Archive for the ‘administrative state’ Tag

House to use post office cuts to fund highway bill | TheHill   Leave a comment

House to use post office cuts to fund highway bill | TheHill.

This is an example of the sorts of trade-offs that Congress will need to make if the federal government is going to remain solvent and, hopefully, return to sustainability. In order to do that, the budget needs to be reduced by at least one-third. To have a truly healthy economy, it needs to be reduced by one-half to two-thirds, but let’s start with baby steps.

It’s unfortunate the Saturday delivery of mail had to be sacrificed, but something has to be and Saturday delivery won’t happen if roads aren’t maintained.

The world is not ending, Congress is no more inept than it is at everything else and maybe this would be a good opportunity to point out that there are private carriers that deliver packages on Saturday and the rest of the days of the week as well. Maybe they could deliver envelopes too and ….

Oops, I just touched the third-rail of the administrative state … thou shalt not suggest that mail could be delivered by anyone other than the United States Post Office.

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK   Leave a comment

Pebble cites EPA emails in claim assessment was biased – Alaska Journal of Commerce – May Issue 3 2014 – Anchorage, AK.

For the record, I support Bristol Bay fishing as well as Pebble Mine. I do not believe they are mutually exclusive. Until the full environmental assessment is done on Pebble there is no reason to suppose that the mine is a danger to the fishery. The end of this article tries to boost the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. I do not argue with the numbers, but add to them so that readers can understand why Alaskans should support Pebble and not be in a lather about Bristol Bay fishing. It does not provide that many jobs for Alaskans. The majority of the permits are let to West Coast outfits.

From the 2013 Bristol Bay Economic Report, authored by the Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska-Anchorage:

  • About one-third of Bristol Bay fishermen and two-thirds of Bristol Bay processing workers live in West Coast states (not Alaska).
  • Almost all major Bristol Bay processing companies are based in Seattle (not Alaska).
  • Most of the supplies and services used in fishing and processing are purchased in Washington state (not Alaska).
  • Significant secondary processing of Bristol Bay salmon products occurs in Washington and Oregon (not Alaska).

There are about 3000 seasonal jobs created in Alaska by the Bristol Bay fisheries. Unfortunately, many of these workers are from other states because the Seattle-based boat captains and processors put the call out at the University of Washington rather than University of Alaska-Fairbanks. I tried for three years in a row to get a job on a processor back in college and never even got a call back. Meanwhile, I had three cousins out of Seattle working in Bethel. My daughter tried a couple of years ago and was told by State employment that she had to go to a website and compete with out-of-state workers.

There will be at least 1000 year-round  jobs created in Alaska by Pebble. Year-round means Alaskan-based. Alaskan-based workers spend their money in Alaska, not Seattle.

Opinion: The artificial life cycle of economic growth | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Opinion: The artificial life cycle of economic growth | Juneau Empire – Alaskas Capital City Online Newspaper.

A great explanation of the poisonous nature of the administrative state, that once again (as Moniak has done for me in the past) come to the wrong conclusions. Public bureaucracy is not a natural phenomenon of private sector growth. The United States economy grew by leaps and bounds throughout the 19th century without growing an enormous bureaucracy. Something fundamental changed when Woodrow Wilson separated the bureaucracy that is needed in any government from the political process. The administrative state, a permanent “shadow government” of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats was born and that has not been a good thing for the United States nor will it be a good thing for Alaska.

Rep. Young blasts regulatory sprawl during Fairbanks visit – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News   Leave a comment

Rep. Young blasts regulatory sprawl during Fairbanks visit – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Local News.

I’m still voting against him in the primary because I think he should retire, but it’s hard not to like Alaska Representative Don Young!

Keep the court records open: Senate Bill 108 would seal files, harming public knowledge of official actions – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials   Leave a comment

Keep the court records open: Senate Bill 108 would seal files, harming public knowledge of official actions – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

I applaud the Alaska Senate for returning to the US Constitution and think the editor who wrote this should be charged with something he did not do and then acquitted, so he too can be denied employment and home rental and wonder why certain children in the neighborhood aren’t allowed to play with his kids.

Because Alaska’s public records are online, they are a go-to source for many in the community for a down-and-dirty background check. The problem is that most of the public are not all that smart. They can’t distinguish between “charged with a crime” and “convicted of a crime”.

I have a friend who was accused of domestic abuse by her mother-in-law. She went through a court proceeding and a judge ruled that she had not abused or neglected her mother-in-law. The old lady was delusional. That non-crime is still on her record, still available for viewing by the public, and it has affected her.

