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We Build Alaska

The Sunday Minefield – October 29, 2023

Halloween is just two days away! Snow is in the forecast for Anchorage but not for another ten days. Governor Mike Dunleavy (R – Alaska) held a press conference this week about incentives for new oil and gas production in Cook Inlet. Alaska Democrats and progressives held a big summit on Friday and Saturday in Anchorage. And Several legislators spent the week in Iceland to learn about their approach to renewable energy.

A friendly message and reminder to all our readers. The Landmine is made possible by myself and a team of awesome Alaskans. I recently got back from Juneau for my fifth session in a row reporting on the Legislature. If you enjoy the content we provide, please consider making a one time or recurring monthly donation. You can click here to donate. We have a donation system that makes it super easy. We would really appreciate it. And thanks to everyone who has been supportive!

Cook Inlet Gas

On Thursday, Governor Dunleavy held a press conference in Anchorage on the Cook Inlet gas supply. He was joined by Mayor Dave Bronson, Natural Resources Commissioner John Boyle, and Deputy Revenue Commissioner Fadil Limani.

There weren’t a lot of details, but he said he plans on introducing a bill next session that will incentivize new oil and gas production in the Cook Inlet. You can watch the press conference here.

Due to a lack of gas production, there is a concern that dwindling supply could require importing LNG in years to come in order to ensure heat and power for homes in Southcentral. There is plenty of gas in Cook Inlet, but demand remains flat, meaning that a big investment from companies to find more may not result in a financial payoff.

We have already spent billions incentivizing exploration in Cook Inlet, which did help in the short term. I think a better subsidy would be to build the in-state gasline from the North Slope. This would provide a long term gas supply for the Interior as well as Southcentral. It will be interesting to see what the Legislature does with this during next year’s session.

Several legislators, along with CEOs of many of Alaska’s railbelt utilities, were in Iceland during the press conference. They were there getting a look at what Iceland is doing with renewable energy. They listened to the press conference at night on a bus riding back from a hydro and geothermal site.

Progressive Summit

Many of Alaska’s Democratic and progressive politicos, elected officials, and consultants attended a summit on Friday and Saturday at the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage. Several people also participated via Zoom.

Topics discussed included their 2024 election strategy, next year’s ballot initiatives, and their common goals. Senator Scott Kawasaki (D – Fairbanks) and Representative Calvin Schrage (I – Anchorage) presented about what is happening in the Legislature. Anchorage Democratic Party Executive Director Lindsay Kavanaugh and their Vice-Chair Jessica Cook presented on what the party is doing. And Alaska AFL-CIO President Joelle Hall, attorney Libby Bakalar, and  Alaska AFL-CIO Political Director Kim Hays presented on ballot initiatives.

The summit was not really publicly promoted, and appeared to be invite only. I spoke with several people who attended. I thought about rolling up on Saturday to see if I could get in, but ended up doing some other work. It did sound like they are optimistic about their chances in next year’s state elections.

Other Happenings

If you have not seen the latest episode of Ask Alaska, check it out here!

Great news! Sources confirm Suzanne Downing is selling Must Read Alaska to Jon Faulkner, the owner of the Lands End Resort in Homer. Apparently she will stick around for a while to help out. Faulkner is an active Republican and big supporter of a full dividend. All I can say is it’s about time and good riddance!

It’s kind of interesting that no one has filed a letter of intent to run for the Legislature since October 7. Only 45 people have filed letters so far. All 40 House seats and ten Senate seats are up next year. Now that campaign contributions are unlimited (a ballot measure next year may change that) there is not as much pressure to file before the end of the year in order to get max donations from the same donor in two calendar years.

This Week’s Loose Unit 

This week it was looking like it was definitely going to be the loose off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who, while apparently high on shrooms, tried to take down a Horizon Airlines flight. I mean that is about as loose as it gets. But a development mid-week made this week’s designee clear. This week’s Loose Unit is John Hendrix,  president and CEO of HEX Cook Inlet, LLC.

Hendrix purchased the Cook Inlet assets of Furie in 2020 out of bankruptcy at a fire sale price. For the last several years he has tried to massively reduce his property tax liability – by around 90% – for the assets he bought. He currently pays around $1.6 million a year, half of which goes to the state and half to the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

He tried through the State Assessment Review Board, twice. Both times was a unanimous no. He tried to solve it politically through Dunleavy’s office and then by getting a bill introduced during session. When neither of those worked, he sued over it. The trial was this summer but a ruling has not been made yet.

Hendrix has consistently said that if he has to keep paying his property taxes he will go under. But just wait.  Check out this recent press release from AIDEA. In the press release, Hendrix says he is doing so well he was able to pay off his AIDEA loan eight months early. Look at that!

Furie even posted about it on LinkedIn. Bitching to everyone and even suing the state over paying property taxes because business is bad, then bragging about paying off a loan early is maximum loose behavior.

If you have a nomination for this week’s Loose Unit, or if you have any political news, stories or gossip (or any old pics of politicians or public officials) please email me at jeff@alaskalandmine.com.

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Dan
6 months ago

If Faulkner manages to turn MRA from what it is today into a responsible and reasonable conservative chamber of commerce aligned voice, it will be an impressive feat.

Faulkner has never struck me as being in favor of the sort of zealotry that Downing has nurtured. It will be tough for him to maintain both his good reputation while pleasing the current MRA audience.

Good luck to him.

I Want My Ivermectin !
6 months ago
Reply to  Dan

The MRA audience : Old, white, racist, limp-dicked, shut-in on a fixed pension all ginned up on hate and vitriol who believes that Donald Trump is the second coming of Jesus Christ and Jamie Allard should be our next Governor.

TheDudeAbides
6 months ago

Please be more sensitive. Rep. McCabe has very thin skin.