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."