Oil and gas corporations are engaged in a radical program to transfer Alaska’s public wealth into private coffers.
For example, the oil corporations in Alaska spent $14 million in 2014 to fight back citizen-led efforts to repeal Senate Bill 21, the oil tax legislation introduced by former ConocoPhillips lobbyist Sean Parnell, and passed narrowly with the help of two ConocoPhillips employees in the Alaska Senate. That $14 million expenditure was a pretty nifty investment, and it netted the oil corporations billions in new annual profits. And SB 21 never produced the new jobs and production the corporations promised. At every turn, the oil and gas industry fights and scrapes for every penny they can wrestle from Alaska’s schools, public safety and seniors.
Why? Because today, the fiduciary duty to maximize profits is the number one corporate priority, to enrich shareholders and investors, and bolster CEO benefit packages. And these corporations will pay lawyers, buy elections and do whatever else it takes to grab more than their fair share from Alaska.
Recall the years-long litigation over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, settled in 2016, where the oil industry argued the value of the pipeline to be $3 billion for municipal property tax purposes, and a Judge and a panel of experts found the value actually to be more than $8 billion. Now, we see BP fighting with the state over royalty payments, arguing it deserves to pay lower royalties to the state due to costs associated with shipping the oil out of Valdez. But BP and other shippers already receive generous subsidies from the federal government to ship our oil to west coast refineries, so they don’t deserve higher profits.
These examples are not one-time anomalies, but rather a pattern and a practice baked into the very DNA of the corporations producing Alaska’s oil and gas. Alaska is the most profitable oil province in the world, by far. Yet the oil and gas corporations have captured our state and local governments, and hood-winked Alaskans into thinking the corporate interest is the public interest.
As Alaskans experience reduced PFD’s, and weather massive cuts to education and public safety, it’s time to claw-back some of the value of our oil. That’s why every Alaskan should support Senate Bill 14, which will take back deductible tax credits on our oil, and push over $1 billion a year back into essential services Alaskans need. As Wally Hickle famously stated, Alaska is the “owner state.” It’s past time we started to act like one.