It has begun, another industry battle for the hearts and minds of Alaska’s people and for our shared resources. First there were the announcements of “new” North Slope expenditures by major producers, ConocoPhillips and BP ... mainly projects that had already been years in the planning. (Dare we hope that we have reporters who are capable of research and editors who do more than parrot industry press releases)?
Next, there was the “message test” polling, with questions about each North Slope producer. Followed by a couple of questions about Gov. Parnell (a former ConocoPhillips executive). Finally, the important five questions at the end testing our response to the main arguments in favor of Senate Bill 21 which recently passed our legislature. SB 21 gives oil producers billions in tax breaks with no benchmarks to meet, or timely review of how much new oil they are actually finding and producing. Multinational corporations asked for unconditional love and they got it from our new Republican-dominated legislature.
Many Alaskans believe that we are engaged in a business deal that can be modified as necessary to keep both parties happy while remembering that the Alaska Constitution requires resource wealth to benefit the citizens of Alaska. Senate Bill 21 essentially says “trust the producers, they have your best interests at heart.” We citizens were left with no recourse but to attempt to put the question on the ballot. In order for this to happen, we are attempting to gather over 40,000 signatures by mid- July. It seems we have struck a nerve and prompted a response from those who are happy to see Alaska remain an extractive state.
At a recent Alliance meeting (a political arm of Oil, Gas and Mineral interests) in Kenai, our new senator urged the group to get involved quickly to keep the petitions from getting enough signatures. So now we are invited for hot dogs and “the facts.” We can expect these groups to pour millions of dollars into fighting the petition and the ballot proposition in order to save the billions they were just given by our governor and legislature. They will up the ante. Perhaps steak and beer at the next event? Eventually champagne and caviar? Thanks to their friends in our legislature, multinational oil companies and their stockholders are laughing all the way to the bank.
Alaskans have previously stood up to the major corporate interests of their time. The canned salmon industry once “owned” Alaska and our wealth of protein made outside interests very wealthy. Now it is the world’s largest petroleum corporations that have gained control. Let’s wrest our state back! Why not give voters a chance to weigh in on such a momentous decision? It is our permanent fund earnings account, our budget reserve and our schools, parks, and roads that will suffer because of the giveaway.
Time is short. Only registered voters can sign the petition to put the question of repealing SB21 on the fall 2014 ballot. Donna, Robin and Peggy at River City Books are carrying petitions. You will also find petitions at major events or you can call 262-6298.