Alaska Oil and Gas in Cold and Hot Wars

Alaska’s economy has relied upon oil and gas revenues since the 1970s to fund government. Nationalization of ARAMCO by the Saudi government led up to the Arab oil embargo in 1974 fully prompting development of Alaska’s north slope oil fields to relieve gasoline shortages of the 48 states. The state government of Alaska experienced dumb luck financing continuing to this day although state politicians tend toward being clueless on how to diversify or understand reasons why it’s a good idea.

State government hasn’t an income tax to fund government. Historically when one industry funds government budget it also tends to elect industry sycophants who work against diversity and common sense. The phenomenon isn’t so simple now as it was. The economy regarding oil is far more complex than it was in the early 1970s. Politicians may not understand what is good for the state economy in more than one way.

Usually Americans in political circles tend to regard pure greed as the summun bonum or ultimate good that is a bulwark and the sole remedy for communism and all the hateful sharing and caring networking that can follow communist revolution. At least in theory communist dictatorship would result in sharing and caring rather than crass social media censorship and economic marginalization of political dissidents and their nefarious opinions. Well, no matter, the union of communism and corporatism was firmly forming a synthetic economic hybrid before the Ukraine war as Wall Street invested as junior partners in China. Alaskan politicians sought permission to export liquid natural gas and oil to China and other points east instead of just down south to the 49 states that no longer relies on Alaskan oil or gas production because of a global glut of fracking field resurrection of spent oil fields. The U.S. became the largest exporter of oil after fracking.

For a generation in the future Alaskan oil and gas may be superfluous as concerns 48 states consumer demands that are slacked. President Biden recently made an executive regulation that will in effect require more than 50% of new U.S. auto sales to be electric cars within a fairly short time frame- that quickened transition to electric vehicles will also undercut Alaskan oil export sales and royalties to pay for state government. If Canada creates recharging stations along the Alaska Highway- at Burwash Landing Destruction Bay, Beaver Creek, Watson Lake, Fort Nelson etc. electric car sales even in Alaska will increase.

Oil and gas, it’s what Alaska has instead of diversity. It also has a crowed state government city in Juneau located in a region with modestly declining demographics. S.E. Alaska has a great rain forest and wildlife that are endangered from human encroachment and economic development. Affluent nations have myriad new toys and technology that permit increased efficiency in locating, harassing or killing wildlife from game cameras to fish finders and g.p.s. maps. S.E. Alaska is valuable for the world ecosphere (as are Amazonian rain forests) and much political sentiment exists to preserve it intact and free of gross economic devastation as possible. Politicians from around the state make the haj to Juneau every winter to vote to develop more oil and gas before returning home after wringing their hands for some months about the problems funding state government without raiding the Permanent Fund created to share some of the North Slope oil revenues with ordinary citizens.

Recently U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski met with Ukraine President Zelinsky and expressed complete supporter for the war on Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine. The Zelinsky negotiation manifesto was a complete demand for unilateral Russian surrender of all of Ukraine for a peace settlement and perhaps more concessions concerning emasculation of Russian President Vladimir Putin before he is sentenced for war crime. From the point of view of Senator Murkowski, who inherited her first term via appointment from her father the state governor at the time, hostility to Russia is a logical continuation of the U.S. political/military/industrial complex of cold war against the Soviet Union. Her father was a U.S. Senator too when politics were easy. In the 1980s one need vote to increase defense spending and oil and gas development while hating on Russia a.k.a. the Soviet Union. Institutional memories and habits are slow to change if not impossible.

Contemporary Democrat Progressives have occasionally found common cause with Senator Lisa Murkowski as have the modern equivalent of blue dog democrats. In funding the war against Russia sharing its historical lands taken by Germans and Bill Clinton Democrats and Senator Murkowski have in effect created a new bi-partisan political Regressive movement. It is tough to predict if political Regressivism will outlast its founder President Biden if he isn’t re-elected. Yet the new Cold War 2.0 seems strongly supported, as strongly as regressives support increasing public debt. The Regressive movement is convenient for 80 year old Joe Biden who needn’t update his international relations policies from those of 1980.

