The summer of 2010 was pretty spectacular. We started the summer with a "100 years of living" extravaganza/party in May celebrating our respective 50th birthdays. The party was highlighted by our daughter Rachel singing a couple of songs with the band which was comprised of 2 current members of the Long Players. The bartenders were our son, Houston, and his college age friends. It was a very memorable evening complete with great food and great people.
Shortly thereafter, we set out on a week long sailing "barefoot" cruise in the Caribbean on a 46 foot yacht captained by our good friend Kemper Harr. Our two families met up in Atlanta and flew down to St. Thomas, then picked up our boat in Tortola. What a spectacular week--waking up on board, raising the sails, and cruising to different spots---where unusually personable restaurants and bars awaited us around the islands. The water and weather were perfect for early June.
After settling back into Nashville for a few days, we were off again to Baton Rouge to support Houston's final club soccer tournament with KFC (Knoxville Futbol Club) in the Regionals. This trip was a bookend on a fabulous club soccer career for our son. He played ten years, and was the recipient of many awards, honors, and accolades. Not many kids make it to the U-19 level, where competition is fierce. In fact, only 12 boys from the entire state of Tn made it this far. Club soccer paved the way for Houston to received a full scholarship to play soccer at the collegiate level Division One--at the University of Richmond.
So it was with some emotion that we exited this tourney after 3 games, thus ending the club soccer years. Our "Shaggin Wagon" Ford Van rolled into Nashville with over 110K miles. Rarely used for anything other than family soccer (and SGI) trips, we wonder what will become of that old van. Tons of memories.
As July 4th approached, we packed up again and made our annual pilgrimage to our cabin on Center Hill Lake for the fabled Smithville Jamboree weekend with our good friends Alice and Sammy Taylor and family. We had all of our toys, the 21 ft. Sea Ray, the Sea Doo, and all the extras for our dock just below our place. We are fortunate to have one of the few docks on the lake whereby we can assemble, and distribute according to age, interest, and what not. Plenty of activities abounded, as other friends would come and go on their boats as well. The Jamboree was highlighted by plenty of gospel singing in back of the Courthouse away from the stage. I missed the 5k this year, but others ran it on Saturday morning. The Hurricane Marina folks put on a great fireworks show to cap off the 4th.
Not too long thereafter, our final official trip of the summer commenced towards St. George Island, where we co-own a house with our good friends, Chip and Mary Loch Smith. This was to be an Oldham/ Smith reunion, as our two families had not traveled together for at least 2 years. The trip got off to a rough start, as we had to put down our beloved dog of 10 years, Emma, the great Golden, on the morning of our departure. Things just weren't totally right for several days after that, but because of the great understanding and empathy of the Smiths', they made our trip fabulous as usual to this special area of Florida. The wildlife and nature that exists in this cozy spot off the coast of Apalachicola is simply amazing. We were visited daily by an Osprey about 5 pm looking for dinner and flying peacefully up and down the coast. Tons of dolphin each day. And plenty of freshly caught grouper and snapper. We took our bikes this year and did a 30 mile ride from one end of the island to the other. Good stuff. And we had 7 kids/ young adults on this trip, so there was always something happening around Angel Wing. We ended our trip to SGI with our annual "Beach Olympics", highlighted by beach volleyball, beach soccer, and beach football, all played back to back with frequent trips to the oil free Gulf.
Other fabulous tidbits from the summer included watching almost every World Cup game with Houston and an assortment of his friends and cheering on the USA, who ultimately folded in an incredible line up snafu against Ghana. "Monday Funday" became a staple around our house with Houston's college age friends showing up to play beer pong on Monday nights. We had to call of this epic night of fun eventually as high school kids would wander in, eager to find a parent friendly alcohol is okay zone. Sorry guys. Rachel and her friends had many sun filled days around the pool and listening to loud music, thanks to the newly installed outdoor rock speakers around our oh so cool patio and deck. Houston is becoming quite a chef and cooked dinner frequently for us and his friends.
Finally, the summer of 2010 faded and as we made plans for school, we picked up and rescued two puppies to join our family and to try to replace the hole left by Emma's quick demise. So we welcome "Indie" and "Leo" in mid August. The emptiness of the house with kids back in school will hopefully be offset by these two little hell raising puppies. What a great summer. Thanks be to God.
