• Oceans, Watersheds and Humans: Facts, Myths and Realities

      Huntington, Henry; Colt, Steve (2002)
      Alaskans expect a great deal from their oceans and watersheds. Commercial fishing, sport fishing, subsistence hunting, recreation, offshore oil and gas development, transportation, and tourism are among the many ways the oceans, coast, watersheds, and their resources are used. These activities, however, can strain or break the capacity of the ecosystem to sustain them and they are not always compatible. Conflicts and controversies between different user groups are increasingly common. The role of societal forces in shaping the human-aquatic relationship is often under-appreciated, but can be critical. Protecting the health of Alaska’s oceans and watersheds requires managing the interactions between humans and those eco­systems, based on an understanding of the dynamics of both the natural and the social sys­tems involved. This paper provides an introductory look at the relationship between humans and the oceans and watersheds of Alaska. We begin by characterizing various aspects of the human interaction with oceans, followed by a critical look at five “myths” concerning oceans and watersheds.
    • Oil Price Surprises and the Budget

      Goldsmith, Scott (1990)
      Policy makers drawing up state budgets each year tend to use the price of oil prevailing during the legislative session as the basis for predicting oil prices and likely state petroleum revenues. Currently these make up about 85 percent of state income. This fiscal policy note examines some recent trends and the implications for short-term volatility, and longer term declines for state spending.
    • Oil Pumps Alaska's Economy to Twice the Size - But What's Ahead?

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-02)
      Oil money has driven most of the growth and paid for state government operations in Alaska for 40 years. We’ve all gotten used to that money, so it’s easy to underestimate how much of the state’s prosperity is built on oil. Think about this: without oil, the economy today would be only half the size. But now times are changing. The North Slope is producing just a third the oil it once did—and there’s a danger Alaskans will assume the state can keep going the way it is, without future oil development. Not true.
    • On the Eve of IFQs: Fishing for Alaska's Halibut and Sablefish

      Berman, Matthew; Leask, Linda (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1994)
      This year, anyone with a boat, longline gear, and a $50 permit could try for halibut in Alaska’s commercial fisheries. But that open access will likely end in 1995, when the federal government introduces Individual Fishing Quotas (IFQs). Quotas—shares of the catch—will be issued just to those who owned or leased vessels that fished for halibut between 1988 and 1990. An IFQ system for sablefish (black cod) under federal management will start at the same time. The IFQ plan is not popular with the men and women who fish for halibut: 68 percent of captains (permit holders) believe IFQs will unfairly allocate halibut, even though 78 percent agree they will make fishing safer. But the IFQ system could also cause big changes in wealth, income, and jobs in Alaska’s coastal communities, which rely heavily on fishing. ISER is studying the potential effects of IFQs, especially on small coastal towns, under a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant. As a first step we surveyed captains (most of whom were also owners) of vessels with longline gear. This publication reports our survey findings.
    • Operations and Maintenance Issues in Rural Alaska Sanitation

      Colt, Steve (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1994)
      Today, many rural Alaskans have inadequate water and sanitation facilities. As a result, they face unacceptable health risks and an unacceptably poor quality of life. While much has been accomplished during the past 30 years, the honey bucket remains the primary form of sanitation in scores of communities. This paper is intended to stimulate discussion about several issues related to operations and maintenance of rural sanitation systems. The paper focuses on operations and maintenance issues because so many observers agree that proper O&M is crucial to success but severely lacking in many communities today. Section 2 reviews the prior recommendations of the Alaska Sanitation Task Force and issues raised during meetings of the Federal Field Work Group. Section 3 provides some discussion of these recommendations and issues, based on subsequent research. Section 4 provides a simple method for quantifying the benefits of preventive maintenance and R&D. Section 5 discusses mechanisms for providing O&M assistance. Section 6 provides three case studies of life cycle costs for three different system types.
    • Options For Restructuring Alaska Salmon Fisheries

      Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2003)
      The paper provides a very brief introduction to the very complicated topic of options for restructuring Alaska salmon fisheries. By "restructuring" we mean any change in the rules affecting how, where, when, and by whom, salmon are harvested in Alaska. The main goal of this paper is to show that there are many different ways to go about restructuring. the choices are not simply between broad options such as "permit stacking" or "buybacks" or "co-ops", but also - and critically - how those options are designed and implemented. Prepared for a panel discussion for the Alaska Legislature's Fish Caucus on "Restructuring the Salmon Industry: A discussion of Fishery Management Models".
    • Overpaid or Underpaid? Public Employee Compensation in the State of Alaska

      Guettabi, Mouhcine; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2016-07-01)
      Are state workers better paid than their counterparts in private industry? That question is likely to come up more often, as the state deals with a huge budget shortfall. The answer is generally no, but there are exceptions. We analyzed the question in two ways, using different data sources for cash wages but the same assumptions about benefit levels.1 Using two sources helped us better answer the question, and each yielded the same broad conclusion: state workers are not on average paid more. That’s true, whether we consider just wages, or total compensation— wages plus benefits. But there are significant differences in pay and total compensation of public and private workers in individual occupations. We did this research for the Alaska Department of Administration (see back page). Below we summarize our findings, and inside report more details.
    • An Overview of Alaska's Natural Assets - Main Report and Research Summary

      Larson, Eric (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1998)
      Alaska’s natural assets kept Native people alive for centuries, drew fortune-hunters here in the 1800s, and sustain the modern economy. But what are all these “natural assets,” how abundant are they, and what is their value? The Alaska Conservation Alliance contracted with ISER to sketch the big picture of Alaska’s natural assets—ranging from spectacular scenery to huge petroleum and coal deposits to habitat for a big share of the world’s migrating waterfowl. This report is a broad overview of the abundance, status, and value of Alaska’s primary natural assets. These assets include all aspects of nature that provide some benefits, services, income, or value. These benefits include life support services such as water storage, regulation of the chemical composition of the atmosphere, and cycling nutrients through the food chain. The natural environment provides valuable raw materials such as oil, trees, and minerals that we make into products. We also relyon nature for fish, crops, livestock, and wild animals that we consume as food. Nature is also a valuable resource for non-consumptive use. For example, we enjoy outdoor recreation such as camping, hiking, picnicking, viewing wildlife, and skiing. These non-consumptive uses of nature enrich our lives and are the basis for much of the Alaska tourism industry.In Part II of this report we identify and describe major components of our natural assets. Because this is an overview, we take a broad look at many aspects of our natural assets and pass quickly across a lot of detail. In Part III of this report, we look more closely at why these assets are valuable and present methods to estimate the monetary value of selected natural assets.
    • The Past and Future of LNG in Alaska

      Tussing, Arlon R. (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
      Why do negotiations between the State and the North Slope gas producers ignore LNG [liquefied natural gas] export proposals, including that of the Alaska Gasline Port Authority [AGPA]? The three main North Slope gas producers [ConocoPhillips, BP and ExxonMobil], and Alaska’s Murkowski Administration, agree that an overland pipeline from Prudhoe Bay, crossing Canada to the U.S. Midwest, is the most promising transport system under present and foreseeable conditions, for marketing Arctic gas. Nevertheless, plans to ship LNG in “cryogenic” [low-pressure refrigerated] tankers from a Southcentral Alaska port such as Valdez or Kenai, to the Lower 48 or East Asia remain technically plausible marketing alternatives to a transcontinental gas pipeline. Currently, the most prominent proposal for such an alternative is sponsored by the Alaska Gasline Port Authority [AGPA], a coalition of three municipalities—the North Slope and Fairbanks North Star Boroughs, and the City of Valdez—which are located North to South along the route of the TransAlaska oil pipeline from the Arctic Ocean to Prince William Sound.
    • The Path to a Fiscal Solution: Use Earnings from All Our Assets

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-04-23)
      Thanks to a combination of good decisions and a little luck, today Governor Hammond’s vision has become a reality. More than $60 billion in financial accounts now generates more income for the state government than petroleum production. Yet we continue to rely mostly on current petroleum revenues to pay for public services—and as oil production declines, “sliding down the falling Prudhoe Bay revenue curve” is proving to be a formula for fiscal and economic disaster. In fiscal year 2016, General Fund revenues are expected to be only about $2.2 billion. That will leave an apparent “deficit” of about $3.3 billion, based on spending of $5.5 billion. But the state doesn’t have to face such a huge shortfall. There is a straightforward solution that Jay Hammond foresaw: using both current revenues and earnings from the state’s portfolio of assets (financial accounts and future petroleum revenues) to pay for public services.
    • Perceptions of Universal Ballet Delivery Systems

