Movers and Shakers for Feb. 17

Tony Drabek was appointed to the Koniag Inc. board of directors. Drabek was the president and CEO of Natives of Kodiak for more than a quarter century and helped start Northrim Bank, serving on its board for more than two decades. He also served in the United States Army for four years, including one tour in Vietnam and one in Korea. Drabek fills the seat of long time board member Brent Parsons, who passed away unexpectedly in November of last year. Enterprising Women magazine has named Anchorage business owner Kristen Fowler Lindsey a winner of its 2019 Enterprising Women of the Year Awards. Now in its 17th year, the award is considered one of the most prestigious recognition programs for women business owners. Fowler Lindsey, an industry veteran with nearly 25 years of technology marketing experience, is president and owner of Thrively Digital, Alaska’s oldest and largest interactive digital agency. Other award recipients include women from the United States, Canada, India, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Turkey, Germany and Switzerland. Fowler Lindsey is the only honoree from Alaska. Thrively provides comprehensive, integrated digital marketing services to businesses in the tourism industry, as well as in the non-profit, healthcare, transportation, education, government, telecom, publishing and retail sectors. In 2015 Fowler Lindsey completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, which is designed to train entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and fuel their local economies. She began Thrively Digital in 2003 and has grown it into a 10-person agency that’s served more than 100 clients in Alaska and the Lower 48. She’s a community member of the Alaska Public Media Board Development Committee and a member of the Anchorage Downtown Rotary Club. She’s a former board chair of the Anchorage Concert Association; she also has been involved with the American Marketing Association and the Alaska Travel Industry Association. Tomas Boutin was appointed executive director of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. Boutin comes to this position after a distinguished career in forestry, including four years of service as Alaska State Forester. He is also a former deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue. The AIDEA board of directors also appointed former Executive Director John Springsteen to the position of chief operating officer. Springsteen has been tapped to bring AIDEA’s financing expertise to Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s newly created Industry Development Task Force. Springsteen has served as AIDEA’s executive director since March 2015, and will represent AIDEA on the Task Force while working out of Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development offices in Anchorage. Boutin received his undergraduate degree in Forest Resources from the University of New Hampshire, and holds an MBA from the University of Oregon School of Business. Springsteen received his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Boutin and Springsteen began their new duties on Feb. 11. Credit Union 1 promoted Chris Harris to accounting manager. Harris was initially hired by the credit union in 2010 and brought previous experience as a personal banker with Bank of America to his position at Credit Union 1. With Bank of America, Harris was recognized amid the top 5 percent of personal bankers in the Midwest region. Harris graduated with honors from the University of Hawaii. In his new position, Harris will be responsible for the daily operations of Credit Union 1’s Finance Department. CU1 also promoted Brian Ellis to the position of controller. Ellis was initially hired by the credit union in 2013 as a financial analyst. He was promoted to senior financial analyst in 2016, which is the position he held prior to his promotion to controller. Previously, Ellis worked as an audit associate for KPMG LLP in Anchorage, and he holds an active CPA license from the State of Alaska. He graduated from Idaho State University with a BBA in accounting and has also completed his general MBA. In his new position, Ellis will be responsible for supervising the maintenance of the general ledger, preparation of financial statements with variance narratives, managing the financial and 401(k) audits, assisting the CFO with budget and three-year forecast preparation, and keeping informed of changes and developments in GAAP and regulations that affect the credit union’s accounting, reporting and operations.

Alaska LNG still on schedule for February EIS draft

The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. has added to the list of information it will not submit to federal regulators until this summer, but there has been no indication that the absence of the mostly technical engineering data will delay the scheduled February release of the draft federal environmental impact statement for the proposed Alaska LNG project. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not publicly amended its schedule for the project’s draft EIS, though it has not designated a specific date in February. However, as of Feb. 11, a federal website that tracks pending regulatory work shows Feb. 28 as the “current target date” for the Alaska LNG draft. The tracking website, named FAST-41 for Section 41 of the 2015 law that created the multi-agency effort, is not legally binding on agencies. Federal regulators have been working to prepare the draft EIS since the state in April 2017 submitted its application for the project to move North Slope gas down an 807-mile pipeline to a liquefaction plant and export terminal in Nikiski, on the eastern shore of Cook Inlet. The state-led project team on Feb. 4 responded to FERC’s most recent request, answering a Jan. 15 letter for further detailed information on fire safety, spill containment safeguards and hazard mitigation designs at the North Slope gas treatment plant, the liquefaction plant and liquefied natural gas storage tanks in Nikiski. Addressing the remaining 81 requests for information, AGDC said it would provide the answers in four batches, starting in April and running to July 26. That information is in addition to 76 technical engineering data requests FERC raised in December, which the state team said it will answer in March, May and June. Those requests cover specific engineering, safety and emergency system designs at the gas treatment plant and LNG plant. AGDC will need to complete all the work with a diminishing pot of money. The corporation had expected to end the state fiscal year on June 30 with $15 million to carry it through the entire EIS process — FERC is scheduled to issue its final EIS in November — but Alaska’s budget director said in January the governor wants to take back $5 million from AGDC to help balance state spending. The corporation was expecting to spend an average $3.6 million per month during the first six months of 2019, drawing down its account balance to $15 million by June 30 to carry it through to the end of the calendar year. Spending likely will slow down, however, as the corporation fulfills FERC’s information requests. Among the answers and data AGDC has said it will provide to FERC by March 1: • More information about where the pipeline crosses active earthquake faults, including the hazards and estimated vertical and horizontal offsets of active faults. • A more detailed route map of the 62-mile pipeline from the Point Thomson field to Prudhoe Bay and the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay to Nikiski, showing all seismic hazards within 5 miles of the pipeline and “areas requiring special treatment of permafrost” within a quarter-mile. An example of the technical nature of FERC’s questions is the request for additional information on the design of the piping on top of the LNG storage tanks in Nikiski and surrounding impoundment area for any tank spills, and more details on piping diagrams at the gas treatment plant at Prudhoe Bay. AGDC said it would submit those drawings in late June. AGDC also owes federal regulators more information about the project’s 27-mile underwater pipeline crossing of Cook Inlet. AGDC on Dec. 7 told FERC it would need until September to fully respond to more than a dozen of the questions about the Cook Inlet crossing, including: • Will tidal flow and other currents move debris and boulders across the pipeline? And how much movement is expected, particularly during tidal currents? • Does AGDC plan to use any additional weights or supports along the pipeline after construction to stabilize the line against tidal currents? • Will concrete mats be used to protect the pipeline after it is set on the seafloor? • Is there any site-specific geotechnical data to confirm that the bottom soil is firm enough so that the weighted 42-inch-diameter pipe “will not continue to sink,” placing high-strain loads on the pipe welds during construction and operations? The state project team proposes to bury the pipe near shore as it enters the water on the west side of Cook Inlet near Beluga, lay the concrete-coated pipe on the seafloor across the inlet, then bury it as it reaches shore on the east side for the last 14 pipeline miles to the LNG plant. It’s not unusual for FERC to continue asking for information as it works through its review — particularly engineering design questions about an LNG plant. Regulators can add information between the draft and final EIS. After North Slope oil and gas producers ExxonMobil, BP and ConocoPhillips pulled out of the project in late 2016, citing market conditions, the state has covered 100 percent of the development costs, including regulatory approval at FERC. A legislative audit presented to lawmakers in January showed that since AGDC was established in 2010, the Legislature has appropriated $480 million for the corporation’s work on the Alaska LNG export project and the in-state-distribution-only Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline, a $10 billion project its supporters have promoted as a backup if the larger development fails to go ahead. The in-state line is closer to completing the regulatory process than the LNG project but it, too, lacks any state funding to proceed past permitting. Larry Persily is a former Alaska journalist, state and federal official who has long tracked oil and gas markets and projects worldwide.

IPHC to investigate ‘chalky’ halibut among research plans

After years of hearing concerns from fishermen about the prevalence of “chalky” Pacific halibut, the International Pacific Halibut Commission is planning to gather information for an investigation into it. Chalky halibut are fish that, when cut open, have a stiff, chalk-textured flesh as opposed to the normal pale and tender flesh. Chalky meat is not dangerous to humans but is not desirable and thus costs the fishermen at the dock. Dr. Josep Planas, who heads up biological research for the IPHC, noted plans to gather information about chalky halibut from stakeholders this year before moving forward with designing a study on it. “What we plan is to initiate this project by collecting information from stakeholders on the incidence of chalky flesh and trying to understand the conditions that lead to its development,” he said. “We would love to get any information from any stakeholders on this topic.” Chalky halibut is not a new phenomenon; fishermen and researchers have been seeing it for decades. IPHC research from the 1960s and 1990s connect the prevalence of chalky flesh with the buildup of lactic acid in the fish and lowered pH in the fish after death. Researchers have associated it with warmer ocean temperatures near the bottom, according to the IPHC. When the bottom temperatures reach 12 to 14 degrees Celsius, they tap at the upper thermal limits of Pacific halibut distribution, according to the IPHC. “The condition is reversible in live fish,” according to the IPHC’s website. “Flesh which might otherwise turn chalky does not develop the condition post-mortem if the fish are allowed a 1-2 day resting period after capture, and before killing.” The project is one of a host of research projects the IPHC is planning for the next two years. Those projects focus on topics including migration, growth patterns, reproduction, genetics and discard mortality, Planas said. He said the migration study, which incorporates a number of different methods for tracking fish through their migration patterns, will likely produce some results on larva distribution in 2019. The study on reproduction, which aims to craft a more detailed picture of the full Pacific halibut lifecycle, will likely produce results in early 2020. Researchers are also taking advantage of a new tool on many commercial fishing vessels: electronic monitoring. Some fishing vessels, to save the aggravation and expense of having a human observer on their boats, are opting to install cameras and other electronic systems to monitor their harvests and bycatch. After the first year, the National Marine Fisheries Service reported implementation and compliance went smoothly, with plans to enroll 165 vessels for 2019. The researchers are taking advantage of the presence of electronic monitoring devices onboard to test out different methods of tagging and tracking fish, Planas said. The IPHC is working on a study on discard-related mortality, and specifically how handling and release methods affect halibut injury and outcomes. On vessels with electronic monitoring, the researchers were able to closely track release methods and verified that the data was good. “What we can say so far is when you compare the electronic monitoring-determined release method to the actual, the correlation is incredibly high,” he said. “Sometimes 100 percent, but close to 97 to 95 percent. EM captures very well the release method.” The researchers are working on results to determine how release methods impact the fish’s condition upon release and thus survival. Planas said the study includes both the commercial and recreational sector and results may be incorporated into stock assessments as soon as late 2019 and 2020. The purpose of the research program is to fill in gaps about knowledge of Pacific halibut stocks and life history, he said. In the future, the IPHC is planning to work with other researchers for studies on whale detection techniques and possibly using LEDs on trawls to trigger flight responses in Pacific halibut, thus helping to reduce trawl bycatch, Planas said. ^ Elizabeth Earl can be reached at [email protected]