Super-translational attributes of select physics in regions of comparatively flat space-time would allow clumps of energy mass information to appear in waves dissimilar to those in areas of more space-time curvature with fewer super-translational qualities present. Apparently the two circumstances are mutually exclusive. Peace, prosperity and economic selections are sort of like that too. For the unreflective players in U.S. economics and politics greed is the primary directive in political theory. Like the Harlem Globetrotters, to be in the game a hapless opponent is needed like the Washington Generals to be up on game after game. For American green the opposition is communism. Any mention of negativity to the green alliance immediately encounters the challenge of supporting the communist team. Unfortunately for the restricted logic loop of the pure greed team, there are more economic theories and criticisms than varieties of flowers under the sun that have nothing in common with communism.

The straw man of communism does not make greed the sole alternative nor even a correction choice for adapting the Alaskan and U.S. economies to the present political complex of compresence. The decision to make Ukraine independent instead of Russian was a bad choice made by the greed party, yet it allowed a future cold war and hot war to develop that increased weapons sales from U.S. arms manufacturers. That economic choice was counter-productive in the long run as it harmed the economy of Alaska and the west while halting much environmental support or transitional to ecological economic practices along the Arctic littoral.

Governments and the choice of capital location do influence business, capitalism and additional economic phenomenalities. The question isn’t simply of too little or too much government. The choices of government policy in support for or opposition to various business, demographic and environmental challenges may induct support or opposition from capital. Popular reliance upon concentrated capital or business to determine formation of the political economy and to respond to externalities to business concerning ecosphere such as mass extinction and habitat degradation is grossly incompetent. Reliance on something or someone to find a solution for a problem that it has no interest in or even awareness of isn’t even vaguely rational. Adam Smith never believed that business could replace government. Adam Smith believed that people could conduct their own business best; not those of all the people best, which is the role of government.

I shall digress a little to say that it should have been possible to deescalate not only nuclear weapons supplies globally, it should have been and still is possible to freeze the increase of conventional weapons supplies. An arms race instead of an ecological economics race to transition the world population to sustainable yet progressive economic methods is Counter-productive to the security of prospects for human survival on the planet.

President Reagan’s revolutionary break with Cold War mentality that allowed the conflict to end and peace with Russia to development wasn’t understood or taught in elite political climes. President G.H.W. Bush kind of understood it and continued the plan with a neutrality that wasn’t adverse. However President Bush received a lukewarm reception himself in his own nation. Eventually the magnetic orientation of the eastern establishment in the U.S. resumed its magnetic orientation away from peace with Russia to hostility with the new Russia. The magnetic attraction of the Cold War recurred with a vengeance expanding N.A.T.O. and building up Ukraine.

The Zelinsky Manifesto wasn’t understood by the next-generation cold warrior Senator Lisa Murkowski to be a policy that would be directly harmful to the Alaskan oil and gas funded economy yet it would seem to be. Sanctions and war upon Russia through Ukraine along with a western cap on the sales price of Russian oil and gas forces Russia to sell its oil and gas to China and perhaps India to replace its lost market share to the west. China gains a vast reliable oil and gas supplier in Russia who cannot sell oil on the market to the west. Even Russia’s gas pipelines to Europe halted perhaps permanently. China was Alaska’s preferred destination for its oil and gas.

As it is today with oil and gas prices dropped since fracking started opening the floodgates to a generation of renewal of exhausted oil fields Alaska oil sales to China seem dismal. China would might be unwilling to rely on fossil fuel purchases from Alaska because of the political leverage the west would gain in making China rely on energy from the west. The U.S. government for several years before the Ukraine hot war sought to stop Europe from buying gas and oil from Russia. China is like Europe in that regard. The Zelinsky manifesto and full support by Senator Murkowski stopped dead prospects of substantial Alaska sale of fossil fuels to China. What about Japan?

