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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Casey Jones & LNG


Now I have blog-bloated many times on the “Sense of Congress”, as it finds meaning that justifies the continuation of the “American Spirit”. Like “Made in America” requirements for projects that are funded by Uncle Sam or under the jurisdiction of Federal oversight. The Alaska Railroad is defined by that criteria, as somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the Bill Sheffield “Bleeding Nose” enterprise is funded by the U.S. Taxpayers – in the tune of $40-million bucks each and every year since Don Young has been associated with a “Don Nothing Congress”. Say what? Anyway, the Alaska Railroad is now involved with a project to haul Cook Inlet “LNG” to Fairbanks. Here we go again, high on kochaine! See, the ARMY is about to close down Ft. Wainwright as is the USAF ready to call in the wrecking ball for Eielson, due “AIR QUALITY” that is killing people and with that not interested in entertaining any future health deteriorating lawsuits from troops stationed in that pollution – just shut it down. If kids can't play outside, why raise a family anywhere close to the wood smoke filth? So “UNHEALTHY”: People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. In fact a base down in Utah has invited the ARMY to transfer some of the Fairbanks based troops, with incentives of free-housing and other perks, based on the “Air Quality” alerts that come across the wire from Alaska. A powerful Utah senator has sniffed the air and has been following the lawsuits with Doyon Utilities over its botched military “Privatization” contracts! So an attempt to bring in cleaner energy is front and center the newly elected Walker administration – which is also looking at doom & gloom with the budget now that oil prices have collapsed. Look, when someone in Juneau mentions “Deficit”, it is just an excuse to raid the $51-Billion “Reserve”. And it should be “raided”, in efforts to get natural gas where it is needed – by pipeline from up north to the interior. To hell with “Exporting”! We have a serious problem with a simple solution! Anyway, good thing it's Walker over..she already quit? Anyway, since we shy away from “simple” solutions, the rail is interested in hauling upwards 9-flatbeds each day back and forth to bring that much needed “Clean” energy to the interior, with specially designed ISO cans – actually “Big Bombs”! I guess we will build a “bomb shelter” in Denali Park, to protect the tourists when the choo-choo comes through the depot! And you thought truck transportation was costly? Driving time from Pt. McKenzie to Fairbanks with a single driver: 6-hours. OK, time wise is no comparison, but the cost of the narrow-minded-gauge is, well cost prohibited. OK, maybe Casey Jones can make a deal and allow a “Transport Credit” as it does to the Koch Brothers, maybe Joe, but due non-transparency I have no idea what corporation may be getting a tax-break! Here is what I don't get, as it is another “simple” thing. The wind turbine project was a great achievement and success story for the “Fire Island” investment. But when CIRI wanted to build more, in efforts to double the power generation capabilities with renewable energy, well no buyers? See, build the damn turbine towers and then “wheel” that electricity over the “Rail-belt Grid” to at least Ft. Wainwright and then the coal fired pig furnaces can be shut-down! Phase II of that “wind driven” project could eliminate a large amount of PM-2.5 in the air. In fact, there may be enough “extra” electricity from wind to power EAFB! But when you cut the fat-heads out of the lucrative picture – like GVEA – well that means a decrease in revenues which amounts to a decrease in CEO and executive branch salaries. It follows that Viagra formula, an erection lasting longer then 4-hours during that yearly performance appraisal counts. So, “I like my lifestyle because I can get out of Dodge on the weekends and don't give a rat's ass about air pollution.” And so what if Joe Uselessbelli goes broke because of “Being Green”! Anyhay, the railroad boss is passing the buck to AIDEA, which may soon own the natural gas transportation and distribution infrastructure that has been owned by Fairbanks Natural Gas and been a bone of contention, well since it first started shipping “LNG” via truck to the interior. And FNG is owned by a Texas outfit called Pentex – that has very little transparency or track record or paper trail – which leads me to believe the owners supported Dan Sullivan, as 85% of the senator's votes came from outsiders. Why in hell is AIDEA – a state run “Corporation” with a pathetic track record of wasting state money – entertaining once again buying a failed business, well it goes to show that AIDEA wants to continue proving to mankind that “failure” finds no consequences, especially