Letter to the Editor: Alaska deserves a fair cut of oil profits

Alaskans are once again faced with a ballot measure to increase taxes on the oil industry. Backers of the initiative argue that Alaska is not receiving its fair share of the wealth that is rightfully ours. Gov. Jay Hammond explained, “When I was in office, the state, the oil companies and the federal government agreed to split the oil wealth pie roughly one third, one third, and one third.” Initially it worked, but by 2004 the oil industry had lobbied changes to the agreement that reduced Alaska’s share to roughly 19 percent and increased their share to 53 percent.

This is our second attempt to recover some of what is rightfully ours. In 2014 voters believed oil industry arguments that promised three benefits to the state for not increasing their taxes:

  • increased investment in the discovery and development of new oil fields,
  • increase in the volume of oil flowing through the pipeline to 1 million barrels per day and
  • maintaining and protecting the jobs of Alaskans in the oil industry.

None of these promises were kept. Immediately after the election BP cut 475 jobs and over the ensuing years overall employment in the industry has decreased by 5,000 and the percentage of non-residents in the workforce increased.

The volume of oil flowing through the pipeline did not increase to the promised 1 million barrels per day. It decreased, and today is below 500,000 barrels per day.

Investment at Prudhoe Bay did not increase. It decreased.

Oil industry arguments today are the same as they were in 2014. Why would we believe arguments that proved to be false then? Why would we trust those who made promises in 2014 that were not kept?  Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 1.

Bill Hall
Anchorage

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