Japan uses a lot of fossil fuels- even coal- for producing electricity. Surely it will buy liquefied natural gas from Alaska? That probably isn’t a reliable market either. Japanese scientists are some of the world’s best. Japan technologists developed bullet trains before the rest of the world. It isn’t improbable that Japan will develop the first super-conductor power line for a national energy grid. For some time it has been known that a super-conducting power line inside of a pipeline filled with liquid hydrogen is feasible. Especially in a long, narrow nation like Japan building a superconducting power line looping around to power industry, electric cars, homes and businesses is a practical prospect. Power in the line could be input from wind, solar, hydrogen fuel cell, geothermal and other non-polluting technologies; hence Japan might be good for short term sales yet bad for reliable purchases of Alaska fossil fuels even for a generation. Technology and science is evolving too quickly to make Japan a buyer of Alaska fossil fuel regardless of the resolution of the Zelinsky manifesto.

The practical remedy for the Alaska government’s financing issues is a sales tax and relocation of the state capital to Fairbanks. Fairbanks is located near the geographical center of the state. It would well serve diversified business development around the majority of the state coordinating service to the north, south and western coasts as well as the east along the Canadian border. In Juneau, where the capitol is presently located, legislators vote to ask for more oil sales then flee homeward when hordes of tourists from cruise boats arrive in the spring. The capital is located far away from the center of Alaska and its locations of future economic diversification. Juneau was picked for the capitol during the sailing then steamship era when Seattle seemed far away. Most business was done in S.E. Alaska and natural resources harvested were sent to Seattle. So Juneau was a natural location when telephone lines didn’t exist and jet aircraft were not even on the radar screens of science fiction authors. People wanted government located where the action was.

Some say the capital move issue is stare decisis and res judicata. Yet relying upon wrong choices repeatedly still allows a bad choices to remain. One need not repeat bad choices because there is a precedent to do so. Some will also say that Fairbanks is ‘too’ cold. Most Alaska legislators are from places where it is also ‘too cold’. Besides, legislators should just be in the capital a few months before going home. It is probable that there are enough year round bureaucrats and other governments workers that can be recruited from the regions of Alaska that are ‘too cold’ to staff state government if government workers from Juneau that retire to the San Juan Islands or Arizona choose not to go north.

Twenty or thirty years ago Juneau needed government jobs for employment. The cruise industry had not yet developed so well as it has today, and fishing was in steep decline. Frankly, the quality of life in Juneau would improve a few years after the state government left. Housing prices would drop and the homeless housing issue find some relief. An arts and recreation including skying and outdoor activity for tourists could increase. The University of Alaska at Juneau could expand with more housing, buildings and educators and emerge as a go-to college for environmental studies. Tourism from cruise ships and fly in packages increase. More fish growing for harvest could locate in Juneau. I would guess that a couple of years after the state finished relocating to Fairbanks the city of Juneau would recover its population, jobs and develop a far more diversified sustainable economy.

The Zelinsky manifesto brought the end of any chance for resuming abolition of Cold War 1.0. It received complete support from Senator Lisa M. I wonder though if the impact that supporting hostilities with Russia that are likely not to end within a generation will have on the Alaska economy.

Advocates for the return to Cold War relations with Russia tend to say they are fighting against authoritarian while the west is increasingly corporatist with democracy moving toward ostentatious nominalism under the real power of concentrated wealth. They also tend to ignore the fact that Ukraine was part of Russia at least since 1800 until it was wrested away for a time by Nazis and Lenin Retaken by the Soviet Union during the Second World War it was then returning to Russia as well in a real sense; Russia was the core of the Soviet Union. When the west took advantage of the disarray in Russia at the end of the cold war to declare Ukraine independent it laid the foundation for abolishing the peace of the world. A particular kind of willful blindness is required to disregard Russia’s historical claims and lack of legal remedies available from a very biased west. A special kind of blindness is required to fail to find peaceful means to restore good relations with Russia and a better future for an Alaska economy too that doesn’t rely on fossil fuel sales to fund the state government budget.






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