Category Archives: Published Commentaries

With election over, time to realize Alaska faces huge fiscal challenge …

Fiscal CliffMy appreciation to the Alaska Dispatch News for running the following op-ed piece in both its online and print editions (Tuesday, November 18, p. B4), and to the Fairbanks News-Miner for doing the same in both its online and print editions (Wednesday, November 26, p. A8). The piece ran under the headline “Governor-elect will have to cut deep to keep Alaska budget sustainable” (ADN online), “Walker must cut deep to make budget sustainable” (ADN print), and “State entering bleak budget times” (FNM online and print).

Sometimes the buzz created by election campaigns tends to mask what is going on in the “real world.” The most recent Alaska election cycle is a good example. While the Walker and Parnell campaigns debated through the fall about whether the state budget should be cut in the next year by 5 percent, 16 percent or something in between, in the real world state revenues have been plummeting to levels that make those numbers seem like artifacts of ancient history. Continue reading

Keithley lays out Independent Expenditure effort …

Fiscal CliffMy appreciation to the Alaska Dispatch News (here) and Juneau Empire (here) for running the following op-ed piece. Each used different titles.  The title above is the one I used when I wrote and submitted it.  For background, the release announcing my Independent Expenditure effort is here; the candidate questionnaire I sent out this week is here.

BY BRAD KEITHLEY

Earlier this month I announced that I intend to spend up to $200,000 this coming fall in certain key legislative races.  The reason I am doing that is simple. Continue reading

The Legislature should rethink the Governor’s LNG proposal

Compass (2.18.2014)My appreciation to the Anchorage Daily News and Fairbanks News-Miner for running an op-ed piece I wrote.  The links to the online versions are  here (ADN) and here (News-Miner).   I titled the piece “The Legislature should rethink the Governor’s LNG proposal.”  The ADN ran it as “Governor’s plan the wrong way for the state to get a gas line.” 

BY BRAD KEITHLEY

As someone who long has argued in favor of state co-investment in the development of Alaska’s oil and gas resources, I was hopeful last fall when the state released the “Alaska North Slope LNG Royalty Study.”

With references to the need for “alignment” between the state and the industry and analyses of successful projects elsewhere in the world involving state participation, I believed that the Governor potentially was positioning Alaska to play a more active role in the development of its own resources, much in the same way as do some large landholders in the Lower 48 states and other governments that are resource owners.

The “Heads of Agreement” and related legislation (Senate Bill 138) that the Governor introduced at the start of the session, however, fall well short of the mark.  Instead of adopting global best practices taken from successful LNG projects, the Governor’s proposal is a confusing patchwork that is fraught with risk and even if it works perfectly, would not advance the goal of enabling the state to help drive increased activity where Alaska needs it most – in the upstream development of its oil and gas resources. Continue reading

The Monthly Lead: Retaining SB 21 is the right decision, if …

Through last month, I wrote a monthly op-ed column on oil, gas and fiscal policy issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  I have suspended that column while some talk about me running for Governor (ABM’s policy understandably is to discontinue any “writings” by formally announced, or potential candidates).   In the meantime I am continuing to write a lead monthly article for the blog, called “The Monthly Lead.”  This is the first such piece.

Parnell SB 21

With certification this fall by the Division of Elections, the question of whether to repeal Senate Bill (SB) 21 – the oil tax reform enacted and signed by the Governor earlier this year – will be put to a statewide vote next August.  The issue on the ballot will be “Should this law [SB 21] be rejected?”  A “yes” vote will be to repeal SB 21; a “no” vote will be to retain it.

If SB 21 is rejected, Alaska’s oil tax approach will revert to ACES (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share), the state tax policy enacted in 2007, which virtually all legislators last session agreed was in need of reform, although many argued for different approaches.