By SEAN PARNELL
In Alaska we empathize with residents of the Gulf states who are watching with trepidation as the potentially catastrophic oil spill continues unchecked. This tragedy reminds us of the fallout, both financial and environmental, that we still feel here from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. State and federal studies still find lingering subsurface oil, for example, and the herring fishery has yet to fully rebound. But just as Alaskans did not abandon our belief in responsible petroleum exploration and development after that disaster, Americans cannot afford to take their eyes off the ball now.
As I noted in these pages last year, responsible offshore oil and gas production, particularly off Alaska's coast, has to be a critical component of our long-term energy security strategy—and so too does responsible onshore domestic production. Yet there are troubling signs that the Obama administration is attempting to stifle—particularly in my state—the critical onshore component of America's ability to produce its own energy.
The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) holds up to 16 billion barrels of recoverable oil. While this area was set aside by Congress in 1980 for later consideration of whether to permit oil and gas production there, a federal agency is now undertaking a "review" of the management plan of the refuge—a review that seems aimed at laying the groundwork for a wilderness designation that would bar production.
But it is not only ANWR that the Obama administration seems intent on locking up. Federal agencies are also now blocking oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska.
Although familiar with ANWR, most Americans are less likely to know about NPR-A and how vital it is to our energy security. Given recent developments, it's time to elevate the position this area holds in our national discourse.
NPR-A, a 23 million acre stretch of Alaska's North Slope, was set aside by President Warren Harding in 1923 for the specific purpose of supplying our country and military with oil and gas. Since 1976 it has been administered by the Department of the Interior, and since 1980 it has been theoretically open for development. The most recent estimates indicate that it holds 12 billion barrels of oil and 73 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
In addition to containing enormous hydrocarbons, NPR-A is very close to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which means that there would be relatively little additional infrastructure needed to bring this new oil to our domestic market.
But even here, progress has been stalled.
For more than five years, the state of Alaska has worked closely with major energy companies, local communities and Alaska Native corporations and tribes on a balanced development plan. To back this project, these entities have formed a rare coalition and made significant compromises, often at the behest of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to clear regulatory hurdles for development on a site in NPR-A known as CD-5.
But this February the Corps reversed course and denied the issuance of a critical permit for CD-5. Specifically, the Corps denied ConocoPhillips's request to build a bridge over a river to accommodate a pipeline and vehicles that can access the company's existing production facilities at the nearby Alpine field. The Corps decreed that the bridge shouldn't be built and that the pipeline should proceed under water, a course of action that would significantly undermine the economics of the project while posing a greater risk to the environment.
Alaska stands ready to help move the nation closer to energy independence, and it's a shame that the federal government is standing in the way. The Corps's own regulations emphasize that state and local governments have primary responsibility for land-use decisions and that their views should be given due consideration. But not only has the Corps rejected a critical permit, it did so without consideration of our concerns—on the overly technical grounds that the state's comments were not made under my signature and that my oral comments to Corps officials were not in writing.
After years of cooperatively trying to move this critical NPR-A project forward, such a backhanded dismissal of a state's position is troubling enough. But what we really fear is that this is part of a much broader agenda at play (directed by the antidevelopment Environmental Protection Agency) to shut down increased domestic oil and gas production even in places like the NPR-A. As Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski stated in a recent address to our legislature, "For heaven's sakes, if we can't drill in the National Petroleum Reserve—an area specifically designated by Congress for oil and gas production—where can we drill?"
The state of Alaska is seeking to join an administrative appeal of this misguided federal decision. If we are not satisfied with the outcome of this proceeding, we will pursue other means, including suing the federal government to ensure that it abides by its own regulations and does not make arbitrary and capricious decisions at the expense of state sovereignty and wise energy policy.
America, particularly in Alaska, has vast reserves of onshore and offshore oil and gas. The crisis in the Gulf should not be used to implement a misguided strategy that shuts down the opportunities to develop these resources and that further endangers our nation's long-term energy security.
Mr. Parnell, a Republican, is governor of Alaska.