Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:
June 4, 2013
Ketchikan Daily News: Bring it on
Bring it on
Whatever one's position on the state's oil-tax legislation, BP Alaska's Sunday announcement that it will bring two new drill rigs to the North Slope by 2016 is welcome indeed.
The Associated Press reports the move is part of a $1 billion additional investment over five years in response to the state's oil production tax rollback.
Drilling for oil is cheerful news on its own in a state that knows how it needs to be done, within a country that needs to get serious about its domestic oil supply. But along with that obvious benefit to the country, the drilling will come with 200 jobs. BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon are eyeing another $3 billion in projects at the west end of Prudhoe Bay, as well.
The first of the new rigs is set to arrive in 2015 and the second, the following year. According to AP, it's not yet clear how many new wells will be drilled. But the oil giant says BP plans to do more work, starting this fall, to make production more efficient.
It's too early to tell, they say, how much new production might result; we can't know the future economics at this point.
What we do know is that any time an extra billion bucks is invested in Alaska, that's a good thing.
June 3, 2013
Peninsula Clarion: Fishery research a crucial investment
Gov. Sean Parnell visited the Kenai Peninsula this past week, and, as is almost inevitable in this neck of the woods, the discussion turned toward salmon fishery management.
At issue on the Peninsula are weak returns of chinook salmon, including our world-famous Kenai River kings. Concerns extend well beyond the in-river sport fisheries, because conservation measures taken to maximize king salmon escapement include restrictions on most of the rest of Cook Inlet's sport, personal-use and commercial salmon fisheries.
Last year's weak king return kept Cook Inlet setnets out of the water, despite a healthy return of sockeye salmon. This year, chinook sport fisheries have opened with numerous restrictions, and other user groups are bracing for additional impacts to their fisheries.
Declining chinook salmon returns are not unique to the Peninsula, though, and the governor included $10 million in this year's budget toward a $30 million, 5-year Chinook Salmon Research Initiative.
While $10 million is a lot of money, when you consider the scope of the issue, and the potential economic impacts of closing fisheries, not only is research funding a prudent investment, the proposed budget is arguably not enough.
Right now, everyone's got a theory about what's happening to the chinook salmon — and theories encompass everything from excessive trawler by-catch to in-river overexploitation to Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Fishery management has always been part science, part art, with managers making decisions based on available data, past experience and, to an extent, educated guesses. All that is done within the confines of management plans that, more and more, are driven as much by user group politics as they are by fishery biology.
Scientists met last fall for a salmon symposium to identify gaps in the fishery science. Filling in the gaps is crucial to making the best-informed decisions possible about future fishery management, not just for Cook Inlet, but for the entire state.
Conducting research costs money, though. And if we as Alaskans want to continue to tout our fisheries as some of the most sustainable and well-managed in the world, we need to be willing to pay for it.