Items 6/03

Interesting Items 6/03 -

Howdy all, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –

In this issue:

1. Pebble
2. Lerner
3. Markey
4. ObamaCare
5. Chicago Way
6. Belugas

1. Pebble. The Pebble Partnership released a 69 page analysis of the economic impact of the Pebble Mine project in the Bristol Bay region. You can find a link to the document at the end of the piece. This project, one of many currently in planning, will bring significant jobs into Bristol Bay, significant tax revenue into the Lake and Peninsula Borough, and do so for generations to come. It blows away completely all economic contributions by commercial salmon fishing in the region. From the summary on page iii of the document, during the construction phase, the mine will bring over 4,700 jobs directly to the Bristol Bay region, and do so for the first five years of construction. The analysis suggests creation of another 11,500 jobs in the Lower 48 states. Over the next 25 years, that number of jobs falls to around 2,900 in Alaska and 11,800 in the Lower 48 respectively. Economic impact is significant, with $400 million yearly during the construction phase in Alaska and around $1.2 billion in the Lower 48. These increase in the second phase between $1.1 – 1.4 billion in Alaska and $1.3 billion in the Lower 48 during the next 25 years. State and local tax revenues are estimated at $27 million during construction and around $200 million during the subsequent development phase. Clearly, these are significant numbers. Contrast this with commercial fishing’s contribution to Bristol Bay, where over half of the 2,800 commercial permit holders do not even live in the region, with most of those living out of state. Additionally, most of the support people for commercial fishing come from outside the Lake and Peninsula Borough, meaning that commercial fishing does little for the employment of the 5,400 working age residents of the region. In 2011, just over 63% of the working age population worked in 2011, with just over 35% working all four quarters of that year. This is a standing 35 – 65% unemployment rate in the Land that Always Was. Finally, fishing contributes just over $400,000 of tax revenue to the total yearly tax revenue for the Lake and Peninsula Borough of $1.5 – 2 million annual revenue. Contrast that with the instant influx of $29 – 33 million in yearly severance tax receipts to the Borough, and you get some ideas as to the scope and fiscal impact of this project. And I say it again: This is not the only mine proposed for the region. Clearly the economic and human impact of this project is significant enough to figure out how to do it and do it right. And it will not be all that hard to do, despite the self-serving protests of Bob Gillam, his lackeys at Trout Unlimited, and the fistful of anti-mining green groups that have taken up opposition to Pebble as the latest cause célèbre. Get the greens and the EPA out of the way and build this mine. Start employing the unemployed and bringing product to market. And let the commercial fishery sink or swim on its own merits rather than getting periodically bailed out by Alaskan taxpayers every time the fishery crashes. You can find the report at the link that follows. Hat tip to Super Dave Stieren for pointing out the publication of the report.

2. Lerner. From PowerLine last Thursday a short analysis of why IRS political hack Lois Lerner took the Fifth, refusing to testify before Issa’s Hose subcommittee. As it turns out, Lerner previously responded to questions about IRS harassment of TEA Party and other conservative organizations as long ago as February 2012, when she denied that IRS criteria for dealing with TEA Party and other groups had changed. On April 26, 2012, she gave a detailed description of her procedures, “… carefully avoiding the issue of targeting…” – clearly obstructing Congressional oversight into the activities of her office and her minions. May 2012, she submitted a 90-page defense of IRS questions sent to conservative organizations and demands for them to identify their donors. Lerner has been hiding information from Congress while continuing to harass conservative groups and donors via her position in the IRS. She is not the head of this particular snake, and it should be no surprise that she is refusing to talk. Issa ought to immunize her and force testimony and unravel this all the way to Valerie Jarrett’s rat’s nest in the West Wing of the WH.

3. Markey. One of the real nasty anti-energy congress critters out there has been Edward Markey (D, MA). Deciding that over 37 years infesting the House did not give him a sufficient vehicle to destroy energy production here in the US, Markey is running for US Senate to replace John Kerry, who was appointed as Secretary of State. His opponent is a 40-year old former Navy SEAL named Gabriel Gomez. Markey currently leads Gomez by 12% - 52 – 40% in recent polling. Markey has been at the center of the anti-energy, anti-nuclear, anti-drilling, anti-coal, anti-mining, anti-fracing (anyone else see a common flow here), environmental movement(s). A former aide, Greg Jaczko, was appointed Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and used his office to obstruct, delay, and harass nuclear energy producers and industry for years. In short, Markey is part of the problem of Washington DC rather than the solution, which makes sense as he is also a democrat from MA. Markey was asked on camera last week if in his 37 years in the House he ever opposed a proposed tax increase. And he had no coherent response. Markey is likely to win this particular race, though it is nice that he spent at least a couple minutes on defense during the campaign.

4. ObamaCare. A couple stories about ObamaCare last week were moderately interesting. The first concerns a shakedown effort by HHS Secretary Sibelius, who is making the rounds of corporations regulated by her under the auspices of ObamaCare asking for “donations” (more like protection money) to fund a public relations program selling the glories of ObamaCare to the general public. In true Chicago fashion, one must pay that protection money in order to keep the regulators from using their power to put you out of business. This is the Obama administration. This is the democrat party in 2013 – corruption first, last and always; all in the name of the public good. Second story concerns the ObamaCare Navigators. Basically the Navigators are taxpayer funded people charged with helping the general public wade through the morass of rules and regulations that is ObamaCare. What they really are are taxpayer funded community organizers, trained a little bit and sent out into the communities to take notes, stir up the uninformed, report what they see and hear back to their minders so they can terminate medical care for opponents of the regime. Coming soon to a neighborhood near you.

5. Chicago Way. As we continue down the road toward ObamaCare and view the outrageous actions of the IRS and EPA toward Enemies of the (Left) State, I want to remind everyone what the Chicago Way is all about, as this regime has brought it out of Chicago and installed it as the central operating principle for the federal bureaucracy. As a business, the Chicago Way means that you do not actively oppose anything the Mayor or an Alderman wants done, as the inspectors will show up and you will lose permits, start paying fines for various violations, real or imagined (mostly imagined). The book of rules and regulations is thick not because there are a lot of important things to regulate. It is thick because it is used as a weapon against political opponents. And over time, it grinds all opposition to dust, which keeps the machine in office ad infinitum. Friends of the regime get waivers for whatever they want, as long as the checks keep getting written. Opponents get a lot of “help”, oversight, inspection and supervision. We see the same thing with the IRS scandal, as conservative groups are ignored, slow rolled, threatened, and harassed into oblivion, while every single leftist application sails through uninspected and unimpeded. With ObamaCare, we will see the same thing – care is approved for friends of the regime while the rest of us will be left to the ravages of whatever disease or malady befalls us. I do not think the general public will put up with this for long, and the perpetrators will not do well when the reaction takes place.

6. Belugas. Local greens joined by members of the Alaska Native Village of Chickaloon continue their war against energy exploration and drilling in Cook Inlet. They have been using a series of lawsuits against seismic exploration that is preparatory to drilling for natural gas in the Inlet with the excuse that the endangered population of belugas in Cook Inlet suffers grievous harm due to the exploration. For the record, the only reason the population is endangered is because the National Marine Fisheries Service allowed too many whales to be taken during a wide open whaling season for a couple years in the late 1990s. The feds cause the problem and the rest of us get to clean it up. Last week they got a federal judge to decide that the feds had made mathematical errors in counting the whales, with the end result being yet another restriction on oil and natural gas exploration. The Endangered Species Act is badly broken. It must be fixed. Sooner would be better than later.

More later -

- AG