Report touts benefits of Medicaid expansion; legislative lawyers conclude no rollback without statutory change

Repealing Medicaid expansion would pull more than a half-billion dollars out of Alaska’s economy and likely extend what is already the longest recession in the history of the state, according to an analysis commissioned by one of the state’s leading health care groups. The report for the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association concludes that repealing Medicaid services for the expanded class of eligible recipients from Alaska’s Medicaid program would have a negative economic impact of $556 million. In turn, Alaska would lose 3,690 jobs, according to the report done by Halcyon Consulting released Feb 11. More than 1,800 of those jobs would come out of hospitals, private practice offices, outpatient centers and other health care providers. Dental offices would lose an estimated 174 jobs, according to the report, while smaller, secondary impacts would be felt through job losses in the real estate, air transportation and other sectors. The next day, on Feb. 12, House Democrats released an analysis from Legislative Legal Services that concludes it would take a statutory change for Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy to roll back Medicaid expansion. According to the Legislative Finance Division, overall spending on Medicaid in Alaska has increased from $1.7 billion to more than $2.3 billion since fiscal year 2015, but the state’s portion of that has actually gone down from $724 million in 2015 to $677 million, which includes a $15 million supplemental budget request, in the current fiscal year. Economists generally expect Alaska will come out of the current recession, which started in late 2015, towards the end of this year. The state Labor Department is officially forecasting Alaska will add approximately 1,400 jobs this year after losing roughly 12,000 over the last three-plus years. However, if and when Alaska’s economy rebounds will largely depend on how legislators and Dunleavy resolve the state’s roughly $1.6 billion budget deficit projected for the 2020 fiscal year that begins July 1. The health care sector — partly driven by new Medicaid expansion funding started in fall 2015 — has defied overall state economic trends and added roughly 3,700 jobs, for about 11 percent growth, since 2015, according to Labor statistics. The longstanding policy debate over whether the State of Alaska should offer Medicaid to individuals who now qualify for it under the expanded eligibility guidelines of the Affordable Care Act has been at the forefront of state politics since former Govs. Sean Parnell first rejected Medicaid expansion in November 2013 and Bill Walker accepted it in 2015. The federal Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid coverage to cover uninsured low-income adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. A 2012 U.S. Supreme Court decision struck down the ACA language requiring states to expand Medicaid and left it to each to decide whether to expand eligibility. Proponents highlight the fact that procedures and other costs for expanded-class Medicaid recipients are covered by at least 90 percent federal funding with a corresponding 10 percent state general fund match; a matching rate similar to federal transportation funding programs Alaska routinely attempts to maximize. Costs for more traditional Medicaid recipients are covered 50-50 by the feds and the state, while Medicaid coverage for Alaska Natives is paid 100 percent by the federal Indian Health Service. Expansion detractors argue the program simply adds to overall government health care costs for individuals — low-income, working-age adults — who were never intended to be covered by Medicaid when it began. There also are no assurances the federal expansion-class support won’t be arbitrarily reduced at some point, then leaving the state to pay more, they contend as well. Halcyon Consulting founder and longtime Alaska economist Jonathan King said in a formal statement that the projected negative impact of repealing Medicaid expansion would mostly be a result of lost federal funds. In the 2018 fiscal year the State of Alaska spent $15.6 million to match $404.5 million in federal funds to cover more than 50,500 Medicaid recipients under the expanded program. The federal funding rate has gone from 100 percent in 2016 to 93 percent in calendar 2019 and in 2020 will level out at 90 percent per year. Expanded-class enrollment estimates from before Walker unilaterally accepted federal Medicaid expansion funds in September 2015 ranged from roughly 43,000 more than 64,000. Economy and health care analysts also believe the ongoing recession has added individuals once covered by employee-sponsored health care to the state’s Medicaid rolls. “Elected officials can debate the politics of the issue, but not the numbers; economic analysis shows how rejecting these federal dollars would hurt Alaska’s economy,” King said. “Our economy is too fragile (to) absorb this size hit without extending the recession.” According to the report, strictly cutting Medicaid expansion would pull, based on fiscal 2018 figures, $420 million from the state budget, result in $283 million in lost wages from 4,041 fewer jobs across the state and have a cumulative negative economic impact of $627 million. However, the report presumes that a small portion of the expansion population would then find health insurance through another means, thereby lessening the net negative impact. Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association CEO Becky Hultberg said she has not heard of any specific plans from the Dunleavy administration to repeal Medicaid expansion or make other wholesale changes to the state’s program, which includes many optionally covered services and procedures, but noted administration officials have stressed that everything is “on the table.” A spokesman for Dunleavy did not return a request for comment in time for this story. In addition to Walker accepting federal funding for Medicaid expansion in 2015 — then 100 percent federally funded — despite attempts by the Republican-controlled Legislature to stop him in court, in 2016 the Legislature passed a Medicaid reform package aimed at reducing the state’s annual bill. The state’s savings in that bill were estimated at the time to total more than $365 million over six years, with most of that coming from targeted efforts to and maximize the value of the state’s Medicaid matching funds shift state costs to the federal government. The state has also reduced its Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to providers. “I think the question for not just our state but for our country is: How do we take care of people and do it in a fiscally sustainable way?” Hultberg said. “We have lots of conversations about how we do one or the other but the reality is that we have an obligation to do both.” She added that the U.S. already provides health care to people who can’t afford it but that care usually comes via emergency departments; often the least effective and most expensive way it can be provided. Legislative Legal: Gov must accept expansion funds While the federal money for expanding Medicaid services was accepted with executive authority, the governor cannot selectively reject Medicaid funding without a change to state law, at least according to an opinion offered by the nonpartisan Division of Legislative Legal Services. The House Democrat-led coalition released a memo on Feb. 12 from Legislative Legal Director Megan Wallace that states, “given the precedent in Alaska, without a substantive law change, if the governor refused to accept all or part of the federal funding for Medicaid expansion, that act alone would not be enough to reverse Medicaid expansion.” The memo is dated Dec. 6 and addressed to then Rep.-elect Zack Fields, D-Anchorage. House Democrats emphasized the economic boost the federal money — nearly $1 billion so far — offers the state in formal statements. “Medicaid expansion has reduced the cost of uncompensated care at hospitals, which saves money for Alaskans who are covered by private health insurance,” Fields said. “Alaska’s leading business organizations advocated for Medicaid expansion based on a need to reduce uncompensated care and bring new investment to the state.” Gov. Walker in 2015 accepted the expansion money by invoking state statutes that call for all Alaskans who are eligible for federal Medicaid coverage to be offered that coverage and allow the governor to accept federal program recipients in excess of what the Legislature appropriated for as long as the appropriation was made in the budget. In other words, the governor can authorize the state to spend more federal money than the Legislature planned for as long as the new money is going to an existing appropriation. An Alaska Superior Court ruling upheld that authority in a subsequent lawsuit led by Republican legislators against Walker over the issue. However, according to Wallace, the governor cannot parse out and reject the Medicaid expansion funds — or any other subset of federal Medicaid funding for that matter — because all Medicaid funds are lumped together in a single $2 billion-plus “Medicaid Services” appropriation in the budget. “Medicaid expansion cannot be stopped through the failure to accept or appropriate full funding, it would instead impact all Medicaid services,” Wallace wrote. As a result, any restrictions on how Medicaid funding can be spent must come through a law change, according to Wallace. Officials in the Dunleavy administration have said a suite of separate but related bills will accompany their much-anticipated budget release Feb. 13 to address formula funded programs and other issues. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Feb. 10