First, there is the embarrassment of having her name on a criminal court list, even though she did nothing wrong. But there’s also a curious federal law that forever brands her a batterer even though she didn’t in fact do the deed. Because she was ACCUSED of domestic battery, she can’t buy a gun through a gun shop. That’s not a huge problem in Alaska where used guns are sold back and forth all the time in the private market, but if she ever wants to buy a new gun, she’ll have to use a straw purchaser.

She did nothing wrong. She broke no laws. She was deemed by a court of law to be not guilty. She retains her right to own a firearm, but because of a poorly-written law, she can’t shop in a certain store for a certain item.

As I said, the editor should go through it and then see if he changes his mind.

His excuse is that the public has a right to know about the charges when someone decides to run for election. Why? If the charges were dropped or the person was found not, then the jury system worked and it is none of the public’s business. We have got to get away from the stupidity in this country that claims a charge is as good as a conviction. While we’re at it, let’s get over the idea that because someone has been convicted of a crime they are forever more an untouchable, unable to get employment they are otherwise qualified for and unable to rent housing. It gives us a very convenient way to make serfs who can work in the shadow economy, but it is an evil in a society that claims it is built around the equality of all individuals.

A different route for export of Alaska’s natural gas – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives   Leave a comment

A different route for export of Alaska’s natural gas – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Community Perspectives.

For the record, I think this is a crazy idea because it is not taking into account that the current warming trend is a natural trend. Alaska’s north coast (as Mr. Fields calls it) will be socked in with ice most of the year again — maybe not for a century or maybe in a year or two. Then Alaskans will look a lot like the Vikings who farmed southern Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period only to die of starvation in the Little Ice Age that followed.

This idea was floated as an alternative to the TransAlaska Pipeline, btw. Back then, the need for ice-breakers showed how ridiculous the idea was. Today, it’s tempting … but the climate is only temporarily warming, so ….

Let’s use our heads!

Alaska needs the gas instate and trucking is expensive. The LNG trucking project Golden Valley Electrical Association is planning will reduce my $200 a month electric bill by 6% (estimated). It will put about 50 additional trucks on the Dalton a day, but at that rate it will do nothing for my heating bill.  If they triple the number of trucks, they can heat my home at just about the price I currently pay for diesel. How does that help me? Trucking LNG is a short-term bandaid solution to the problem. Mr. Fields would know that if he didn’t live in the Anchorage Bowl where a sweetheart deal with the natural gas producers of Cook Inlet has given residents a false sense of how much energy actually costs in the rest of the state. We need a gas line to make it affordable — at least to Fairbanks. We could save a lot of money by not taking it Anchorage, but then Anchorage would never let the funding through the Legislature if they were not included.

Mitsubishi offered to build a pipeline for us back in the Palin era, Prudhoe to Valdez, with takeouts for instate use, but primarily for export to Japan. They ended up building a similar pipeline in Japan because Palin was set on the Trans-Canada line and then Parnell was in the pockets of the oil producers. The market is there.

I do agree however that we should deep-six the Trans-Canada deal. They’ve had plenty of time to do what they said they were going to do. Clearly they aren’t going to do it. Why should they when US shale gas as made export to the US fiscally unsound. That doesn’t affect the Asia markets. If we would take the hit with TransCanada and commit to building the gasline whether to Nikiski or Valdez (Valdez being the better choice because it provides gas to a wider region), we could have it built in two years. By 2017 or 2018, gas could be flowing to our homes and businesses here in the Interior and elsewhere in the state and being shipped to the Asian markets (if the federal government would give us a Jones Act waiver).

But building a pipeline and port facility on the north coast of Alaska … how does that help Alaskans? It helps our government, but that’s not necessarily the same thing.

Opinion: Measuring ‘the road’s’ value without subsidies | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper   Leave a comment

Opinion: Measuring ‘the road’s’ value without subsidies | Juneau Empire – Alaska’s Capital City Online Newspaper.

Ranch Might Have Been US “Tahrir” Square   Leave a comment

Cliven Bundy speaks

I wasn’t available for comment this weekend, but the Bundy Ranch “stand-off” got my attention. I hope it got a whole lot of people’s attention.

Remember, I’m from Alaska. I’ve lived through some of the arbitrary federal rule-making that Mr. Bundy has had to deal with, so my perspective is from experience, not just vague knowledge like some people.

Thirty years ago, Alaska faced a similar show-down and we lost. Miners and homesteaders were told to follow rules that couldn’t be reconciled with good sense. They jumped through hoops. They did the best they could and still it wasn’t enough. It still isn’t enough. Small family mines closed, trappers gave up, farms went fallow. The Yukon River villages went lonesome. Thirty years ago, the only people who cared were other Alaskans and we couldn’t grab a microphone big enough to be heard on the national stage. Mr. Bundy and his neighbors were going through a similar set of circumstances and they got enough attention to get a name — the Sagebrush Rebellion — but not enough to change anything. Here in Alaska Joe Vogler managed to get on the docket to speak before the United Nations … and then was murdered a week before he was to go there.

