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Archive for March 29th, 2009

Alaska dodges banking collapse

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on March 29, 2009

2006openhouseatalaskagovernorsmansion

Alaska dodges banking collapse

HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT: More conservative policies help avoid outside crush.

Most major banks and credit unions in Alaska seem to be in good health, despite the worsening news about the economy and the recent bailout of troubled national banks.

One positive sign is that many of the state’s largest banks and credit unions grew in local profits, revenue, loan activity or deposits last year.

What will happen this year is a different question. Last year, many local financial institutions benefited from high oil prices and fatter-than-normal Permanent Fund dividends. This year, oil and mineral prices are down, tourism is expected to suffer and some of the state’s largest employers are laying off workers.

But because most banks in Alaska avoided risky loans, and because economists aren’t predicting severe job losses in Alaska this year, Anchorage financial executives don’t expect the sort of meltdown and loss of shareholder confidence that has pummeled their colleagues in the Lower 48.

“There’s a dislocation between what people are seeing on the national news and what’s happening here,” said Jason Roth, chief financial officer at First National Bank Alaska.

ADEQUATE BACKING?

According to regulatory filings at the end of last year, all of the state’s major banks exceeded federal regulators’ threshold for maintaining enough financial backing to cover the risk of failed loans. And that includes the three banks — Wells Fargo, Key Bank and Alaska Pacific Bancshares — that accepted money from the U.S. Treasury as part of its Troubled Asset Relief Program, otherwise known as the national bank bailout or TARP.

Credit unions also seem to be doing OK, though they say they are affected by the financial woes of their customers.

“Most credit unions in Alaska are well capitalized but these are tough times,” said James Wileman, president of the Alaska Credit Union League.

Members of his Sitka credit union, for example, are hurting due to troubles in the community’s tourism- and fishing-dependent economy, he said.

Like Alaska’s banks, the credit unions recently had to begin paying a higher premium into a national fund that protects customer deposits if financial institutions fail.

“All the credit unions (and banks) in the country had to pay in,” Wileman said, noting that because it was a one-time event, his company does not plan to pass along that cost to its customers.

 

HEAVY LOSSES

Several banks in Alaska have benefitted from the national bailout.

Juneau-based Alaska Pacific received $4.8 million from TARP this year — the only Alaska-based bank to do so. The Juneau bank suffered financial losses last year due to delinquent loans. Over half those loans were in the Lower 48 and involved troubled real estate projects. As a result, the bank suspended its dividends to investors in the final part of 2008.

Key Bank suffered a $1.5 billion national loss in 2008, in part because it needed to reserve a large part of its income for delinquent loans, according to its most recent financial statement. In November, Key Bank accepted a $2.5 billion loan from the Treasury’s TARP fund.

But Key Bank says its business grew in Alaska last year: lending increased 16 percent last year.

In October, Wells Fargo Bank accepted a $25 billion loan from the TARP that it says it didn’t want or need, and only took at the insistence of federal officials.

The bank reported a $2.6 billion profit last year and its business in Alaska was the best it’s ever been, said the bank’s regional president Richard Strutz.

In Alaska, Wells Fargo’s revenue and deposits grew more than 9 percent last year, and its loan activity increased more than 4 percent.

Strutz said he doesn’t expect this year to go as well. “We haven’t escaped the issues in the Lower 48,” he said, noting lower commodity prices and the predicted downturn in tourism.

 

PROSPERING BANKS

How did Alaska’s prospering banks avoid the troubles of others that have generated cringe-inducing headlines in recent months?

Last year’s strong economy and high oil prices certainly played a role. But local banks also claim they were more conservative than some of their larger colleagues.

“You don’t see community banks putting people in loans that aren’t appropriate and you don’t see them with toxic assets,” said Roth, of First National.

His bank and Anchorage-based Northrim BanCorp both decided not to participate in the TARP program. Both banks were profitable last year.

First National’s annual profit last year increased about 13 percent to $42.9 million and the value of its assets was about $2.4 billion.

Northrim reported a $6.1 million profit last year and assets of $1 billion.