Dr. Niki Tshibaka and Karen Melin have been appointed to leadership positions within the Department of Education and Early Development. Tshibaka has been named assistant commissioner, and will lead DEED’s health and safety team. Tshibaka is an attorney and has been advancing civil rights, human rights, and social justice causes in government, non-profit, and private sectors for more than 16 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Amherst College and a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School. Tshibaka will coordinate the efforts of multiple state departments to address safety and well-being issues. This work will include collaborating with students, school districts, tribes, community organizations, non-profits, and families to maximize educational opportunities. Melin has been named deputy commissioner. Melin previously served as an education administrator and education specialist at DEED, most recently serving as the project coordinator for the Alaska’s Education Challenge and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Previously, Ms. Melin worked for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District as an assessment and multi-tiered system of support coordinator. She holds certification in Alaska as a teacher, and has experience both as a reading specialist and an elementary teacher. She holds an associate’s degree in early childhood education from Evangel College and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Alaska Southeast. Rounding out Commissioner Dr. Michael Johnson’s executive leadership team is Brittany Hartmann. Hartmann has wide-ranging legislative, public relations, and research experience in public education policy in Alaska, having previously served as a legislative aide and member of the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce Education Committee. Hartmann will serve as DEED’s legislative liaison, and the primary point of contact for Johnson. After four decades at R&M Consultants Inc., Senior Vice President of Earth Sciences Charlie Riddle, CPG, and Group Manager of Structural Engineering Duane Anderson, PE, have retired. Riddle and Anderson joined R&M in its infancy: Riddle in 1974 as a field geologist assigned to work on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System and Anderson as a structural engineer in 1975, working on the Gulkana River Pipeline Bridge for TAPS. Riddle became director of R&M’s Earth Sciences Department in 1992, taking over management and responsibility for the department’s growth and direction. His notable projects include the U.S. Navy Over the Horizon Radar Facility in Amchitka, numerous projects in support of TAPS, multiple versions of the proposed gas pipeline, the Susitna Dam Project and Bradley Lake Hydroelectric Project. Over his lengthy career, Anderson has designed numerous facilities valued in excess of $75 million. His experience has been varied and diverse, but has largely been focused on waterfront, bridge, military, utility and school projects throughout Alaska. Anderson became Group Manager of Structural Engineering in 1993, where he has been responsible for building the firm’s structural business line. In 2016, Anderson was recognized as a Fellow with the American Society of Civil Engineers and was nominated for Engineer of the Year that same year. He has worked on numerous projects throughout the years, most notably the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements, Kotzebue Shore Avenue, Port of Alaska Engineering Services Term Contract, Elmendorf Airforce Base F22 Weather Shelter, U.S. Navy Submarine Acoustic Measurement Facility and Thompson Pass Highline Design for TAPS. CRW Engineering Group LLC, a local engineering and land surveying firm, recently promoted two long-term employees to the position of principal. Justin Keene, PE, is a lifelong Alaskan and began at CRW in 2000 as a summer intern before joining full-time in 2003. Since then, he has served as a project manager/engineer on a variety of civil engineering projects throughout Alaska involving transportation, site, and utility (water, sewer, and storm drain) infrastructure. Keene is currently a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Montana State University in Bozeman. Anthony Robinson, PLS, CFedS, is a senior land surveyor and certified federal surveyor with more than 22 years of experience leading field surveys and mapping for design, right-of-way, land/site development, and construction projects. He is also CRW’s chief drone officer and a FAA-certified unmanned aerial vehicle pilot. Robinson has worked throughout Alaska specializing in land surveying in remote areas. He graduated from Michigan Technological University with a bachelor’s degree in land surveying and an associate’s degree in civil engineering. He joined CRW in 2008. Daniel Mitchell of Cook Inlet Region Inc. and Dr. Thomas Yetman of Providence Medical Group Alaska have joined the board of directors of United Way of Anchorage. Mitchell is chief financial officer at CIRI, where he oversees the Finance and Accounting and Business Development departments. Before joining CIRI in 2018, Mitchell was a managing director at KPMG LLP’s Anchorage office. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Alaska Anchorage and is a certified public accountant. Yetman, a Navy veteran with more than 30 years in the health-care field, is chief executive officer of Providence Medical Group Alaska, which provides primary and specialty care through Providence Alaska Medical Center and The Children’s Hospital at Providence. Before joining Providence here in 2018, he served as CEO and chief medical officer at Providence Medical Group Northwest Washington. An obstetrician/gynecologist, Yetman holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of California San Diego and a medical degree from George Washington University. The United Way board’s new officers are Belinda Breaux, chair, of Alyeska Pipeline Service Co.; Natasha Pope, vice chair, First National Bank Alaska; Beth Stuart, treasurer, KPMG; and Mike Dunn, secretary, Hilcorp Alaska. Bob Griffin of Anchorage and Sally Stockhausen of Ketchikan were appointed to the state Board of Education and Early Development, and Tiffany Scott of Kotzebue was reappointed. The two new members and Scott were sworn into office at the board’s meeting in Juneau on Feb. 4. Griffin was appointed Jan. 15 to fill the seat for the Public At-Large, replacing Barbara Thompson, who resigned. Griffin’s term expires March 1, 2024. Griffin is an airline captain with Alaska Airlines and a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. He is a current member of the Anchorage School District Capital Improvement Advisory Committee and the former chair of the ASD Budget Advisory Commission. Griffin holds a bachelor’s degree in professional aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Stockhausen was appointed Jan. 15 to fill the seat for the First Judicial District, replacing Rebecca Himschoot. Stockhausen’s term expires March 1, 2021. Stockhausen has served as a special education teacher in Alaska for more than 15 years. She currently holds certification in Alaska as a teacher, and serves as a special education teacher and department chair with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District. Stockhausen holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from John Brown University and a master’s degree in special education from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Scott was reappointed March 1 to fill the seat for the Second Judicial District. Scott’s term expires March 1, 2024. Scott is employed by the Maniilaq Health Center as a registered nurse in the emergency department. She holds an associate’s degree in nursing from the University of Alaska Anchorage and a bachelor’s degree in extension studies from Harvard University Extension School. Scott is a former member of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough School Board.

ConocoPhillips turns first annual profit since 2014

ConocoPhillips continued its turnaround from the oil price collapse by netting the company’s first annual profit in four years with net income of more than $6.2 billion in 2018. In its year-end earnings report issued Jan. 31, the Houston-based oil major additionally posted a fourth quarter profit of $1.8 billion, compared to a fourth quarter 2017 profit of nearly $1.6 billion. ConocoPhillips lost $855 million overall in 2017. The fourth quarter result is also the company’s best quarterly return since the third quarter of 2014 when oil prices averaged $97 per barrel and it earned $2.7 billion, according to report archives. In Alaska, ConocoPhillips turned profits of $445 million for the fourth quarter and $1.8 billion overall for 2018. The companywide earnings came on the back of $10.3 billion in revenue for the quarter and $38.7 billion for the year. ConocoPhillips generated $5.5 billion in free cash flow during the year, according to the earnings report. CEO Ryan Lance said he is proud of the results in a formal statement. “Our accomplishments reflect our clear commitment to a value proposition that is focused on returns and free cash flow generation, and that balances investments with returning cash flow to shareholders through price cycles. This is our formula for offering investors a compelling way to invest in our sector, ” Lance said. “We look forward to delivering another strong year of performance in 2019.” ConocoPhillips announced a first quarter dividend of 30.5 cents per share ahead of the earnings report. The dividend will be paid March 1. ConocoPhillips stock closed trading at $67.69 per share Jan. 31, up from a pre-earnings opening price of $65.76 per share. The company sold its oil for an average price of $68.03 per barrel last year, compared to $51.89 per barrel in 2017. ConocoPhillips Alaska leaders have said the company has set a $40 per barrel oil price breakeven benchmark for all of its future projects. During the year ConocoPhillips paid down $4.7 billion in debt and reached its debt target of $15 billion 18 months ahead of schedule, according to an earnings release. Last July, the company announced a deal with BP to swap a portion of its interests in the offshore Clair Field in Britain’s North Sea for BP’s 38 percent stake in the Kuparuk River oil field on the North Slope, which ConocoPhillips operates. The cash-neutral deal gives ConocoPhillips a 92 percent stake in Kuparuk, according to state Division of Oil and Gas records. The company also commenced production from its $725 million Greater Mooses Tooth-1 oil project in early October. GMT-1 is expected to produce up to 30,000 barrels of oil per day at its peak and marks the first oil production from federal leases within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Later that month ConocoPhillips approved funding for the nearby and slightly larger $1 billion-plus GMT-2 project, which is forecasted to come online in late 2021. The company also initiated permitting on its large Willow oil prospect, also in the NPR-A, which could cost $4 billion to $6 billion to fully develop over the next six-plus years. ConocoPhillips spent nearly $1.3 billion on capital projects in the state last year out of an overall capital budget of $6.7 billion. BP, ExxonMobil report results BP, which operates the massive North Slope Prudhoe Bay oil field, reported a full-year 2018 profit of $9.4 billion Feb. 5, compared to $3.4 billion in 2017. The London-based major also reported an underlying replacement cost profit of $3.5 billion for the fourth quarter from strong performance in all of its business sectors. The company generated an 11.2 percent return on invested capital during the year, compared to 5.8 percent in 2017, according to the financial report. BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement payments totaled $3.2 billion last year. Its oil and gas production was up more than 8 percent year-over-year, averaging 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2018. ExxonMobil, operator of the Point Thomson gas field on the North Slope, on Feb. 1 reported full-year earning of $20.8 billion, up from $19.7 billion in 2017 and fourth quarter earnings of $6 billion, down 28 percent year-over-year. However, excluding U.S. corporate tax reforms and impairments, the fourth quarter results were $6.4 billion, compared to $3.7 billion in the last months of 2017, according to a company statement. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Feb. 3

The Alaska Energy Authority board of directors appointed Curtis Thayer as AEA executive director. Thayer comes to AEA with more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. Since 2015, Thayer has been the President and CEO of the Alaska Chamber since 2015. Thayer also served as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Administration and as the deputy commissioner of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. Prior to joining state government, Thayer served on the management team of Enstar Natural Gas. He also worked for Rep. Don Young as well as Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski. Thayer’s first day as AEA Executive Director will be Feb. 4. Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang named Dave Rutz as director of the Division of Sport Fish and Sam Rabung as the director of Commercial Fisheries. Rutz has worked in fisheries research and management for nearly 40 years. He spent much of his career at the department’s Division of Sport Fish as an area management biologist in the Northern and Western Cook Inlet Management area. He has also led the department’s Alexander Creek Invasive Northern Pike Removal and Restoration project and worked around the state in various research and management roles. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree with wildlife fisheries emphasis from St. Cloud State (Minn.) in 1980. Prior to accepting his new role, Rabung has been serving as section chief for the Division of Commercial Fisheries Statewide Aquaculture, Planning, and Permitting, a position he held since 2015. He has also worked in a variety of positions overseeing hatchery operations around the state. He first joined the department as a fisheries technician in 1983. Rabung graduated with honors in 1987 from Sheldon Jackson College with a bachelor’s degree in aquatic resources, fisheries science and aquaculture emphasis. Engineering, planning and consulting services firm Michael Baker International has expanded its operation in Anchorage with two new hires. Marc Luiken has joined the firm as civil/transportation engineering manager and Patrick Whitesell as Environmental Department lead. Luiken previously served as commissioner for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. Prior to his public service in Alaska, Luiken served 29 years with the U.S. Air Force, retiring as the Vice Commander of the 11th Air Force in 2010. His career as an Air Force fighter pilot spanned the globe with assignments in Europe, the Middle East and Pacific regions. He is a combat veteran with service in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Joint Forge and Operation Enduring Freedom. Before joining Michael Baker, Mr. Whitesell served as an environmental specialist at DOWL, a transportation design consultancy, for 11 years. He managed a small team and led dozens of phase 1 environmental site assessments, numerous wetland delineations and noise analyses for a range of private- and public-sector clients. Whitesell also conducted research and analysis on environmental resources including wetlands, waterways and local animal species that could be impacted from proposed projects and ensured project design processes were compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act. He previously served as an environmental engineer at Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, where he managed multiple waterway restoration and enhancement projects from initial design and scoping through construction. Rep. Don Young announced that Zack Brown will serve as press secretary in his Washington, D.C., office. Brown, a graduate of the George Washington University who most recently worked for Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-NY, arrives following the departure of Murphy McCollough, who returned home to Texas to serve in the Office of the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives.

