Alaska Journal of Commerce

This editorial first appeared in the Jan. 21 edition of the Alaska Journal of Commerce:

The only thing surprising about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding the Obama administration’s policy of nonenforcement in states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana is how many people acted surprised by it.

A long-awaited and expected announcement came Monday by the U.S. Air Force that two squadrons of F-35 fighters will be deployed to Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.

A total of 54 new aircraft and an estimated 2,765 personnel will be part of the deployment, with construction to begin in fiscal year 2017, which begins Oct. 1.

The two squadrons of F-35s will join the F-16 Aggressor squadron and the 168th Air Refueling Wing currently assigned to Eielson. The first jets are scheduled to arrive in 2020.


Eagle River’s marijuana business restrictions are paying off – if they aimed to zone the industry out of the area entirely.

In January, the Anchorage Assembly passed a handful of zoning restrictions for marijuana businesses throughout the municipality. So far, no marijuana businesses have located suitable addresses to operate in Chugiak or Eagle River.

WASILLA — Southcentral Alaska’s cannabis business just got more concentrated in Anchorage. A big chunk of the Valley, long a byword for marijuana cultivation, is out.

The Wasilla city council voted unanimously on Jan. 25 to ban all commercial marijuana within city limits, further narrowing options for Alaska cannabis industry to enter the newly legal market.

The ban prohibits testing, processing, cultivation, and retail sales within Wasilla city limits, and also expressly prohibits consumption anywhere except a private residence with the owner’s permission.

BP is cutting 4,000 jobs worldwide and some of those reductions will be in Alaska.

An intra-company email obtained by the Journal sent to BP Alaska employees Jan. 12 states that the company plans to reduce its total in state workforce by 13 percent.

All employees should know their status by early spring and the majority of layoffs will be conducted by mid-year, according to the email.

Matanuska Electric Association is questioning the benefits of transferring regional transmission infrastructure to a single utility.

In a Dec. 29 letter to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska chair T.W. Patch, MEA General Manager Joe Griffith cited eight reasons why the Southcentral electric utility believes forming a Railbelt electric transmission company could be unnecessary and possibly add costs to participating utility ratepayers.

The ratchet keeps tightening on Southcentral halibut charter operations, among other groups, and relief measures are still stuck in development.

The level of legally harvestable halibut in the North Pacific has dropped for a decade, and though biologists think the biomass has stabilized, downsized fishermen continue to fight for as much valuable quota as possible. Charter guides who’ve seen their portion drop want a way to buy quota from commercial operators.

In an emergency meeting, the Marijuana Control Board voted unanimously on Dec. 1 to reinstate a stricter residency requirement for marijuana business licensees, following Permanent Fund Dividend rules instead of voter registration rules.

The board also tried to loosen rules to allow more access to Outside money, but public process rules will hold that discussion until the board’s next meeting in February 2016.

The regulatory package will now move to Lt. Gov. Byron Mallot for approval pending a review by the Department of Law to make sure the regulations follow statute.

The fallout from Shell’s decision to stop Arctic Alaska offshore exploration has hit Nome.

The Alaska District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a yearlong pause of the Alaska Deep-Draft Arctic Port System feasibility study Oct. 26 so the project’s economic potential and justification can be revalidated.

In February the Alaska Corps released a draft feasibility report outlining a $210 million plan to dredge Nome’s outer harbor to 28 feet, extend the causeway around the harbor by more than 2,100 feet and build a new large vessel dock.