 Find Elizabeth Bluemink online at adn.com/contact/ebluemink or call 257-4317.

http://www.adn.com/money/story/724542.html

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Posted in Alaska, Conservative, ECONOMY, Environment, Governor Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin | Leave a Comment »

Palin Energy Plan Receives High Praise

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on March 29, 2009

governor-palins-energy-plan

Palin Energy Plan Receives High Praise

Alaska Stresses Local Solutions

Written By: Alyssia Carducci
Published In: Environment & Climate News > April 2009
Publication date: 04/01/2009
Publisher: The Heartland Institute


Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has announced an ambitious plan to produce half of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Palin’s plan, which empowers local municipalities to identify and develop the most cost-efficient renewable power sources available to them, won immediate praise from environmental groups, consumer groups, and industry.

Local Solutions Identified

The plan was presented in a 245-page document, Alaska Energy: A First Step Toward Energy Independence. It identifies each community’s current energy needs for electrical generation, space heating, and transportation while developing a list of solutions to lower energy costs.

In a January 16 press conference, Palin said her plan was designed to break away from energy proposals produced in prior years but never implemented. Key to turning ideas into action under the Palin plan is identification of the most cost-effective energy alternatives for each community and region in the state.

Inducing Industry Cooperation

Palin’s plan also aims to encourage six state utilities to “stop traditional infighting and take a regional approach for new power generation projects that could lower costs,” reported the Anchorage Daily News on January 16.

“Governor Palin encouraging the various power companies to work together under the same umbrella is a very important and desirable development,” said Christopher Rose, executive director of the Renewable Energy Alaska Project. “If we have this integrated regional planning we would be much more likely to meet the 50 percent goal.”

One project requiring regional cooperation would be a large hydroelectric dam at Susitna. In the 1970s state officials first began considering such a dam on the river just north of Anchorage. With most of Alaska’s population residing in the Anchorage region, the dam would provide emissions-free electricity to 70 percent of the state’s residents.

Hydroelectric power is one of the least-expensive forms of energy, but it requires substantial upfront investment. A large hydroelectric dam on the Susitna River would likely cost between $5 billion and $10 billion to build, according to current estimates. Such a project would require state oversight and unprecedented cooperation from regional utilities.

Palin has not indicated whether she supports construction of a Susitna River dam, but it is the type of project her energy plan would make economically and politically possible for the first time.

Environmentalists Offer Praise

Environmental groups praised Palin’s proposal.

“We just became a leader among states in committing to renewable energy as the power source of the future,” Pat Lavin, attorney for the National Wildlife Federation, told the Anchorage Daily News for its January 16 story.

Lavin called Palin’s proposal “a defining moment in Alaska’s history.”

Kate Troll, executive director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance, offered praise as well.

“We think the 50 percent renewable energy goal by 2025 is a laudable goal. We would like to see it incorporated into the energy plan. We would also like to see the demand side addressed, in terms of energy efficiency. Palin has acknowledged the need for this in her public statements, and we would like to see this cemented in the plan,” Troll said.

Alternatives to Diesel

Troll was especially hopeful about the plan’s potential for replacing diesel power in rural communities.

“A lot of our renewable energy potential is near remote villages that are currently dependent on diesel. We are very hopeful that we can pioneer some wind/diesel hybrid projects or new hydro projects in these areas to replace diesel,” said Troll.

“The type of hydro power we have right now are not the massive dams, they are more like ‘lake tap’ dams, and we are supportive of them. We see them as renewable energy and would support more of them,” Troll added. “We have located our dams away from major salmon streams so environmentally they are much more benign.”

“Environmental groups understand that we need baseload power,” agreed Rose. “Wind and most other renewable resources are not baseload. Environmental groups here in Alaska understand that if we don’t use hydro for our baseload power, we will be getting coal instead.”

Even liberal newspaper columnists were impressed with Palin’s plan, praising it as forward-thinking.

“I don’t often applaud Palin, but I give her kudos for announcing a bold and comprehensive energy guide for the state of Alaska,” wrote columnist Robert Paul Reyes on the News Blaze Web site.

Everything on Table

In presenting her energy plan, Palin noted Alaska has more abundant renewable power sources than most other states. In a February 1 editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune she emphasized her agreement with President Barack Obama, who pledged during his campaign pledge that “everything was on the table” to address America’s energy challenges.