Liberal presidents, conservative presidents — the wheels of destruction continued rolling forward at varying paces until the Obama Administration ramped up administrative fights into police and military battles. The miners of Eagle faced a similar government brown-shirt raid last year.

This time, though, something happened. The Obama Administration didn’t want to be seen as the American equivalent of Mubarek in Egypt so it backed down. That doesn’t mean the fight is over. It does mean we may finally have reached a tipping point. Instead of Ruby Ridge and Waco, we now have the Bundy Ranch, where for a brief shining moment, the American people made the federal government back down.

What’s next?

Nevada Rancher Highlights Larger Issue   Leave a comment

Cliven Bundy’s fight with the federal government over his cattle grazing on public lands highlights a much larger issue than one Nevada cattle rancher and a bunch of beefs.

The federal government (illegally) claims ownership of 80% of the land in Nevada and substantial portions of most other western states. They have all sorts of arguments for why this is a good idea, but rancher Bundy shows why it isn’t. Like Alaska, when Nevada became a state, the citizens living there were promised that they would have access to the lands controlled by the federal government. Bundy’s family built their ranch with that contract in mind. They thought they were dealing with themselves. They thought if the federal government ever let the land for private sale, they would be given the option to buy it.

How do I know that? My grandfather and his brothers owned homesteaded land next to open grazing land in the Dakotas. My grandfather was a farmer with a small herd of dairy cows, so his use of open range was limited, but his brothers made wide use of it to build up cattle herds. There were ranchers in that area who had created a cooperative for the purpose of purchasing that land to continue as open range if the opportunity came about. Private cooperative ownership was what they expected, although I’m sure there were rich ranchers in other communities who thought they would buy the land for themselves.

Most of that area of the Dakotas is now locked up or requires expensive grazing fees. Yet the ranchers remember the promises. As Alaskans remember the promise that we would have access to the federal lands here in our state. Alaska actually had that in writing until the Statehood Compact was passed and then kept from us until after the plebiscite.

The ranchers and Alaskans thought they were dealing with their own government — their servant, not their master.

The federal government has replaced King George!

What are we going to do about it?

Gov Parnell Invokes RS 2477 in King Cove Road Controversy   Leave a comment

Why Alaska’s governor plans to use a 150-year-old law to sue the federal government

Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Photo by Kristine Sowl, USFWS,

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell announced Monday that the state plans to sue the federal government over a road, and he plans to use a 150-year-old law to do it.

Residents of King Cove — population 892 — say they need a one-lane gravel road to connect with Cold Bay, a city less than 30 miles away as the crow flies but separated by a famous wildlife refuge. Frequent bad weather often makes flying unfeasible, so the village needs access to Cold Bay’s larger airstrip for emergencies, residents argue. But wildlife advocates say it would hurt what is a world-class habitat—the 315,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, home to virtually the entire population of the Pacific black brant as well as other types of birds.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has over several decades argued that such a road would cause “irreversible’ damage to the habitat and reaffirmed that belief most recently in February. Still, some of the residents were in D.C. last month to make their case to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. She stood by the department’s decision not to allow the road, prompting Parnell’s threat of a lawsuit.

“In just the last several weeks, serious health-related evacuations have shown just how critical a road for medical evacuations is for residents,” he said in his  statement Monday, officially providing a 180-day notice of the state’s intent to sue. The suit rests on a 148-year-old mining regulation: Revised Statute 2477 of the Mining Act of 1866. The controversial law was created to promote development of the West, according to a Bureau of Land Management fact sheet.

Black brant over Izembek Lagoon (Izembek National Wildlife Refuge). Photo by K.Mueller/USFWS

It “minimized the administrative burden on the federal government to authorize the construction of each highway across the largely undeveloped lands in the West. However, while the law accomplished its goal of facilitating development of the West, the general wording is a source of disagreement and controversy.”

Revised Statute 2477, which has been interpreted as granting authority to establish roads where informal routes existed, has been a source of controversy for years despite being just 20 words long. (It states: “The right-of-way for the construction of highways over public lands, not reserved for public uses, is hereby granted.”) The statute was repealed in 1976, but the law’s protections were preserved for routes that existed before then.

In a 1993 report, the Interior Department found that most of the controversy arising from the grandfathered protection to that point had come from Utah, but Alaska was also singled out for its unique reliance on R.S. 2477. It was prompted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service preparing land-use plans for refuges and parks there in the mid-1980s.

