 2011 and get gas flowing by 2015.

SB 220: Omnibus Energy Bill: “The Alaska Sustainable Energy Act” Multifaceted legislation that creates a new revolving loan program to fund energy efficiency improvements in public and government buildings, schools and universities; provides assistance to low-income families when fuel prices are high; establishes new loans for Alaskan businesses to improve their energy efficiency; funds alternative energy upgrades; promotes energy conservation, energy efficiency, and the use of alternative energy through training and public education; provides grants for testing new energy technologies in Alaska and fosters innovation, investment in new energy industries and new high-tech Alaskan jobs.

SB 243: Geothermal: Provides cohesive regulatory framework to facilitate development of geothermal energy which eventually could provide up to one third of the energy now supplied.

SB 309: New Cook Inlet Exploration Incentives: Establishes tax incentives to encourage new investment in Cook Inlet gas exploration and development.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn

Saving for Alaska’s Future: Legislature Fully Repays Constitutional Budget Reserve

A combination of high oil prices and fiscal restraint allowed the legislature this year to fully repay past loans from the Constitutional Budget Reserve (CBR). “I am very pleased we had the foresight to set aside enough money this year to restore the CBR and preserve it for future years when money may once again be tight,” said Representative Johnson. With this year’s legislative appropriation, the savings fund has been restored to its full $9 billion dollars.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn

Investing in Our Children: Legislature Increases K-12 Funding by $55 Million

In addition to once again forward-funding K-12 education to allow school districts more time to plan ahead, the legislature also increased education formula funding by 5.7% this year. The additional $55 million in K-12 education funding completes a three year legislative plan to significantly increase funding to our schools.

In addition, the FY11 capital budget also includes $400 million for school and university construction projects that will be part of a bond proposal to be decided on by voters on this fall’s ballot. The proposed general obligation bond includes funding for the new UAA Sports Arena and other educational facilities statewide.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • email
  • del.icio.us
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • LinkedIn