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Morning Headlamp – Alaska Attorney General Confirmation Tangled Up

Klutina Lake Road access


Ombudsman termed out. The state Legislature is recruiting a replacement for Linda Lord-Jenkins, Alaska’s ombudsman, with a selection committee co-chaired by Sen. Anna MacKinnon, R-Eagle River, and Rep. Sam Kito III, D-Juneau. The ombudsman's office is charged with investigating complaints about state agencies and workers. Its most recent publicly available report, dated Dec. 30, 2015, says the office handled 1,610 complaints in 2014. The office has 10 employees and a $1.2 million budget,
Fight over access gets serious. A rough road leading to a remote lake near Copper Center is at the center of a potential legal settlement which has inflamed Alaska's battle over public access and Alaska Native lands, and even impacted a confirmation hearing at the Alaska Capitol. The Alaska Department of Law earlier this month announced final settlement negotiations were proceeding on a 2008 lawsuit filed by Ahtna Inc. that seeks to remove state authority over the Klutina Lake Road. The road is one of many the state claims under a federal law dealing with unreserved federal public land. If Ahtna prevails, the federal government would take over on behalf of Ahtna. The person leading the settlement talks — Attorney General nominee Jahna Lindemuth, a former private-practice attorney appointed in June by Gov. Bill Walker — was pilloried by some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during a confirmation hearing last week. "I need a bunch of answers on R.S. 2477 before I will recommend that your name be forwarded," Sen. Kelly said during Wednesday's hearing. Sen. Mia Costello, R-Anchorage, told Lindemuth that Costello's former employer, the late Gov. Wally Hickel, "would have fought the federal government to the last minute." Lindemuth's confirmation was delayed until another hearing.
Hilcorp in Cook Inlet. President of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association Kara Moriarity penned an op-ed in the Alaska Dispatch News which pointed out that since Hilcorp discovered and reported the leak in the Cook Inlet, the company has been working closely with environmental experts and consultants in close coordination with regulators to shut in the leak in a safe and expedient fashion. Additionally, methane gas is not classified as a pollutant to the environment by either state or federal agencies, and given the volume of the leak, environmental experts have concluded that the potential impact to marine life is minimal.
Trump going all in on oil. The Trump administration’s plan to slash corporate tax rates could free up more than $10 billion a year for U.S. oil explorers, opening new opportunities to boost drilling at a time of uncertainty in the marketplace.
With news like this Headlamp’s excitement is growing in anticipation of policies the Trump administration will put forth to unlock Alaska’s vast quantities of natural resources.
First Reads
Alaska Dispatch News, Zaz Hollander, March 14, 2017
Alaska Dispatch News, Nathaniel Herz, March 14, 2017
Alaska Dispatch News, Kara Moriarity, March 14, 2017
Bloomberg, Joe Carroll, March 14, 2017
Bloomberg, Atle Staalesen, March 14, 2017

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