      Hanna, Virgene; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2018-06-22)
      A total of 412 registered voters in the Bethel, Dillingham, and Kusilvak Census Areas completed surveys with ISER interviewers in March and April of 2018. The majority (74%) of respondents reported their race as Alaska Native and 13% were White. Near the beginning of the survey, interviewers asked respondents how they preferred to receive their ballot and 60% said they preferred to get it in person on Election Day, 21% would prefer to receive it by mail, and 17% would prefer to receive their ballot online. After respondents heard a description of three voting methods being considered: 1) keep voting the way it is now; 2) mail out and mail back; and 3) receive ballot in the mail and have different ways to return it their preferences changed somewhat. Of the three methods, keep voting the way it is now was the first choice by 49% of respondents, followed by 36% for option 3, and 14% for option 2. Respondents had little experience with voting methods other than in-person. When asked what made it difficult for them and other members of their community to vote, personal reasons, such as being sick or out of town, was the most frequent (37%) response. About two-thirds (64%) reported personal reasons made it difficult for people in their community to vote followed by 46% saying that the ballot being written in English made it difficult for people in their community. Over half (56%) of respondents reported they are satisfied with their mail service, only 17% of those who were satisfied said they would prefer to receive or return their ballot by mail.
    • Perceptions of Universal Ballot Delivery Systems

      Hanna, Virgene; Passini, Jessica (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 6/22/2018)
      A total of 412 registered voters in the Bethel, Dillingham, and Kusilvak Census Areas completed surveys with ISER interviewers in March and April of 2018. The majority (74%) of respondents reported their race as Alaska Native and 13% were White. Near the beginning of the survey, interviewers asked respondents how they preferred to receive their ballot and 60% said they preferred to get it in person on Election Day, 21% would prefer to receive it by mail, and 17% would prefer to receive their ballot online. After respondents heard a description of three voting methods being considered: 1) keep voting the way it is now; 2) mail out and mail back; and 3) receive ballot in the mail and have different ways to return it their preferences changed somewhat. Of the three methods, keep voting the way it is now was the first choice by 49% of respondents, followed by 36% for option 3, and 14% for option 2. Respondents had little experience with voting methods other than in-person. When asked what made it difficult for them and other members of their community to vote, personal reasons, such as being sick or out of town, was the most frequent (37%) response. About two-thirds (64%) reported personal reasons made it difficult for people in their community to vote followed by 46% saying that the ballot being written in English made it difficult for people in their community. Over half (56%) of respondents reported they are satisfied with their mail service, only 17% of those who were satisfied said they would prefer to receive or return their ballot by mail.
    • Permanent Fund Policy Questions and Informal Review of Proposals for Change

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1997)
      The growing importance of the Permanent Fund in the fiscal, economic, political and social life of the state requires that we periodically review how it is working, not necessarily to change it, but to ensure that it is continuing to do what is best for Alaska. This paper reviews recent proposals for changes in Permanent Fund policies using a series of questions that each stakeholder should consider. The answers to these questions should help to evaluate those proposals and stimulate thought about the role of the Permanent Fund in Alaska's future. Prepared for Principles and Interests: The Permanent Fund and Alaska's Future, a conference sponsored by the Alaska Humanities Forum.
    • Petroleum Industry and Fairbanks Economy

      Huskey, Lee (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1995)
      The petroleum industry plays an important role in the economy of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, but that role is largely hidden from view. A major portion of the local economy is linked to petroleum production, and economic activity in the petroleum sector is one of the most important determinants of the size of the overall economy. The primary task of this report was to estimate the size of the Fairbanks petroleum sector. This report defines the petroleum sector to include all economic activity in the region which would not exist without North Slope oil production. The report looks at the role of the petroleum sector in 1994 and was prepared for BP (Alaska) Inc. for presentation to the State of Alaska Oil and Gas Policy Council.
    • Planning The First American-Soviet Park

