Dear Neighbors & Friends,
Things have picked up in the public and among the press regarding the BP sale to Hilcorp. As Co- Chair of Resources Committee I have been studying this closely over the last couple of months since the announcement was made public on August 27th. Initially, I think some Alaskans, if they were around in 1990 for the BP-ARCO merger had an expectation of a robust public process. However, as I learned, that public process was in part because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) identified anti-competitiveness issues that prompted what’s called a consent agreement and that process requires public comment. What is different this time is that if the FTC does not identity anti-competitiveness issues the entire process is private with no public comment period or ability for Alaskans to weigh in. The FTC does not issue an affirmative decision; instead they offer a decision of no objection and a transaction goes forward. At no point does the FTC announce the decision, however, it’s been said publicly now that by the Commissioner of Natural Resources that the FTC did not have any issues. That is why the state reviews are happening now. The feds happen first and then the state regulators. Of interest to many Alaskans is the current docket under consideration by the RCA related to pipeline transfers. This does have a public comment period that has been extended now twice, with an announcement yesterday of an extension to December 13th. Of concern to many individuals, including one of the RCA Commissioners, is the request by Hilcorp to keep their financial information confidential. Alaskans are rightfully concerned about the environmental health and safety record and their preparedness for an accident. To date, they have been fined $395,000 for issues.
The legislature does not have a role in this transfer and will take no votes on the sale. However, I do believe we have a responsibility to get information out to the public so Alaskans can be informed. It’s taken some time, but I am pleased to announce that there will be a joint House and Senate Resources Committee on December 16th at the Anchorage LIO at 2 pm. If you have questions, please feel free to get in touch and I’d be happy to share more about the roles of the different agencies. Below is a summary.
Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice – review for anti-competitiveness issues
Regulatory Commission of Alaska – transfer of common-carrier pipeline – Submit comments here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission – management of wells on North Slope, requires bonding for clean-up
Department of Natural Resources – review and approval of lease transfers, including financial preparedness
Department of Environmental Conservation – spill response and contingency plans
Department of Fish and Game – transfer of habitat and other permits
Department of Law – legal review
A Very Busy Fall – Part 1 of 3
The final special session ended and I headed off to speak at a national conference to share about our work in agriculture. I was excited to share about our successes with legislation to support agriculture and agriculture tourism. Joining me to speak on agriculture policy were Rep. Chuck Isenhart from Iowa and Dawn Thilmany McFadden, Professor and Agribusiness Extension Economist in Ag and Resource Economics at Colorado State University, Fort Collins. The growth in our agriculture industry is a bright spot in our otherwise sluggish economy. I am always looking for ways to learn more about how we can support a growing agriculture industry and this was a perfect opportunity for sharing and learning.
While there I was able to also participate in the Millennial Action Project’s National Convention that aims to bring together younger legislators to find areas of common interest on issues like affordable education and college loans, election security, and more. They claim to be the largest nonpartisan organization of millennial elected officials. I can say there is a difference in this group of elected officials relative to other experiences. Younger legislators are bringing new perspectives and ideas about work-life balance to the conversation. In Alaska, the last election brought in several younger lawmakers. I previously worked with the group to found Alaska’s Future Caucus and I look forward to this opportunity for collaboration and forward thinking policy development.
Anchorage Caucus Meeting on Homelessness
I thank my colleagues and Anchorage Caucus Co-Chairs Zack Fields and Sara Rasmussen for hosting a meeting with local officials to get an update on efforts to reduce homelessness. This was the first meeting we’ve had with legislators and local officials and certainly won’t be the last. Since this meeting collaboration has increased and everyone has a better understanding of what state funds are supporting and where the unmet need is in our community. More recent announcements about private sector investments in housing and health care are also very positive. I am hopeful this greater level of communication and collaboration will continue going forward. In case you haven’t seen the recently released report, Anchored Home, that provides a blueprint for reducing homelessness, here it is.
Presenting to Master’s in Public Health Students
I have been teaching for over twenty years and love the opportunity to work with students of all ages. I was delighted to be invited to present for the Master’s in Public Health Fall Symposium. My presentation was called “Calling all Public Health Superheroes” because our public health officials are truly superheroes working hard all across our state to keep Alaskans healthy. Sometimes these professionals don’t see themselves as political, but my ask was for their participation in policy development because public health professionals are the ones who can help us with our toughest issues like substance abuse, mental illness, and homelessness. I was so impressed by all of the students I met, including Airport Heights neighbor Chelsea (pictured to the right).
Having Fun Around the District
East High Citation Presenation: It was fun to join Rep. Josephson in presenting a citation to the East Hight Tunderbirds State Championship Football Team. These student athletes work so hard to manage school and athletics and it was fun to congratulate them, on behlaf of the legilsature, for their hard work that led to a state championship win! Way to go T-Birds!
Celebrating the Food Forest at Bragaw! Thank you to the Municipality of Anchorage for this great urban food forest. They had activites for the kids and knowledgable staff to answer questions and help gardeners decide what they wanted to do at home. Fun to run into neighbors at these events! If you didn’t make it over there this year, put in on you calendar to check out next year.
Set up Shop Demo Day: It’s been awesome to watch this program grow and develop. We loved getting to meet the new program graduates and learn more about their business plans. This program offers training to successfully start a business and helps with access to financing. To learn more about the program visit their website: https://www.setupshop-ak.com/
Upcoming Community Council Meetings
The Airport Heights Community Council will meet on Thursday, November 21st, 7:00pm. Airport Heights Elementary School, 1510 Alder St.
Until next week,
P.S. Please let us know if you’d like to meet about a neighborhood issue or bill idea.