FISH FACTOR: Salmon market looks up, but many still can’t cook it

Heading into the 2019 salmon season, markets are looking good as global demand exceeds supply. That’s due in part to constraints on the world’s biggest producers of farmed Atlantic salmon — Norway and Chile. While farmed production continues to tick upwards, growth in both countries is limited as to the maximum amount of fish regulations permit them to have in the water. Chile also is still recovering from a deadly virus that wiped out millions of fish in 2016, and Norway is battling pervasive sea lice issues. All told, the days appear to be over when both countries could count on double-digit increases in production to meet setbacks in supply. “Now it appears the salmon farmers don’t have any rabbits left in the hat. They are still increasing production but not to the extent in percentage terms that it used to be,” said Andy Wink, a fisheries economist and director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. Couple that with expanding salmon demand, and current market conditions create a larger niche for wild salmon, Wink said, not only in the U.S. but also in China. “Demand for salmon in China is growing in a big way,” he explained. “News reports say they expect farmed salmon consumption in China to go from 90,000 metric tons (198 million pounds) this past year to around 250,000 mt (550 million pounds) by 2025. There’s a lot of opportunity for all wild salmon.” Market watchers are awaiting the last four months of sales data, but all salmon species have been selling well and holdover inventories are not expected heading into the coming season. “We saw strong pricing on the wholesale side and volumes moved at a quick clip,” Wink said. “As far as sockeye goes, people I’ve been in touch with anecdotally say things are moving nicely even though prices are up.” Another good sign is that the value of the dollar has held steady. “For the past year the dollar has been going sideways in terms of its strength,” Wink explained. “If it moves a lot, that will have a huge impact on fish prices, but for the time being we haven’t seen a lot of change.” Demand continues to increase in the U.S. where Wink said more appreciation has grown for wild salmon in general. He pointed to Costco as a new market channel, which rolled out a national sockeye salmon program last year. That really gave sockeyes a boost, and Wink said it was clearly shown in Bristol Bay’s branding promotion that has grown from a small pilot program in a handful of stores in Boulder, Colo., in 2016 to 1,000 stores across the country and growing. “When we approach a retailer they are generally very receptive and excited to work with us,” he said. “They know their customers want wild salmon, they want to know where it comes from and that connection with the producer, and that it’s a quality product. Whether it’s from Bristol Bay or other places in Alaska, there’s great demand for that in the U.S.” Wink said the decades of hard work by Alaska’s salmon industry is really starting to pay off. “A lot of great work has been done to develop the quality of the pack, push new products and new markets are opening up,” he said. “Even though they’ve taken years to cultivate, we’re seeing a lot of those investments bear fruit now.” Fish fears A lack of knowledge about seafood is the biggest hurdle to increasing sales and U.S. consumption. That’s the main take away from one of the industry’s most popular events: the Global Seafood Market Conference held this month in California. Results of a first ever Power of Seafood Survey of more than 2,000 Americans by the Food Marketing Institute yielded some surprises about why Americans aren’t buying more seafood and revealed hurdles that prevent them from buying more. A recap of the FMI survey by SeafoodSource found that only 56 percent of Americans eat seafood twice a month, a far cry from the twice a week recommendation by the U.S. government. Just one in five adults said they meet that weekly threshold. Freshness and flavor have a major impact on seafood purchases, the survey revealed, but most shoppers said they feel “turned off” by their lack of knowledge. Nearly half of consumers said there is not enough information about how to judge quality and freshness, and 42 percent said they wanted more information about different species of fish and shellfish. Guy Pizzuti, seafood manager for the Publix supermarket chain, called consumers’ worries over evaluating freshness a “failure of the industry.” Just 29 percent of the respondents said they feel very knowledgeable about how to buy seafood; only 28 percent said they felt confident in how to prepare or season it. Buyers from major grocery chains said they can’t focus on the appeal of raw seafood; instead, they must stimulate consumers to believe they can easily cook it at home. Pizzuti added that for decades the industry has been talking about teaching consumers how to prepare seafood and it still hasn’t been figured out. Dave Wier of the Meijer chain added that the industry is “too busy telling customers what boat caught the fish instead of how to cook it.” He said they’ve taken their eye off what consumers really want and that the industry is “terrible at this and must improve quickly.” The survey found that the average seafood eater spends more on food in weekly shopping than non-eaters, and frequent seafood eaters spend even more - showing it to be a small but lucrative demographic group. Funds for saving lives Saving lives and reducing injuries is the goal of fishing safety grants available to non-profit groups, municipalities, academics and businesses involved in the fishing and maritime industries. The Fishing Safety Research Grant Program was funded in 2010 as part of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, and the money is finally available. “These are moneys that came to the Coast Guard first and we are partnering with them to administer these important safety training and research grants. This is the first time that these funds have been available,” saidJennifer Lincoln, co-director of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Maritime Center for Safety and Health Studies. The grants will provide up to 75 percent of the costs and range from $250,000-$650,000 per grant over two years. Academics and nonprofits already involved in research and training are likely applicants, but communities and businesses also are encouraged. “They could partner with a training organization to offer training for fishermen in their area,” Lincoln explained. “There also are small business grants that include things like developing new technologies for industry. It’s those types of ideas that I would potentially expect from municipalities or businesses.” Different fishing fleets have different hazards and proposals can be targeted to what works best for a particular fishery, gear group or region. “A group of fishermen might want to focus on fatigue-related issues,” Lincoln said. “Other ideas could include improving a piece of deck equipment that is particular to a fleet. Catcher processors or the head and gut fleet might want to focus on ergonomic issues and improved processes on their vessels.” Lincoln said ideas continue to evolve on improving safety equipment such as life jackets and she expects some grants will target vessel stability training. Another potential opportunity, she said is exploring hearing protections for fishermen. February 21 is the deadline to apply in two categories: safety research and training. The “opportunity numbers” are RFA-OH-19-004 and RFA-OH-19-005. Laine Welch lives in Kodiak. Visit or contact [email protected] for information.

Economists: Three-year recession to end ‘with a whimper’

There is a general belief among Alaska economists that the longest recession in the state’s history will come to an end later this year, but the economy isn’t likely to look much different then than it does now. Longtime Alaska Labor Department Economist Neal Fried expects employers will add roughly 1,400 jobs in 2019, which, while a definite positive, would only be about 0.4 percent growth in the job market. Overall, the state has lost about 12,000 jobs since late 2015, when depressed oil prices and ballooning state budget deficits led to contraction in some of the state’s largest industries — oil, construction and government. While the final numbers for 2018 are still being tallied, Fried and University of Alaska Anchorage economic professor emeritus Scott Goldsmith believe final numbers will show the state lost about 2,300 jobs last year, a 0.7 percent contraction of the workforce after consecutive years of losses in excess of 4,600 jobs in 2016 and 2017. Statewide employment was down 0.3 percent in December, according to a Jan. 18 Labor Department release. Goldsmith said the state is headed towards what he described as a “post-recession” period and not a true recovery, which would technically mean a return to pre-recession job levels. Current employment levels mirror 2011, according to Fried. Relatively stabilized oil prices in the $60 to $70 per barrel range, a suite of new North Slope oil prospects and — tentatively — stabilized state government spending are what Fried and Goldsmith are basing their 2019 projections on. “The declines are declining,” Goldsmith said at a Jan. 16 luncheon, noting that Alaska was adding jobs at a rate of just about 0.4 percent per year in the three-year period leading up to the recession. “If you recall those were years when oil prices were over $100 per barrel so one would’ve expected that the economy would’ve been chugging along at a pretty brisk rate, but it really wasn’t so I think that’s worth thinking about as we move forward,” he added. They’re forecasting the oil and gas industry, which has shed about 5,000 jobs — more than one-third of its total Alaska workforce — since 2015, will add about 300 jobs this year. Oil and gas companies added 100 jobs in December year-over-year, according to the Labor Department. The closely linked construction industry added another 200 jobs in December and Fried is predicting Alaska builders will hire 900 more employees over the coming year. “A recession usually ends with a whimper. What generally happens is the positives get big enough to overwhelm the negatives,” he said, which is what he is predicting for 2019. Additional employment gains of about 500 jobs are expected in the health care and hospitality industries, sectors that mostly continued to grow during the recession. Those additions will offset small losses in government and retail, according to Fried. UAA Institute of Social and Economic Research professor Mouhcine Guettabi noted that the improved economic outlook is predicated on the Legislature and Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy not resolving the state’s current $1.6 billion budget deficit with spending cuts alone. “If that ($1.6 billion) were to get removed from the economy, obviously all of this gets tossed aside,” he said. ISER has concluded that state government spending cuts are the most economically damaging way lawmakers can close the state’s budget gap. That’s because Alaska uniquely relies on oil tax and royalty revenue and as of this year investment earnings from the Permanent Fund to pay for government services — money that is additive to the overall state economy — instead of recycled broad-based tax revenue. ISER estimates $100 million in state operating budget cuts roughly equates to 1,000 or more full-time jobs lost depending on how the cuts are implemented. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 27

