I remember 1973 and the debate over the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. At that time, one of the concerns I had was the political impact of Big Oil on Alaska’s governance. Would the International Corporations treat Alaska like a colony?
We now have four decades of history to answer that query. Few would question the benefits of oil development and the royalty and tax money that has paid for much of the State’s infrastructure, government operations, and permanent fund savings account. The industry has brought jobs, opportunity, and in some respects, positive community involvement.
On the negative side, we have also seen the Amerada Hess case, in which the oil corporations purposefully shirked on their taxes; the abuse of ELF (economic limit factor), the tax break for oil companies; the Corrupt Bastards Club — the 2007-2009 bribery of state officials; and the most recent: the use of unconstitutional redistricting to elect oil company employees and friendly legislators to award themselves a huge tax cut.
We expect companies to act in their self-interest. We should even expect them to lobby hard for special treatment, but we should not put up with companies infiltrating key government positions by undermining democratic institutions and by heavy handed political spending.
We need to re-affirm our sovereignty. Alaska needs a cooperative but guarded approach in its relationships with the oil industry. Hollis French, as a member of the Senate bi-partisan coalition, has shown that he can right the Ship-of-State. Support Hollis French for Governor.