      Tichotsky, John (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1991)
      The proposed Beringian Heritage International Park is tentatively to include the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Alaska and the Chukotka and Provideniya districts of the Chukotka Autonomous Republic. The National Park Service and the National Audubon Society asked ISER to examine resource development, political organization, and other factors that will influence the Societ Union's designation of land for the international park. This research summary provides an overview of the recent report on ISER's recent report on Chukotka - "Use and Allocation of Natural Resources in the Chukotka Autonomous District" by John Tichotsky.
    • Policy Implications of Freestanding Emergency Departments

      Frazier, Rosyland; Guettabi, Mouhcine (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2015-05-01)
      Policymakers have a responsibility to look at both the short- and long-term implications of their decisions. The state’s current fiscal situation, coupled with rising health-care costs makes “budget neutrality” highly desirable in decision-making. In spite of efforts to bend the cost curve, health expenditures have grown inexorably in Alaska. As of 2009 our health expenditures per capita were the second highest in the nation. This means that the state spends a larger portion of its budget on health costs, employers allocate more of employees’ compensation to health premiums, and households spend more of their disposable income on out-of- pocket costs, premiums, and co-pays. The evidence we provide in this analysis consistently shows that freestanding emergency departments charge higher prices for services that are available for considerably less in traditional settings. Allowing freestanding emergency departments to enter the Alaska market goes against the many efforts being undertaken to contain health-care costs. Markets forces explain a significant portion of the high health-care prices charged in Alaska, but in this case the state has an opportunity to use its regulatory authority to help prevent even higher prices in the future. Putting costs aside, in considering emergency services one needs to rationalize the hospital and clinical capacity across a region and the needs of the population. In the Alaska health-care system there are problems with coordinating the delivery of care. Freestanding emergency departments pose the risk of exacerbating that lack of coordination, if people use them in lieu of seeing their primary physicians—which can disrupt the continuum of care and potentially hurt outcomes for patients.
    • The Political Economics of United States Marine Aquaculture

      Knapp, Gunnar (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2010-10)
      Government leasing and regulatory policies are critically important for the development of marine aquaculture to a scale far below its economic potential. Two extreme examples are the State of Alaska's ban on all finfish farming, and the absence of an enabling regulatory framework for aquaculture in offshore federal waters. This paper suggests five broad reasons for which U.S. policies have been unfavorable towards marine aquaculture: (1) Marine aquaculture is new and small; (2) Fish and marine waters are traditionally public resources; (3) Many Americans perceive potential negative effects of marine aquaculture without offsetting positive effects; (4) MGOs have systematically and effective opposed marine aquaculture; and (5) The governance system for leasing and regulation is structurally biased against U.S. marine aquaculture. The paper suggests four broad strategies for addressing these political challenges: (1) Fix real problems; (2) Demonstrate benefits; (3) Argue effectively; and (4) Reform Governance.
    • Population, Employment, and Income Projections for Alaska Census Areas

      Goldsmith, Scott (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 1998)
      These projections have been prepared to accompany the statewide and regional projections prepared by ISER in March 1997 for the Alaska Department of Transportation. Those projections appeared in a report entitled Alaska's Economy and Population, 1959-2020. This document contains tabulated data with very little interpretive or contextual information. Please see the aforementioned report for these details.
    • Port of Anchorage TIGER II BCA Model

      Goldsmith, Oliver Scott; Schwörer, Tobias (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2011-08-17)
    • Potential Improvements to National Park Service Visitor Surveys and Money Generation Modeling in Alaska

      Colt, Steve; Fay, Ginny; Hanna, Virgene (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska Anchorage, 2013-12)
      This study presents options for improving the use of the Money Generation Model in National Park Service (NPS) land units in Alaska. The Money Generation Model (MGM) is used nationwide to model economic impacts of visitation to public lands, including National Park Units. This analysis identifies potential improvements to the application of the MGM model and visitor survey processes for use in Alaska. Improvements include changes to visitor intercept methods to improve statistical reliability of the sampling process and a more representative sample, changes in the survey instrument to more accurately reflect Alaska visitor travel and expenditure patterns, and better identification of the economic sphere of influence of Alaska national park units.