EDITORIAL: Flint Hills needs full attention

Anyone who thought the announcement that Flint Hills was going to cease production at its North Pole refinery was just a ploy got a smack of reality on May 1. That’s when, just past midnight, production of gasoline ended.

It was step one in the shutdown process, which was announced in February. The refinery’s crude production unit will shut down next, no later than June 1 and ending production of jet fuel and other refined products.

About 80 jobs are expected to be lost as a result.

EDITORIAL: The true Obamacare numbers reveal a failure

On the afternoon of April 1, President Barack Obama pulled out the pom-poms and assumed the role of cheer captain at the White House Rose Garden to celebrate the great Obamacare victory. The Affordable Care Act had reached its purported goal of 7 million sign-ups, and by the March 31 deadline, no less.

Not 7 million paid consumers. Not 7 million who were previously uninsured, which we were told was the primary objective of the law. Just 7 million people who at least chose a plan via healthcare.gov or the state exchanges.

EDITORIAL: Proof that production isn't a priority for Obama

More evidence came out April 18 that President Obama and his administration aren’t big fans of oil and natural gas development.

It came in the form of an indefinite delay in a decision from the State Department regarding approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would allow oil from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada, to be delivered to Gulf Coast ports and would create numerous jobs in the U.S.

EDITORIAL: FAA needs to expedite rules for unmanned aircraft

When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos dazzled “60 Minutes” interviewer Charlie Rose a while back with his supposed plan to deliver products with drone aircraft, he glossed over the obstacles that stand in his way.

“There’s no reason they can’t be used as delivery vehicles,” he said at the time. Then he acknowledged that it won’t happen before 2015 because that’s the earliest the Federal Aviation Administration will set the rules. And that, he added, may be a little optimistic.

EDITORIAL: Resolution of damages necessary 25 years after Valdez

March 24 marked the 25th anniversary of the soiling of Alaska shores and waters by the oil of the Exxon Valdez.

The environmental disaster — those words fall so short of describing the carnage — recast how the nation looked at the transport of oil. Suddenly it was something to be concerned about.

Today we are still looking at how that oil, on that day 25 years ago, was being transported recklessly by a captain in a vessel type that was shown to be less than secure and without proper escort on a potentially risky route.

FISH FACTOR: Record 2013 salmon return was 36 percent hatchery fish

Alaska’s salmon catch of 273 million salmon set a record last year — and so did the number of salmon returning home to state hatcheries.

The 2013 Fisheries Enhancement Report by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game shows that a return of 112 million hatchery-reared salmon contributed to 36 percent of the state’s total salmon harvest.

The breakdown by species was 63 percent for chum salmon, 38 percent for pinks, 23 percent for chinook salmon, 22 percent for cohos and 5 percent of Alaska’s sockeye salmon catch can be credited to hatchery returns.

EDITORIAL: Lawsuit over denied ANWR plan is the right move

Gov. Sean Parnell has taken the next step in the long-running, slow-moving effort to tap the energy resources of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, an area that Congress decades ago recognized as having high oil and gas potential.

FISH FACTOR: Researchers looking for other uses for pollock products

Co-products is the big new buzz word in the seafood industry as more companies move toward “head to tails” usages for fish.

EDITORIAL: EPA goes too far on Pebble mine

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy on Feb. 28 did what supporters of the proposed Pebble mine feared she would do: initiate a review process that could preemptively prevent the mine project from proceeding.

The action isn’t just one that the mine project’s supporters feared, however. It’s also an action that riles those who believe a project should at least be presented in full through a permit request before running the risk of being squashed by the government.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Dems hooked on OPM — Other People's Money

Democrats, whether at the state or national level, have a problem: they are addicted to OPM, otherwise known as Other People’s Money.

Whether it is whining about private organizations and individuals who choose to spend their money engaging in the political process, or attempting to use the force of the government to extract punitive taxes from industries they don’t like while pouring subsidies into those they do, Democrats have appointed themselves as the ultimate arbiters of the best ways to spend OPM.

EDITORIAL: Mayors make a good case for a seat in property tax talks

Property taxes are the underpinning of the operation of the Fairbanks North Star Borough and other local governments. Therefore, anything that could have a detrimental impact on that revenue will most likely catch the attention of elected officials.