when wasting someone else's loot. Yes, good old AIDEA on a rock'n roll detour “mission accomplished” again, just like a broken record, can't budge away from a rut! But maybe this time around they will get it right. Don't laugh! Anyway, the rail wants the shipper to invest the bucks to purchase the special containers designed to haul liquefied gas at -160F. It ain't cheap. So, it appears that the citizens of Alaska will be owners of expensive containers wherein only those in the interior will benefit. That is why if a CIRI shareholder native, I would be pissed. This “Casey Jones” project does not benefit the entirety, as is required by state statutes. Anyway, the railroad should take ownership of the containers. Why? Well since funded by the FTA, it would mean the materials – like steel – and labor to fabricate these containers would be “American Made”. Then maybe I could find some benefit this project. In fact, with all the “extra” loot the rail brings in by offering non-peak half-fare rates, take that money and invest it into this project! See, it is desperate times, as with the interior pollution alerts just this year alone, if the military starts getting paranoid and the interior bases see reductions, it means an economic impact Tsunami! Reduction in military obligations due “health risks” which need no approval from Don Young, well it means a 20% decrease in local jobs and sales droop of 14%. Anyway, an analysis of road trucking verses rail transport seems a requirement as to whether or not this project is a good idea. First question from the PJW3DBB consultants hired by an anonymous concerned Alaskan to verify the numbers: How come Fairbanks Natural Gas never considered “rail” transport? Good question! Anyhay, if we attach a factor of 100 to the truckers and equate that with rail, we see about a 45% decrease in transport costs by using Casey Jones. Wow, asked again, why didn't Fairbanks Natural Aghast think of this? Let's face the facts, that means about half the costs for transport so why not? So with the trucksters at 100 and the rail at 55, is this a good deal or what! Not so fast. See, the logistics of the rail for the same movement of LNG, well that factor now increases to 145. So, it appears in Round#2 the rail loses out. And that is the economics in a clamshell as analyzed by a 3rd party independent assessor. On its face, rail is cheaper but when one considers the additional infrastructure logistics required to perform the same deal when on the “road again”, it is awash and there exists “zero” costs savings. So, now that it appears to be a failure before it is official, AIDEA will refuse to admit defeat and go ahead with this project. And the LNG price to customers will see no ups or downs, except all those special containers will be purchased by the good old citizens of Alaska and we will pay for the purchase of Fairbanks Natural Gas at an inflated bargain of $50-Million and another $50-million for a storage tank. Damn, we may as well just keep funding the Kodiak Free-Lunch Facility, at least that was out-of-sight and out-of-mind and quiet, as nobody in their right mind would launch a rocket from that isolated island with panty theives running around with a crazed appetite. Who wins, no one! By the time this project gets any traction, the military will have gone bye-bye and Fairbanks will be but a tourists attraction Sam McGee “Cremated Ghost Town”. So, we have had “natural gas” projects on the drawing board since 1976 and yet continue to prove we know not what we are talking about. So maybe Sarah Palin wasn't the only quitter, as it appears somebody along the line has made it a career at quitting the true intent of our sovereign statehood, in caring for the citizens' wellbeing, which means affordable energy and clean air and clean water! Sadly said again, a solution, a simple solution has been available for as many years as oil has come down that Trans-Alaska-Pipeline – it's called a “natural gas pipeline”! But “Don’t worry about things you do not have control over, and I say that very sincerely. We believe our merits outweigh the worry. We believe the location outweighs the worry,” said Don Young about the military packing up. Look, eventually our delegation will wear out it whining and with the high cost of coal and the high cost of electricity along with pollution – what incentive to stay put? But it could work, this new hatched plan of ridiculousness, if Alaska allows the railroad to continue to commit fraud with the FTA appropriations, with U.S. Taxpayer loot disguised as a “Transport Credit”! A double-dipping it is, as this project benefits a few at the expense of many – even outsiders and maybe that is OK now that we have been infiltrated by and extension of the “Corrupt Bastards Club” wherein Alaskan residency is no longer a requirement. 

 

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