Past board chair of Providence Alaska Foundation Scott Habberstad was unanimously selected as board member emeritus of the foundation. Habberstad’s accomplishments last year include leading the effort to secure 89 percent of the funding needed to advance construction of Alaska CARES, an outpatient clinic that provides evaluations and support services for children around the state experiencing physical and sexual abuse. Alaska CARES is part of a community collaboration that provides treatment in a facility where victim advocates, law enforcement, child protection, tribal health, forensic medicine and mental health professionals are located under one roof so they can work together to help victims. Construction of the $12.8 million facility started in April of 2018, and it is scheduled to open in April 2019. Habberstad’s year as chair also included major milestone celebrations for other programs receiving community support through the foundation, such as The Children’s Hospital at Providence at 20 years of service and Providence Cancer Center at 10 years of service. Habberstad will continue to serve as a voting member on the board of Providence Alaska Foundation in his role as immediate past chair in 2019 and will assume the title of emeritus in 2020. Ronalda Cadiente Brown has accepted the position of associate vice chancellor for Alaska Native Programs at the University of Alaska Southeast. As part of her duties, she will continue to serve as director of the PITAAS program, or Preparing Indigenous Teachers and Administrators for Alaska’s Schools. Cadiente Brown grew up in Juneau and earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Pacific University. She earned a master’s degree in curriculum and teacher education at Stanford University. Cadiente Brown, who is of Tlingit and Filipino heritage, has dedicated her career toward systems improvement for student engagement, most recently serving as assistant dean in the UAS Alaska College of Education. She is a distinguished educator who began her career with Portland Public Schools as an Indian Education specialist prior to returning home where she served as an administrator for Juneau Public Schools for over 28 years. Ronalda’s professional experience includes Indian Studies Program Director, where she led an Indigenous curriculum project that was adopted by the district and received a federal Showcase Award by the U.S. Department of Education. She also served as a middle school assistant principal, alternative high school principal. She served in the district’s central office as program coordinator of federal grants, including a Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative with multi-community partnerships and K-12 curriculum and teacher training projects. At UAS she has served as PITAAS program director for over seven years. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced that two new counsels, John Crowther and Jed Dearborn, have joined her team at the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. She also welcomed an intern, Grant Cummings, who is assisting the committee with various projects this winter. Crowther joins the committee as senior counsel after serving as director of state and federal relations for the State of Alaska from October 2017 to January 2019. Prior to that, he served as inter-governmental coordinator and special assistant at the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for five years. He will focus primarily on oil and natural gas issues for the committee, as well as issues related to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Crowther earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College and juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center. He is originally from Anchorage. Dearborn came to Capitol Hill in April 2017 as energy counsel for Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo. He joined the committee in September 2018 to serve as senior counsel, where he focuses on policy and regulatory issues in the electricity and natural gas sectors. Prior to his Senate service, he was an associate for the energy and public utilities practice at Schiff Hardin LLP, where he represented electric and gas utilities before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state utility commissions, and Congress. Dearborn graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Vanderbilt University, and earned a juris doctorate from The George Washington University Law School. Cummings earned a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He previously worked as a petroleum engineer for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and has interned for BP’s Global Wells Organization, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and Latshaw Drilling Company. Cummings is from Anchorage and graduated from South Anchorage High School in 2012. Sarah Lukin joins NANA Regional Corp. as its new senior vice president and chief administration officer, and Kevin Aubertin joins NANA’s Commercial Group as the president of Tuuq Drilling. Lukin, who officially began her tenure at NANA on Jan. 7, will provide strategic leadership in a broad range of functions, including leading external and government affairs, corporate communications, corporate administration, corporate operations and regional sustainability. Lukin has more than 18 years of experience working with businesses across the U.S. and Canada, including her previous role as chief operating officer for Pt Capital, LLC, and senior vice president of corporate affairs for Afognak Native Corp. Lukin earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alaska, and a certificate in Alaska Native executive leadership from Alaska Pacific University. Tuuq Drilling, owned by NANA Development Corp., brought Aubertin on in December 2018 to strengthen the drilling company’s business performance for sustainability and growth. Tuuq Drilling provides drilling services in the mining industry, most notably in the 38,000-square-mile NANA region in Alaska’s Arctic. Aubertin comes to Tuuq Drilling with diverse experience in global business organizations including Canada-based Tonto Drilling Services, Nevada-based Coates Drilling and the joint ventures of NANA-Coates and NANA-Dynatec. Most recently, Aubertin was the project management superintendent for Major Drilling America.

Dunleavy adminstration pumping brakes on gasline direction

Gov. Micheal J. Dunleavy’s administration plans to go back to the future for a successful Alaska LNG Project. Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman stressed the administration’s belief that the state-owned Alaska Gasline Development Corp. needs to shift its focus away from intense efforts to get the $43 billion gasline project approved quickly in favor of resurrecting the “stage-gate” approach favored by the state’s former producer partners during a Jan. 18 speech at the Meet Alaska oil and mining contractor trade show in Anchorage. “The (administration) transition is a great opportunity to pause and see exactly where we’re at in the process with the Alaska LNG Project specifically. It’s a good chance to reach out to our partners that we used to be involved with on a different level and see what their views are of the gasline and the LNG market — get their expertise,” Tangeman said. He added that Dunleavy is very familiar with the project from his time in the state Senate. Dunleavy and other legislators were comfortable with the stage-gate megaproject development process employed until the state took over leadership of the project in late 2016, according to Tangeman. The deliberate stage-gate process breaks overall project development into numerous stages and after each is finished a decision is made whether or not to advance to the next stage. For Alaska LNG, the decision points, or gates, were times when BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and the State of Alaska could evaluate their desire to continue or allow the other partners go ahead without them. The companies approach former Gov. Sean Parnell about the prospect of the state being a 25 percent partner in Alaska LNG, which was appealing to the state because it was a way to participate without undue risk, said Tangeman, who was a deputy Revenue commissioner when the public-private Alaska LNG Project ownership structure was devised during Parnell’s tenure in the governor’s office. Parnell has since consulted with Dunleavy on the current status of the project since the election. “We had partners who had done this kind of work and we were going to jump on their backs and ride across the finish line to a successful, profitable project,” he recalled. ExxonMobil was leading the project at that time and the company’s Alaska LNG manager Steve Butt emphasized a need to continually focus on lowering the project’s final cost of LNG supply through optimized project design and infrastructure engineering, in turn leading to improved project economics overall. However, when oil markets bottomed out at sub-$30 per barrel prices in early 2016 — and oil-linked global LNG prices followed suit — the companies suggested to then-Gov. Bill Walker that the project could either be slowed or the state, through AGDC, could take it over. Walker, a longtime advocate for a publicly-led gasline project, quickly chose the state-led option. The Alaska LNG team at the time was wrapping up the roughly $600 million preliminary front-end engineering and design, or pre-FEED, stage of the project, which resulted in reams of environmental and engineering data and the current cost estimate of $43 billion, below the conceptual range of $45 billion to $65 billion. Under Walker, AGDC focused on marketing the project to potential customers in the Asia-Pacific region, an aspect of development Walker repeatedly said had been incorrectly ignored under the prior producer-led Alaska LNG structure. AGDC also began the multi-year process of securing federal permits for the project in April 2017 primarily using the information gathered during pre-FEED. Tangeman said interim AGDC President Joe Dubler and new board members appointed by Dunleavy are also taking time to better understand where the quasi-state agency is in negotiations with potential customers as well as the status of permitting with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC is scheduled to release a draft environmental impact statement for the project sometime in February. Dubler, a former finance executive with AGDC, officially takes over as president of the corporation Feb. 1. The board hired him Jan. 10 immediately after firing Keith Meyer, who was hired in 2016 under Walker’s guidance for his significant experience in Lower 48 LNG and pipeline companies. AGDC secured 15 letters of interest from potential customers under Meyer’s leadership and was actively negotiating with six of them when he was let go, according to corporate management. The most notable interest has come from a consortium of state-owned Chinese corporations, which signed a joint development agreement, or JDA, with AGDC in November 2017 in front of President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping. The JDA outlines the prospect of the Bank of China and oil giant Sinopec Corp. becoming anchor customers and financiers of the project, with the bank debt funding up to 75 percent of the $43 billion project cost in exchange for Sinopec purchasing 75 percent of its LNG production capacity. Final JDA negotiations have been extended for six months after a Dec. 31 deadline was not met. While the administration is championing a slower approach, board chair Doug Smith also said he doesn’t want to slow any of the progress the corporation has made. Tangeman made it clear that AGDC would not be making a final investment decision on Alaska LNG in 2020 as Meyer had been pushing for, but getting a record of decision from FERC would be valuable and it’s unclear exactly how much that will cost. The state will not be leading a project into construction with as much risk as it carries now, he said. AGDC was also preparing for what executives called an “equity road show” to market the project to investors this year. They often noted the producers would be welcome investors to the project. Tangeman said Dunleavy doesn’t expect to return to the prior structure, but he would be happy with it. “We understand what took place with the price of oil, the price of gas over the last several years but we’ll be talking with (the producers) to see what the climate is now, where we are with oil at $60; what is the gas market; is there an appetite to reengage and see if we can move forward as a partnership again?” he said. “We look forward to having those discussions again. And ultimately a stage gate approach will be put in place so we know and Alaskans know exactly how we’re going to build this project.” The Legislature will also have its say, Tangeman noted. AGDC had previously stressed the need to move quickly on the project to meet a mid-2020s market demand window. BP Alaska President Janet Weiss said in an interview that a state-led project has tax advantages the IRS has recognized that could lower the cost of supply and government-to-government relationships with customers are valuable as well. The state is wrestling with the challenge of assuring it can find a competent builder for the project, something BP, which has assisted AGDC since the state took over, would need to be comfortable with before it would invest. The London oil major also agreed to key terms, including pricing, in May with AGDC to sell its share of North Slope gas into the project. Weiss said BP, which has championed the state’s project “is all about educating and figuring out how to go forward” in discussions with the administration and Legislature. Tangeman said in an interview that the potential customers AGDC is negotiating with understand some change is going to happen in the project with a change of governors but that it will survive if it is economic. He said they also understand there is still a lot of work to do. AGDC veered from the formal stage gates between pre-FEED and FEED, which the companies estimated to be up to a $2 billion undertaking of much more detailed work. “All that hard work has gotten us to a 10-yard line but I think we still have a long way to go to get to the 10-yard line,” Tangeman said, referencing Walker’s campaign metaphor for how close he believes the state is to finally building a gasline. “And I think it’s going to be important that Alaskans understand that.” Tangeman later added in an interview that, “Gov. Dunleavy doesn’t want to go that 90 yards with 100 percent of the risk on our back.” ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 20

