Friday, April 20, 2012

Fishy Oil Business

Giving away $1.5 to $2 billion of Alaskan's money every year with no firm promise of anything in return raises serious red flags. So I reprint a letter to yours truly editor arguing that the oil companies, who are asking for this tax break, are just pulling the wool over eyes while they have an oil lobbyist in there as Governor. And the author makes the case that as corporate influence  is stopped here, so it is possible to stop the wholesale slaughter elsewhere in the state in fisheries and mining. That this is not just about oil, but that this is the line in the sand for Alaska as a whole.

"The legislature is in reconvened mode by the Governor because they didn't pass the corporate welfare program for the major oil companies he's promoting. They aren't getting poor up here. Quite the opposite. The amortized legacy oilfields are green meadows of profit, already paying the companies 10 times more than new leases overseas under strict terms..
  Our State Senate, under Gary Stevens, is so far holding firm on their new tax model that rewards exploration & new production, while levying higer rates on older fields. A wise considered strategy. But I gather from the news his coalition is fraying at it's bipartisan edges. Governor Parnell has been throwing regular hissy fits at the senate majority for not getting his political cake and eating it too. And perhaps cognizant of his paucity of emotional intelligence has enlisted the eminently likeable but demonstrably unscrupulous former Governor Knowles to apply the financial pressure of the oil companies to the reelection aspirations of the legislators. Who all feel threadbare in a winter storm without a toasty oil fueled PAC funding their future campaigns.It is a velvet gloved form of intimidation if not extortion.
  Still there's reason to hope. Our state's constitution gave us ownership of our resources. Governor Hickel articulated the vision of the "owne state". Where the publicly owned commons are managed in a responsible way for their many owners. Interred upright in boxing gloves, he may be waking up in the hearts of his
political descendants and taking another swig at Big Greed. But he'll need help. Knowles has emerged from his 7 year political hibernation after the statute of limitations has elapsed on the "Governors Fund". A oil funded account that he controlled as Governor and used in part for personal expenses in the six figure range. and god knows what else.
  Quite a political gymnast to go from being in hiding, to threatening the political future of both houses with an oil bucks club. (Does anyone remember how much of Alaska's fish resources he presided over the privatizing of? The Great Alaska Giver of Gifts to the Very Rich strikes again. ed.)
  But if Stevens and the Senate majority can hold through the pressure on petroleum resources, there is reason to have a glimmer of hope they could one day also take political ownership of mining and most importantly over the long term, fisheries policy. It's time to support Stevens. Oil, fisheries, & mining are all really 19th century industries wrapped in space age technology. They are all dependent on common resources, they all work in dispersed remote areas, they all work the 3rd world politics governing their trades as a matter of course. Oil is the most powerful, and if the Senate majority can prevail there, who knows."

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

You Can Smell the PEW from Here

It appears we have entered a new era in the fishing industry, with warrantless searches like this. Before, it was just dirty tricks by the industry 'winners' in the rationalization fight, like destroying computers, bullying at public meetings, and black-balling in the markets. The big fishing and processing corporations are run by non-boots-on-deck fishermen and have taken all they could get away with. Public servants have entered 'The Game of Thrones' in droves now it appears. 
If you examined law enforcement academy curriculum you might find a disturbing lack of disparity between surveilling known terrorists and folks simply being good citizens in our participatory political system. Or should I say our former participatory political system..People in power in even the smallest Alaska communities are loath to share anything they have and a well researched vote is getting rarer and rarer.. 

Fishermen of all sorts took their cue from the Dirty Harry approach (not that they needed much encouragement to fish dirty) and it was easy for the PEW Charitable Trust to see this as the main problem, but it isn't. Fisheries management should have started industry reform at the top and worked down.

And in a microcosm of industry vigilance gone awry, some Alaska Governor saw fit to take salmon fisheries enforcement away from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, who had some very conscionable 'wardens' and effective programs, and give it to the Alaska State Troopers, who have been hardly effective. And in fact the Troopers sadly dropped the ball on some recent famous fisheries violations. In fact they destroyed the evidence to protect the violator. IT'S NOT THE FAMILY FISHERMEN, (AND THEIR COMMUNITIES WHO YOU PUNISH) WHO IS AT GREATER FAULT HERE. If you did a study of who is catching and destroying the fish they don't have a permit to sell, I'd bet you'd find the VAST majority is caught by factory trawlers and other large multi-vessel fishing companies. And I'll further wager that PEW will never be the one to do that study, as it refutes the main catch share rationale that owners of the resource are better stewards of it..
This from one of my correspondents:

  "The old fellow in the article they raided looks Native American. Many native men & women are veterans who volunteered to risk their lives. This guy is in all likelihood merely standing up for the freedom he once fought to protect. The freedom of the individual. The antithesis of monopolistic rationalization.
  The rationalization binge began with the PEW Charitable Trust study on the sea & fisheries. Our oily Governor Knowles served on it with di-stink-tion. The PEW study was conceived in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. A poll at the time voted big oil as the greatest threat to the marine environment. Sun Oil, the parent of PEW, sought to alter that public perception with the study, adroitly shifting the burden to independent commercial fishermen as the true scourges of the sea.
  Fishermen who had just gone all out to clean up EXXON's oil spill, and attempt to salvage the coasts their livelihood depended on.They lost fisheries, marriages, even lives in the process. So Big Oil, out of gratitude for the millions of man hours spent by fishermen, crews, & coastal residents to save them form themselves, whose heroic efforts on their behalf the world applauded, now became the targets of corporate denigration by the PR gurus of the petroleum industry. And in (ex-Governor)Knowles case a PR screwyou.
  And as rationalization has taken hold, fewer numbers of fishermen have resulted in an eroded political base to protect their livelihoods at the ballot box; but the concentrated wealth of the allocation owners has greased the wheels of political justice to the point where they're even harassing sick old men who haven't the energy to stand up.
   The next time there is an Exxon Valdez in some remote area, who will be left to save Big Oil from itself? Fewer fishermen means fewer cleanup vessels in a time of emergency. It's like the parable of the farmer (or fisherman) and the snake. See, this farmer was driving his beat up truck down a dusty road when he saw an injured rattlesnake crying for help. So he told it not to worry. Took it home, the wife fed it soup and made a bed for it. Soon it waxed healthy, and took walks with the farmer. Just as the farmer was finally bidding it goodbye, the snake bit him. And as he lay dying, he asked the rattler,"How could you do this to me?" It answered, "YOU KNEW I WAS A SNAKE WHEN YOU PICKED ME UP".
   Come across any snakes lately?"

  Another view of one of the fishing industry's favorite snakes - "PEW was partially responsible for the state of the estimated 20 Billion dollar (art)collection before its acquisition. Former board members have stated that they believe the collection and its building was allowed to deteriorate in order to generate the crisis Pew needed to have the trust dissolved by the government and the collection moved. Pew has benefited financially via till-share from the relocation to museums which charge admission."

From: John Enge
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 9:43 AM
You guys in Nome, who have been tailed by the police and had your phones tapped for trying to bring transparency to local fisheries, can be thankful you haven't been harassed to the degree of these fishermen in the article below.
Sent: Saturday, March 31, 2012 9:44 AM
Subject: raids copy.pdf (application/pdf Object)