Specifically, Palin called on Congress not to prohibit oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which would create hundreds of thousands of jobs and pour much-needed royalty payments into the federal treasury to help alleviate a spiraling federal deficit, while having minimal impact on the tundra environment.

“The development of oil and clean-burning natural gas isn’t a panacea,” wrote Palin. “However, this development should be authorized in comprehensive legislation that includes alternative fuels, fuel efficiency and conservation.”

“We are supportive of our onshore natural gas being exported to the lower 48 states,” Troll said. “We see natural gas as a bridge fuel to a clean, secure energy future. We have a lot of natural gas on the North Slope. We are supportive of continued production of this.”


 Alyssia Carducci (adc.republican@yahoo.com) writes from Tampa, Florida.

http://www.heartland.org/publications/environment%20climate/article/24908/Palin_Energy_Plan_Receives_High_Praise.html

 

Posted in Alaska, Energy, Energy Independence, Governor Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin | Leave a Comment »

Sarah Palin Proves She’s No George Bush

Posted by Sarah Palin Web Brigade on March 29, 2009

closeup-photo-of-sarah-in-white-blouse-at-microphone

Sarah Palin Proves She’s No George Bush

by John Ziegler

Andrew Brettbart Presents  BIG HOLLYWOOD

Posted Mar 26th 2009 at 2:47 pm

Back in January, when the media firestorm over my “Media Malpractice” interview with Governor Sarah Palin erupted, I wrote on this website that it was my belief that she was no George W. Bush. I can now say with even greater certainty that I was absolutely correct in that assertion. 

The reason I felt that way initially, was that after several days of the news media cherry picking snippets from my interview with her in an out of context way that appeared designed to make Palin seem whiny and weak (the exact opposite of what she actually was during the interview), she had a couple of choices. Basically she could try to pretend the interview and the issue of how the media lied to destroy her candidacy didn’t really exist, lick her wounds, mitigate whatever perceived political damage there might have been (though with her base the interview was CLEARLY a huge hit) and never speak of the topic again, or she could continue the fight for the truth regardless of the potential consequences.

The vast majority of politicians (like George W. Bush) would curl up into the fetal position and concede defeat to the media in such situations, and I have to confess that I feared Palin may wilt under the same pressure that shattered the previous administration. But when the Governor called me that weekend and I mentioned learning the lessons of George Bush not fighting back against the news media, it was immediately obvious to me that Palin “got it.”

Well, that was clearly confirmed by a stem winder of a speech she gave this week at a Lincoln Day Dinner in Alaska. If there was any doubt about Palin standing strong in her desire to correct the historical record about her, her family and her VP candidacy, it now appears to have vanished. As reported prominently today by AOL/CNN (it took a shocking long time for the speech to be reported on at all in the “lower 48,” and if you go through the photo gallery most of the quotes are from my interview, and a “Big Hollywood” column of mine regarding Keith Olbermann is misreported), Palin continued to express many of the themes that she outlined in my documentary.

Governor Palin plainly stated the obvious reality (as proven beyond a doubt in “Media Malpractice”) that there was an “unprecedented level of media slant” against her during the campaign. She also verified a personal theory of mine as to why Palin, in her own words, was “naïve” about how the news media would treat her.

She declared, “Some in the media actually participated in not so much the ‘who-what-where-when-why’ objective reporting on candidates and positions, those five W’s that I learned when I had a journalism degree so many years ago in college, when the world of journalism was quite different than it is today.”

Who could blame someone who graduated in the 80’s during a year in journalism when there was at least some self restraint on the inherent liberal agenda (I always find it amusing that Sam Donaldson, the scourge of conservatives during the Reagan years, now seems downright fair in retrospect) for being more than a bit shocked that the rules had been completely changed without anyone officially doing so.

“No, things have changed,” she said. “But complaining? Or whining? Absolutely not. But I am going to call it like I see it. It doesn’t do any good to whine about any of this. But I can call it like I see it. Sometimes it gets me in a lot of trouble when I speak candidly, and I speak from the heart and I do such a thing. But I am going to.”

No, Sarah Palin has clearly learned the lessons of George W. Bush, and anyone who cares about fairness and justice in the media should be thankful for that reality.

http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/jziegler/2009/03/26/sarah-palin-proves-she-is-no-george-bush/

 

Posted in Alaska, GOP, Governor Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin | Leave a Comment »