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. announced Lynn Rust Henderson, who is vice president of sales and service for Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, is now chair of AEDC’s board of directors. Joining her on the board’s executive team are BP Alaska Head of Control David Knapp as vice chair; Northrim Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Michael Huston as secretary and treasurer; Vice President of Operations for the Hotel Captain Cook Raquel Edelen as as immediate past board chair; and DOWL Vice President of Alaska Operations Steve Noble as at-large executive committee member. Four new Alaska business leaders will join AEDC’s 15-member board of directors. New members include: Furniture Enterprises of Alaska President Dave Cavitt; Bering Straits Native Corp. Senior Vice President and CFO Laura Edmondson; Signature Flight Support General Manager Marty Bettis; and Capital Management Benefits Corp. Director Garret Wong. Ahtna Environmental Inc. hired Matthew White, PE, CIH, whose responsibilities will include directing and managing environmental scientists, chemists, industrial hygienists, and environmental inspectors for the goal of applying OSHA, EPA, and USACE regulations for workplace safety and environmental compliance. White is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with more than 30 years of professional experience. White has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Bob Allen joins Ahtna Engineering Services LLC as a senior environmental engineer. Allen has 30 years of professional experience and has been involved in all phases of contaminated site management including site investigations, feasibility studies, and remedial design. He earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Montana State University. MTA announced the appointment of Alaska business and real estate veteran Ken Kincaid to its board of directors. Kincaid, a 35-year MTA member, has most recently served on the board for the Mat-Su Health Foundation, where he was brought on to help navigate the complex purchase of an additional ownership stake in the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. He serves on MSHF’s committees for Governance, Program, CEO Evaluation, and is the chair of its Finance committee. Since joining in 2012, MSHF’s long-term investments, investments from joint ventures, and grants to the community have more than doubled. Kincaid previously worked for 18 years at the Anchorage office of commercial real estate appraisal company Shorett &Riely, which later became Kincaid &Riely after he became the sole proprietor. Kincaid has also served on the Alaska Board of Real Estate Appraisers, the Mat-Su Borough Board of Equalization and numerous church and school leadership boards. Mark Corsentino was appointmented as the new general manager of the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility. Corsentino will replace Brett Jokela, who is retiring after serving as AWWU’s GM for six years. Corsentino has worked for AWWU since 2007. He served as project management engineer and supervisor from 2007-16, and as director of Operations and Maintenance since 2016. In his most recent position, Corsentino led and managed 95 employees, served as a member of AWWU’s leadership team, and was instrumental in the development and execution of the utility’s strategic plan. Corsentino holds a master’s degree in civil engineering and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University. He has more than 18 years of professional experience in the industry. He begins full-time as GM of AWWU in early February. The Alaska Chamber announced the hiring of Albert Fogle as vice president, where he will focus on advocacy, legislative issues, as well as operations and financial management. Before joining the chamber, Fogle worked for RISQ Consulting as an employee benefits and business consultant. He is a licensed life and health insurance producer and past president of the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters. Prior to RISQ, Albert served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Team Leader and Communications Operator where he supervised deployment logistics valued in excess of $2 million under security access controls. His years of military service include a tour in Iraq. Fogle has a bachelor’s of business administration degree in finance, with a minor in criminal justice from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Fogle replaces Ben Mulligan, who recently left the Chamber to serve as the deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Long-time Alaska fisheries analyst Rachel S. Baker will join the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as deputy commissioner beginning Feb. 1. Also joining the department is Rachel Hanke who started work as legislative liaison earlier this month. Baker brings 15 years of experience as an analyst and policy advisor in state and federal fisheries management to her role at the department. She began her fisheries career in 2003 as an economist with ADFG. She joined the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 where she most recently worked as Supervisory Fishery Management Specialist in Silver Spring, Md. She will be based in Juneau. As deputy commissioner she will represent the state’s interests in federal fisheries management issues, including representing the department with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on behalf of the commissioner. She will also coordinate state and federal fisheries policies and management programs to benefit the state and Alaska’s coastal communities. Hanke started at the department on Jan. 7. She worked in the Legislature for five years prior to joining the ADFG. Her background includes stints as staff to Sen. Peter Micciche and Rep. Kurt Olson. The RSA board of directors has elected Roger Weese as the new president. Channing Lillo has been promoted to vice president and principal electrical engineer. Mark Frischkorn will remain as vice president and principal mechanical engineer, and will continue to lead the Mechanical Department. Tim Hall, who has served as president for the past four years, will remain a principal electrical engineer and will continue to work on a part-time basis.

FISH FACTOR: Studies link fewer premature births to fishy omega-3s

Eating seafood can save lives. Premature birth is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5 years old worldwide, accounting for nearly one million deaths annually. Now there is proof that eating seafood or marine oils can significantly reduce that number. The lifesaving ingredient? Omega-3 fatty acids. The conclusion of a new Cochrane Review of 70 studies worldwide on nearly 20,000 pregnant women stated that omegas from marine sources reduce early premature birth by a whopping 42 percent. “The effect really has to be strong to see it in a Cochrane Review and I am very impressed that it has come out as significant as it has,” said Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of pediatrics, chemistry and nutrition at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Research on marine omega-3s and pregnancy has been going on since at least 1992, Brenna said, who called the formal medical global collaboration and conclusions in the Cochran Review a “blunt instrument.” “The number of studies and the number of women studied is large enough so that it is very difficult to imagine that future studies are going to affect these results. We really are looking at something that may well be the final word,” he said. The results also included a 10 percent reduction in low birth weight babies of less than 5.5 pounds. Premature babies are at higher risk of a range of long-term conditions including developmental delay, learning difficulties and visual impairment. Brenna said marine-based omega-3 fatty acids also improve those problems. “Many of us believe that omega-3s are important for continuing development of the neural system and of the eye,” he said. “The brain and the retina in the eye are really omega-3 organs. You can say that as calcium is to the bones, omega-3 is to the brain.” A challenge now, Brenna said, is to translate the marine omega 3 findings on premature birth prevention and other positives into health policy and wider educational outreach. “I think that we have a major effect here that ought to be heralded from the rooftops far and wide,” he said. Fish smell snuffed Fish scientists proved years ago that the tiniest traces of copper in water can affect a salmon’s sense of smell. New research shows that increasing levels of acidity in the oceans does the same thing. Fish use their sense of smell to find food, avoid predators, find spawning areas, even to recognize one another. Losing it could threaten their very survival. “In the environment that has some serious implications,” said Jason Sandahl, whose research team at Oregon State University was one of the first to show how contaminants can disrupt the chemical balance of sea creatures, and that copper levels at just two parts per billion impaired small coho salmons’ sense of smell. “If there are predators around and the fish are not able to response to these danger signals in the water, they would likely be the next snack for these larger predators in the water,” he added. Oceans that are becoming more acidic have the same effect. Research at the University of Washington and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center is the first to show that high levels of carbon dioxide impair the sense of smell in salmon. “We did this study because over the past 10 years there’s been a lot of research coming out of Australia on tropical reef fish and other places in the world looking at the effects of elevated CO2 in fish behavior,” researcher Chase Williams told KBBI in Homer. Williams and his colleagues exposed young coho salmon in tanks for two weeks to different acidity levels from today and predicted at 50 and 100 years out. Ground up fish scales were added to indicate a predator attack, which usually prompts the salmon to hide or swim away. The juvenile cohos exposed to the higher acidity levels did not appear to even detect the smell. The UW team also looked into where in the sensory-neural system the ability to smell erodes, and how it changes fish behavior. “We found that the salmon are still likely still smelling the odors, so there are no changes in the way their nose is detecting them,” Williams said. “But we did pick up changes in the way that their brain was potentially processing those odor signals. So that’s what is likely driving the behavioral changes.” The researchers said they hope their findings on such an iconic fish as Pacific salmon will alert more people to the consequences of carbon emissions being absorbed by our oceans. Fish watch Lots of winter fishing is going on and gearing up across Alaska. Boats have been out in the Gulf and Bering Sea since Jan. 1 targeting cod. Openers for pollock, flounders and various other whitefish kick off on Jan. 20. The snow crab fishery gets going in earnest around this time of year in the Bering Sea. In Southeast Alaska, mostly small boats using jig or hand troll gear are targeting black rockfish and lingcod. Divers are still tapping away on the last bits of Southeast’s 1.7 million-pound sea cucumber quota in just one open region. Divers also are still going down for more than 700,000 pounds of giant geoduck clams. The winter king salmon season for Southeast trollers opened on Oct. 1 and it’s been slow going. Fewer than 6,000 kings have been taken since the fishery opened; the five-year average is closer to 16,000 fish. Based on new treaty agreements with Canada, Southeast’s winter troll catch rate will determine the takes for commercial and sport users this year and that will likely mean more cutbacks. The state also has announced a full closure for king salmon in the Northern Cook Inlet region and Susitna River due to extremely poor returns. Boats at Kodiak, Chignik and the South Alaska Peninsula are fishing for rockfish and a half million pound Tanner crab fishery opened at Kodiak on Jan. 15. Turning to fish meetings, the state Board of Fisheries will meet from Jan. 15-19 in Anchorage to take up more than 60 proposals for Arctic/Yukon/Kuskokwim fish issues. Stakeholders will learn later this month how much halibut will be available for this year’s fishery that begins in March. The International Pacific Halibut Commission will announce the catch numbers and other management updates when it meets Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 in Victoria, British Columbia. Fish and ships While the Trump Administration and some of the nation’s biggest food producers push for industrialized fish farms off the coasts of the U.S., others are taking the technology inside. A German engineering company called Next Generation Cargo is planning to farm Atlantic salmon aboard the world’s largest sailboats by the year 2023. Each of five 540-foot sailboats will be able to produce 5.5 million pounds of salmon per year. Undercurrent News reports that the first vessel — called the Quadriga — is already being built at a Chinese shipyard. The big ship will receive fingerlings from European salmon hatcheries and raise them to harvest size in sea cages contained within the vessel. Because the vessels will sail in international waters, they do not require a license to farm. The Quadriga will operate on solar and wind power and will choose routes which best cater to fish growing. Next Generation also claims the vessels will use controlled feeding and incur “no feed losses” into the ocean. A promotional video describes the Quadriga as a “first in the Ecoliner class,” and says it will include luxury passenger cabins on board. A Norwegian company called Pure Atlantic AS is planning an even bigger fish growing ship measuring 1,600 feet in length. Fish Farming Expert reports it will be powered by wind turbines mounted on the back of the vessel and water will flow through the ship into built-in channels in the fish cages. Both the German and Norwegian companies hope their designs will revolutionize freight and shipping as well as aquaculture. Laine Welch lives in Kodiak. Visit or contact [email protected] for information.