The proposed road. (Office of Gov. Sean Parnell)

“This federal action precipitated the State of Alaska’s interest in using R.S. 2477 to obtain rights-of-way over federal lands as state and local government in the Lower 48 States had during their own early developmental periods,” the report’s authors wrote. Some claims have been upheld, but the federal government has refused others. In fact, such a refusal to recognize a right-of-way prompted a separate suit last spring, Alaska’s attorney general wrote in his 2013 review:

In April 2013 we filed a lawsuit against the federal government and others to quiet title to a number of rights-of-way near Chicken, Alaska. Alaska acquired these rights-of-way under Revised Statute 2477, but the federal government fails to recognize that grant and has interfered with Alaskans’ right of access. As a state, it is important that we assert our interest in these vital access routes though much work remains to be done.

Ultimately, the fate of the refuge and the road may rest on the courts—which claimed authority to rule on such claims in a 2005 10th Circuit Court Ruling—and how they interpret a 148-year-old, one-sentence statute.

It said lands not reserved for public use. A national wildlife refuge is “public use”, I believe. Places are usually open to the public, like other national parks.

Instead of hassling the federal government which Republicans have worked to undermine and make sure it doesn’t function at all, how about Alaska help this tiny town build a hospital so that they don’t have to travel far when there’s a serious injury. And if it doesn’t make sense to you to have a hospital that’s closer than 30 miles away in an emergency, then maybe having a new road isn’t your only problem.

Besides, I thought Alaskans were supposed to be so rugged. You don’t need any government roads or roads through government areas. Just cut off the limb or body part and keep on going. Or better yet, join the Iditarod – I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of dogs headed in your general direction at some point.

Wouldn’t the same “bad weather” that makes a helicopter flight impossible make travel over a gravel road impossible?
4/8/2014 6:47 PM GMT-0800 [Edited]
Seriously……? You will never go there, see how the people that live there actually live…you reside in some bubble, burn gasoline, turn lights on & off, turn your heat up when you are cold….yet you don’t want anyone to develop a place you will never see or appreciate…..
3:07 AM GMT-0800
The people you speak of have lived where they live, as they live, for generations. Or they are transplants who chose to move to that isolated post. Why should 850 people have the “right” to endanger the existence of millions of migratory animals on the off chance the one of those people might need an ambulance? Let the State of Alaska purchase airboats to resolve this conflict, or develop alternate means to rescue the injured. A road is not necessary and is not appropriate for a designated wilderness area.
It is hard to understand how a 30 mile dirt road, that would probably get very little traffic, could negatively impact the wildlife in the park.
3:03 AM GMT-0800
Poachers and Native hunting rights. This road wouild gut the preserve and make it meaningless.
Sad to say, ” Fat Chance ” I wish Alaska luck on this. Legislation seems needed to protect your rights.
4/8/2014 1:13 PM GMT-0800
What gives the National (not Federal) government the right to land that was paid for by ALL of the citizens of the US? They don’t own it, the people of the US owns it and some crapola that the government may do to make the land off limits is just that – more piles of uncomposted manure.
4/8/2014 5:10 PM GMT-0800
I also own that land and, if left to people like you, every natural square inch of it would be drilled, fracked and paved over.
10:03 AM GMT-0800
What gives the federal government the right to land paid for by its citizens? I believe that would be the Constitution. Paid for it from Russia with taxpayer money and maintain it with said money, but like with any other federal lands, it manages and owns it (for us). So yes, they do own it. Do you think you *personally* own it?

I think the problem is, a lot of people like you don’t understand how government works. The government pretty much owns all of the land within its borders and whatever land it governs like territories. Eminent domain says so. Banks may hold the deed until you pay off a mortgage on your house, but if the federal government felt it necessary, they could compensate you or the bank and take that land for whatever purpose it deems fit.

Obviously, we get to vote for people who run the government and we pay for maintenance of such lands, so that’s how we control what happens… but other than that, the government owns the land. As you see, even within Alaska, which has a state government, the federal lands are not run by them or owned by them – it’s the federal government that holds this land. They get to decide what happens to it. They must follow what laws are on the books, but use their discretion in deeming fit what purpose the land is used. Obviously, there’s already a use for the land that is observed by the federal government, so this road does not take precedence over that unless they see it as necessary and lawful. They do not.

The Bush Administration has spoiled right-wingers. You believe that our national parks should be paved, drilled, fracked, logged, and mined – because that’s what they allowed. That’s not the purpose of a park. Not local parks, not national parks. The purpose of a park is to just be. It’s supposed to exist for existence sake. 


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