Retaining SB 21 is the right decision if the Governor and legislature enact needed budget reforms this coming legislative session.  This piece explains why. Continue reading

Sustainable Arctic Oil & Gas Exploration and Development (from the November 2013 Alaska Business Monthly)

Arctic Oil & Gas Basins (Nov 2013 AK Business Monthly)

Arctic oil and natural gas resource basins in the Arctic Circle region (click to enlarge).
Source: US Geological Survey

In addition to pieces on this page and elsewhere, I have been writing a monthly op-ed column on oil, gas and fiscal policy issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  The following piece is the last in that series (at least for awhile), as I go to the bench while some talk about me running for Governor (ABM’s policy understandably is to discontinue any “writings” by formally announced, or potential candidates). This final piece for the ABM was originally published in the November 2013 print edition and is available online here.  In the future I will continue writing a lead monthly article for the blog, called “The Monthly Lead.”

Normally pieces that begin with this title are about the environmental aspects of oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic. This piece isn’t.

Instead, this piece is about the commercial aspects of oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic and near-Arctic, and what economic characteristics make ongoing activity sustainable in some regions and not in others. From my perspective, there is a lesson for Alaska in the results. Continue reading

Why Alaska Needs to Reduce State Spending (and how to do it) (from the October 2013 Alaska Business Monthly)

October 2013 Alaska Business MonthlyIn addition to pieces on this page and elsewhere, I write a monthly op-ed column on oil, gas and fiscal policy issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  The following piece was originally published in the October 2013 print edition and is available online here.

Based on state Office of Management and Budget data, over the last decade annual state government general fund spending—operating and capital combined—has nearly tripled, from roughly $2.3 billion in FY 2004 to a now-projected $7.1 billion for FY 2014.

Over the same period, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has only increased by 27 percent. Continue reading

Morning in Alaska …

Compass (9.8.2013)My appreciation to the Anchorage Daily NewsJuneau Empire and Fairbanks News-Miner for running an op-ed piece I wrote.  The link to the online versions are  here (ADN),  here (Empire) and here (News-Miner).   I titled the piece “Morning in Alaska.”  The ADN ran it as “Alaska spending its way into poorhouse,” which is a quote.  

By BRAD KEITHLEY

During the 1984 campaign, President Reagan’s team ran a 60-second ad that has become an all-time classic. Titled “Morning in America,” the spot focused on America’s sense of renewal during Reagan’s first term. It closed with the line, “Why would we ever want to return to where we were less than four short years ago?”

It is not yet “Morning in Alaska.” In fact, Continue reading

The Alaska OCS and State Fiscal Policy (from the September 2013 Alaska Business Monthly)

September 2013 Alaska Business MonthlyIn addition to pieces on this page and elsewhere, I write what began as a bi-monthly, and now has evolved into a monthly, column on oil, gas and fiscal policy issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  The following piece was originally published in the September 2013 print edition and is available online here.

Sometimes state officials and other proponents argue that oil tax reform is needed to keep the Trans Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) operational “until” oil from Shell Oil Company’s Chukchi Sea or other Alaska Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) projects come online in the 2020s.

The implication is that Continue reading

Alaska Fiscal Policy: Is This Generation of Alaskans Failing the Next? (from the August 2013 Alaska Business Monthly)

August 2013 Alaska Business Monthly

In addition to pieces on this page and elsewhere, I write what began as a bi-monthly, and now has evolved into a monthly, column on oil, gas and fiscal policy issues for the Alaska Business Monthly.  This is the eighth column, originally published in the August 2013 print edition and available online here.

In 1976 Alaskans passed a constitutional amendment establishing the Permanent Fund. The amendment provides in pertinent part that “at least twenty-five percent of all mineral lease rentals, royalties, royalty sale proceeds, federal mineral revenue sharing payments and bonuses received by the State shall be placed in a permanent fund.”

Those here during that period attribute the passage of the amendment to two things. Continue reading

Comment: Rep. Gara’s myopic view

(Reprinted from the Juneau Empire, July 7, 2013)

AN OP-ED BY BRAD KEITHLEY

In a recent My Turn piece (“Answers to questions about the oil tax cut,” June 27, 2013), Rep. Les Gara argues that supporters of SB 21 are “spinning” facts. In fact, Rep. Gara is the one who has gone into full “spin” mode.

The real test of whether a change in tax policy is good or bad is its overall, long term revenue impact, not what it generates in a select number of years. By focusing only on the revenue levels estimated to be produced in the first few years, Rep. Gara argues that SB 21 is failed tax policy, when the full set of facts demonstrates otherwise. Continue reading