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 13

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union announced four executive level positions within the organization. Wayne Bailey has been selected to fill the new position of executive vice president and chief experience officer. Bailey has more than 25 years of experience with Alaska USA in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as chief lending officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Boulder. Scott Hansen has been selected for the position of chief lending officer. Hansen has more than 40 years of consumer lending and collection experience, and has been with Alaska USA for more than 13 years, most recently as executive director, Consumer Lending. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Utah. Jessica Graham has been promoted to fill the position of chief risk officer, general counsel. Graham has more than 15 years of in-house corporate law experience, most recently as senior vice president, general counsel. Graham also clerked for the Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, holds a degree in law from the Law School of Duke University, and has served on the board of the Alaska Bar Association. Maria Quick has been selected for the position of senior vice president, Accounting and Treasury. Quick has more than 13 years of industry experience, and most recently held the position of manager, Finance and Accounting. Quick is a licensed CPA with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northwest Nazerene University. Legislative advocacy veteran Thor Stacey was named director of National Federation of Independent Businesses Alaska. For the past six years, Thor Stacey has been the director of government affairs for the Alaska Professional Hunters Association and has also led legislative initiatives for Trident Seafoods, Alaska Air Carriers Association, Alaska Wild Sheep Foundation, and IPOP Mining. A lifelong Alaskan, Stacey served in the United States Marine Corps under Col. and Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. A graduate of AJ Diamond High School in Anchorage, he later attended the University of Alaska Southeast to study political science and government, Stacey also studied in the aviation maintenance program of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced the promotion of Helene Bennett to Tribal Operations and Self Governance manager. Bennett previously served as the executive assistant to Tlingit and Haida’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Truitt. In her new role, Bennett will provide administrative support to and oversight of the Tribe’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Self Governance programs, provide support to compact communities in compliance with applicable regulations and fiscal policies, and oversee the day to day administrative functions of the Tribal Operations department. Bennett will also manage all facets of Tribal Assembly in collaboration with the Office of the President. She joined Tlingit and Haida’s workforce full-time in 2010 with the Head Start department, she later transitioned to the Native Lands and Resources Department before accepting a position in Tribal Operations in 2014. Prior to this, Bennett worked for the City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks &Recreation Department and the Juneau Police Department. Perkins Coie announced that Sarah Gillstrom of its Anchorage office has been promoted to partner. Gillstrom is a member of Perkins Coie’s Litigation practice. Gillstrom’s practice focuses on construction law and commercial litigation in both federal and state courts. In addition to representing clients in breach-of-contract litigation, she has experience assisting clients — including owners, contractors, and design professionals — in construction disputes. Gillstrom also drafts and negotiates construction agreements, and represents clients in real estate transactions and litigation.

Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority approves land exchange

JUNEAU (AP) — A state agency plans to swap land in southeast Alaska for federal land that can be developed for timber sales. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board on Jan. 3 approved a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service that will trade 18,000 acres of trust lands for 20,000 acres of federal land, the Juneau Empire reported . The trust lands are scattered throughout southeast Alaska and the exact amount to be traded must be worked out. Wyn Menefee, director of the Trust Authority Land Office, said the land exchange will be the biggest in the trust’s history. The trust was created to provide leadership in services for trust beneficiaries, including Alaskans with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism and traumatic brain injuries. The trust is endowed with about 1 million acres of land. The trust hopes to earn money off its newly acquired lands with timber harvesting. The acreage could yield $40 million to $60 million over the next 20 years, according to the trust. Lands received by the U.S. Forest Service will be protected under terms of the trade, Menefee said. The overall aim is to protect “viewsheds” while logging less-sensitive lands to earn money for the trust. The trust will give up nearly 2,700 acres of land on Douglas Island that includes the Mount Bradley Trail, known locally as the Mount Jumbo Trail. The Forest Service as part of the deal will not allow logging on lands it’s receiving, Menefee said. “The Forest Service won’t be doing any timber cuts on it,” Menefee said. “It will most likely be managed for recreation.” Forest Service representatives could not be reached for comment because of the partial federal government shutdown. The amount of land received by the trust will depend on appraisals. Appraisers have not completed their work. It’s also not clear whether all the land the trust gains will be used for timber, Menefee said. If there are more lucrative uses, trust officials will consider them. “Timber harvest is one of the primary ways that the trust can monetize its assets but other potential revenue generation options will always be considered,” Menefee said by email. An initial land exchange is planned for January. A second phase, including the parcel on Douglas Island, is planned for 2020. The board’s approval was one of the last steps in a process that has taken more than a decade. The exchange required both state and federal legislation. President Donald Trump signed a federal bill into law in May 2017. Former Gov. Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 88 into law in October 2017. Both bills authorized the exchange. The federal bill states that the primary goals of the exchange are to preserve the natural beauty of Southeast while creating jobs and serving the goals of the trust. Menefee said the deal is a “win-win” for the trust and the Forest Service.

Italian major secures full ownership of North Slope field

Italian oil major Eni has reached a deal with Caelus Energy to buy the small independent out of the Oooguruk North Slope field. Eni announced Jan. 3 that it will acquire Caelus’ 70 percent in Oooguruk and take over as operator of the near shore oil development. The deal, for undisclosed terms, will make Eni the sole owner of Oooguruk as the company already holds a 30 percent stake in the field, according to a Jan. 3 release. Oooguruk sits in state waters about 2 miles off the North Slope. Oil production started in 2008 from a manmade island and the small field currently produces about 10,000 barrels per day from 25 production wells, according to Eni. The field also contains 15 gas-water injection wells. A statement from Eni says the company — which also owns 100 percent of the Nikaitchuq field, another small, near shore oil development — will work to synergize operations at the fields. Nikaitchuq’s Spy Island drill site is about eight miles northeast of Oooguruk. Eni plans to drill additional wells at each field to increase oil production by several thousand barrels per day. In late 2017 the company began drilling ultra-long reach angled exploration wells roughly 35,000 feet long from Spy Island to reach targets in its federal leases further offshore. Last August Eni also bought the rights to 124 onshore state leases from Caelus covering about 350,000 acres of exploration acreage on the eastern North Slope. Caelus Energy bought Oooguruk and other Alaska assets for $550 million in cash from Pioneer Natural Resources in a deal announced in late 2013. At the time, Caelus CEO Jim Mussleman said he planned to invest about $1.5 billion in Alaska over the next five to six years. Mussleman and other Caelus officials have said the company came to Alaska in large measure due to the state’s revised oil production tax structure known as SB 21 and the generous but now defunct refundable oil and gas tax credit incentives the state offered to small explorers and producers for working in Alaska. Caelus made national headlines in October 2016 when company leaders announced they had discovered upwards of 6 billion barrels of oil at the remote Smith Bay prospect in shallow, state-owned waters about 125 miles northwest of other Slope oil developments on the edge of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. However, the company has not done any significant work at Smith Bay since. Caelus has also postponed further development of its onshore Nuna oil project near Oooguruk estimated at $1.2 billion, which currently consists of a 22-acre gravel pad. Company leaders have blamed more than $100 million in unpaid state tax credits for hampering Caelus’ ability to further development of its Slope prospects. The company was granted reduced state oil royalty payments at Nuna in January 2015 in exchange for prompt development of the project but the Division of Oil and Gas denied an extension of those terms in April 2016. Caelus Alaska Vice President Pat Foley said in a brief interview that the company has been actively marketing Nuna to potential investors or buyers for a couple years. “We think those (marketing activities) are going to be coming to an end fairly soon,” Foley said. He also said at this point there are no plans for more work to appraise the Smith Bay prospect. “We continue to try to secure funding,” Foley said of Smith Bay. “We’re hopeful that we can conduct more activities but nothing is yet firm.” ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 6

John Novak was appointed as the Anchorage District Attorney. Novak has worked in the Criminal Division of the Department of Law since 1990 and has worked on everything from homicide cases, to handling federal prosecutions as a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney, to advising the Department of Public Safety. Novak’s career has taken him all across the State to prosecute crimes, including Anchorage, Kenai, Palmer, Seward, Bethel, Dillingham, Naknak, and Unalaska. He has also supervised both the drug and violent crimes units during his tenure and pitched in as Acting District Attorney for the Palmer District Attorney’s office. Novak replaces Richard Allen, who has taken a job with the Palmer District Attorney’s office. Col. Torrence Saxe was appointed to serve as the new commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and to serve as the adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard. As commissioner and adjutant general, Saxe will be responsible for nearly 4,400 personnel in four state divisions, and the National Guard, which is organized within the DMVA. DMVA’s divisions include Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Veterans Affairs, Alaska Military Youth Academy, Air and Army National Guard, Naval Militia, State Defense Force and Administrative Services. Saxe most recently served as commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, presiding over 2,300 Air Guardsmen in the Joint Forces Headquarters Air staff and two wings, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. LifeMed Alaska, an Alaska-based ground and air ambulance service with base locations in Anchorage, Bethel, Dutch Harbor, Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer and Soldotna, announced that Russell L. Edwards has joined the company as CEO. As a former Army MEDEVAC pilot and Alaska Air National Guard rescue helicopter pilot with the 210th Rescue Squadron, Edwards has led teams in the safe and effective conduct of flight operations that resulted in safe evacuation of hundreds in Alaska, the Lower 48, and during multiple overseas deployments. His comprehensive understanding and application of pertinent military and civilian regulations, crew resource management, and team leadership has resulted in multiple awards for rescue operations, including an Air Medal for Heroism for leading a flight of two HH-60s in the rescue of a wounded Special Forces officer in the mountains of Afghanistan. Edwards will retire from the Alaska Air National Guard in the fall of 2019 as a lieutenant colonel.