And that’s precisely what has happened with regard to the natural gas pipeline agreement reached among the state, the major oil companies operating on the North Slope, and pipeline builder TransCanada.

EDITORIAL: Raising minimum wage not the way to American Dream

Everyone wants to make more money. It’s the reason why millions of people decide to invest their time, money and energy in higher education and specialized training.

Nobody wants to be at the bottom of the pay scale, and one could argue that minimum wage in and of itself is motivation for U.S. workers to aim higher and strive to achieve more than the earning $7.25 per hour ($7.75 in Alaska).

EDITORIAL: AGIA is buried, but the pipeline dream lives on

The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act is dead, six years, 10 months and 14 days after the publication of this column by then-Gov. Sarah Palin, who put forward the act three months after taking office:

“We are confident that the AGIA will induce a project. We have done the homework, we have done the legwork, and now we are ready to roll up our sleeves and work with the Legislature to get this process moving.”

AGIA didn’t work.

FISH FACTOR: Alaskans give Walmart full-court press on sustainable salmon

Walmart reps were in Juneau last week to learn more about Alaska’s salmon fisheries, and to make sure management is up to snuff with the company’s sustainability criteria.

Alaska’s salmon industry opted out of the high-priced certifying program that Walmart uses as its seafood purchasing standard, the London-based Marine Stewardship Council. Alaska instead adopted the UN-sanctioned Responsible Fisheries Management, or RFM, program for “well managed” certification, a label that has become practically a requirement in most seafood buying and selling today.

The Bookworm Sez: Reset your attitude on the job hunt

You haven’t had to hit the alarm for quite a few months now.

You haven’t had a whole lot of reason to look presentable, either; sweats and Ts are just fine. You’re not even sure your office attire fits anymore.

Retired? You wish it were that simple. No, you’ve been downsized, laid off, fired, let go, and it’s starting to wear on you. But after you’ve read “Reset: How to Beat the Job-Loss Blues and Get Ready for Your Next Act” by Dwain Schenck, you might be inspired to hit the streets again.

Dwain Schenck was part of an inherited staff.

FISH FACTOR: Strong crab catches, prices seen in Southeast, Bering Sea

Salmon will always be the heart of Alaska’s fisheries. That’s why many people think of summer as “the fishing season.” But that’s not the case.

The deep of winter is when Alaska’s largest fisheries get underway each year. On Jan. 1, hundreds of boats with hook and line gear or big pots will begin plying the waters of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska for Pacific cod, rockfish and other groundfish. Then on Jan. 20, trawlers take to the seas to target Alaska pollock, the world’s largest food fishery with harvests near 3 billion pounds.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Alaska added jobs in 2013, growth will continue in 2014

The Parnell administration remains committed to growing opportunity for Alaskans. As we look ahead to 2014, our economists forecast Alaska adding 1,500 jobs to 2,400 new private sector jobs, diminished some by a decline of 900 government jobs.

Alaska added more than 1,500 jobs through the first half of 2013, and Alaska is one of just a handful of states that has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recent recession. Alaska’s unemployment rate has been below the national rate for a record 61 consecutive months as of November.

FISH FACTOR: Reviewing 2013, annual Alaska fisheries 'Picks and Pans'

Alaska’s seafood industry worked hard again in 2013 to ramp up its message to policy makers, most of whom still tend to overlook the industry’s economic significance to the state and beyond. What is that message?

That “the industry” is made up of thousands of small businesses — the fishing boats that each supports one or several families.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Jewell delivers lump of coal to King Cove

The Dec. 23 announcement from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to uphold the denial of a road between King Cove and Cold Bay couldn’t be less surprising.

The road, as you probably know, would pass through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and provide King Cove residents with emergency land access to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Budget reflects Dems' worst nightmare: reality

State Democrats should be thanking Gov. Sean Parnell after he released his proposal for the fiscal year 2015 budget.

If they didn’t have Senate Bill 21 to kick around as a convenient cover for falling oil prices and production, they might have to explain why Alaska is not only nearing a financial day of reckoning under the tax regime known as ACES they hold near and dear, but why they didn’t do anything about it.


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