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 30

Bering Straits Native Corp. announced two promotions within the company’s senior management team. Krystal Nelson was promoted to senior vice president/chief operating officer and Dan Graham was promoted to senior vice president. Nelson joined BSNC in 2014 following a successful 18-year career working in public and private business sectors managing federal, state and municipal contracts. Her experience includes management of multi-million dollar programs and projects, union negotiations and managing more than 1,200 personnel. Graham joined BSNC in 2014 after nearly 20 years managing projects for the public and private sector in construction, remediation and service work. His background includes management and operational responsibility for large multi-million dollar international programs, implementing strategic plans and policies and facilitating corporate marketing and business development. PDC Engineers announced several promotions. Utilities Market Sector lead Karen Brady was promoted to the position of principal engineer. She has been with PDC for 17 years. Angela Smith, lead engineer of PDC’s Aviation group (within the firm’s Transportation Market Sector), has been promoted to the position of senior associate. Smith has 17 years of industry experience and has been with PDC for two of those years. PDC Business Development Director and Planner Pat Cotter was promoted to the position of senior associate. Cotter has been with PDC Engineers for nine years and has served as an associate for the past six years. He leads the firm’s planning group in its Land Development Services Market Sector and has filled the role of Business Development director for the past two years. As a key leader in PDC’s Highway group within its Transportation Market Sector, Anne Nelson has been promoted to the position of associate. Nelson has worked with PDC for 12 years as a civil engineer and has earned her PE while at the firm. Kevin Puustinen, a senior civil engineer in PDC’s Utilities Market Sector, has been promoted to the position of associate. Puustinen has had his professional engineering license since 2010 and has performed and managed civil engineering design and construction assignments throughout Southeast Alaska. He also serves on PDC’s Operations committee. Randy Williams has been promoted to the position of associate. Williams joined PDC in 2015 as a senior mechanical engineer and commissioning agent and has been the lead mechanical engineer on several projects and the project manager for other multi-discipline work.

Draft EIS released for ANWR lease sale

Alaskans got their first look at what oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might look like exactly one year to the day after Congress ordered the Trump administration to start leasing portions of its coastal plain. On Dec. 20 the Bureau of Land Management released the draft version of the environmental impact statement that will inform what areas of the roughly 1.5 million-acre coastal plain are open to oil and gas leasing and what other sideboards that should be put on oil exploration in the area. The ANWR rider to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed last December directs the Interior Department to hold two oil and gas lease sales, each covering at least 400,000 acres of the coastal plain before 2025. It limits permanent development to 2,000 acres of federal land. The Alaska Native village corporation Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. also owns about 92,000 acres around the coastal village of Kaktovik within the refuge, land that would also be open to development. The draft EIS offers three leasing scenarios with varying limitations on available acreage and activity timing intended to account for wildlife migrations and local subsistence activities. The 756-page, two-volume document also includes a “no action” alternative — a part of all environmental impact statements — as a baseline to compare other options against but Assistant Interior Secretary Joe Balash noted in a call with reporters the no action option won’t be chosen because the law mandates lease sales be held. Balash stressed that the input of residents from villages that use the refuge played a big role in how the leasing alternatives were formed, including input from Gwich’in Tribe members who rely on the Porcupine caribou herd as a primary food source and strongly oppose the industry activity. The eastern Alaska-western Canada caribou use large swaths of the coastal plain as calving grounds and what impact oil development could have on the herd has been a primary debate point in the battle over ANWR oil exploration. Exactly how long it will take to finalize the coastal plain EIS is unclear; however, Interior leaders expect to hold the first lease sale sometime in 2019. A 45-day public comment period on the draft is scheduled to commence Dec. 28 when the document is published in the Federal Register. The members of Alaska’s congressional delegation and Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy praised BLM’s work in formal statements. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan said they appreciate the diligence with which the agency built the first draft of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS. “I am particularly pleased to see the serious and necessary considerations for the Porcupine caribou that migrate through the region, as well as the abundant level of stakeholder input — including from the Alaska Natives in the area, the vast majority of whom support responsible drilling in the 1002 (coastal plain),” Sullivan said. “This draft EIS brings us that much closer to unleashing America’s energy potential, filling up the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, boosting our economy, and providing good jobs for Alaskans, all while protecting the ecosystem in ANWR’s 1002 as we’ve done on the rest of Alaska’s North Slope for over 40 years.” The coastal plain has also been dubbed the “1002 area” for Section 1002 of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which carved out the potential for industry development in the otherwise off-limits 19 million-acre refuge. Dunleavy said the document “is a significant milestone in Alaska’s long journey to responsibly explore and develop the 1002 area in ANWR. The potential oil discovered will spur new jobs and investments for generations to come, extending the life of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.” The least restrictive to development, Alternative B would open the entire 1.5 million acres to leasing. Industry activity restrictions during the Porcupine herd’s May-June calving season would apply to about 585,000 acres mostly in the eastern portion of the coastal plain. Another 360,000 acres — mostly along the coast and major river corridors — would be leasable but with a “no surface occupancy” stipulation prohibiting construction of permanent facilities there. Activity restrictions along the rivers and coast are a theme in all the leasing scenarios. The remaining 618,000 acres would be open to leasing under the program’s general conditions. The Central Arctic caribou typically migrates into the western half of the coastal plain in July and August but calving takes place mostly on state land just to the west of the refuge, according to the EIS. Alternative C would also open the entirety of the coastal plain for leasing but place the no surface occupancy restriction over more than 930,000 acres including the caribou calving area and major river corridors. Timing limitations on industrial activity would be put on another 317,000 acres and about 314,000 acres would be open with general conditions. Finally, Alternative D would place the most restrictions on development activity in order to protect biological and ecological resources, the EIS states. A little more than 1 million acres would be available for leasing; however, permanent oil and gas facilities would be prohibited over 708,000 acres and another 124,000 acres would have other use restrictions. Sub-options to Alternative D would have the remaining roughly 204,000 acres either be open with general conditions or open with timing limitations. Approximately 530,000 acres of primarily Porcupine herd calving grounds would be off-limits to leasing under Alternative D. Exactly what level of interest industry will have in the coastal plain leases is also unknown. The most recent U.S. Geological Survey assessment of the oil and gas underneath the coastal plain, done in 1998, put the mean oil estimate at 7.6 billion barrels for the coastal plain-1002 area. The USGS additionally estimated there is a 5 percent probability the area holds nearly 12 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, which says noting of the economics of extracting it. SAExploration Inc. has a 3-D seismic survey plan for the coastal plain before Interior officials, but whether or not the plan will be approved in time for work this winter is up in the air. Balash said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the seismic plan for how the work could impact denning polar bears. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 23

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center added Dr. Michelle Oakley to its animal care staff. Oakley will perform veterinary duties including diagnosis, assisting in treatments, and researching medical conditions of AWCC’s resident animals. Oakley joined AWCC with 18 years of experience as a veterinarian, having previously worked at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and the Calgary Zoo. She has been the star of the popular reality TV show “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet” and has been a visiting veterinarian at AWCC for several years. GCI, Alaska’s largest technology company, recently promoted Heather Handyside to vice president of Corporate Communications and Community Engagement within the company’s Legal and Policy Department. Handyside, who joined GCI in 2015, will continue to serve as the company’s primary spokesperson. Handyside will continue to work closely with the GCI Marketing team to coordinate the company’s philanthropy and volunteer programs, which donates more than $2 million to Alaska organizations each year and provides more than 32,000 hours of paid volunteer time annually to its 2,200 employees statewide. Handyside brings 20 years of government, non-profit and private sector communications experience into her new position. Alex Hofeling has been selected as the next vice president and general manager for TOTE Maritime’s Alaska office and operations. In this role, Hofeling will oversee both the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices. Hofeling has been with TOTE Maritime since September 2013. He began his time with TOTE as a regional sales manager and was promoted to director of marketing in 2016. Before TOTE, Hofeling worked for Coastal Transportation and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. Hofeling will be the face of TOTE in Alaska and work closely with the Port of Alaska, labor partners, customers and community partners. Hofeling will succeed Grace Greene who was promoted to President of TOTE Maritime Alaska in August 2018. In recognition of his extraordinary efforts to support Alaska’s non-profit community, the Alaska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has named GCI Senior Vice President of Consumer Services Paul Landes as the organization’s 2018 Outstanding Philanthropist. The Outstanding Philanthropist award is “presented to the individual or family who has demonstrated exceptional civic responsibility by providing ongoing and major financial support, together with effective leadership, to community-wide major fundraising projects,” according to the AFP Alaska Chapter. While Landes has a history of dedicated service to organizations that support Alaskans, his selfless commitment to the non-profit community this year has eclipsed all of his previous efforts. Since the death of Jim Balamaci in early 2018, Landes has helped launch a $2 million endowment supporting Special Olympics Alaska, where Balamaci served as president and CEO. Also with his leadership, dozens of business executives and the community at-large came together to raise more than $1 million at the Covenant House Alaska Sleep Out. GCI donates more than $2 million to Alaska organizations each year and provides more than 32,000 hours of paid volunteer time to its 2,200 employees statewide.


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