Letter needs more support

Posted: Thursday, June 01, 2006

I am impressed by William Phillips’ diligence and passion which is obvious in his letters to the editor.

I did note some shortfalls in his latest letter, though (Clarion, May 25).

William made several accusations about a lot of people from fraud to bribery to believing what the big oil companies in Alaska are claiming about themselves. He even included one example about one person, Ben Stevens, but even then, failed to produce facts that prove Stevens did not earn the alleged $250,000 consultant fees from VECO. I have no particular knowledge of Stevens and VECO’s business.

Other than that, William provided no data, no facts, no other numbers to support his accusations. I would either support William or answer him if I knew how and where he got this information, but there is nothing there to go on.

I do, however, know some stuff. Here is some of it:

1. Big oil companies did not earn billions of dollars in Alaska during the first quarter of 2006. BP and ConocoPhillips earned nearly all of their 11 or 12 billion dollar combined profits outside of Alaska. They do not break down profit by area on their Web sites, but I am guessing their combined profit in Alaska to be between a half billion to 1 billion dollars (yes, it’s an informed guess).

If worldwide profit is the standard for Alaska’s Legislature to use for taxing purposes, they should take a look at Kroger, Daimler Chrysler, GE, GM, Ford and other giant companies doing business in Alaska.

2. Lawmakers have already made appropriations contingent on funds from tax increases on big oil. Total fiscal spending for fiscal year (FY) 2007 (beginning July 1, 2006) is $8.535 billion compared to $7.431 billion in FY 2006. That’s close to plus 15 percent.

3. Ben Stevens’ alleged consultant fees are peanuts compared to the Legislature’s consultant, Richard Harper of Econ One Research, at $1.5 million through 2006.

4. Another Legislature consultant, Don Shepler, will earn $400,000 for Greenberg Traug, LLP of Washington, D.C.

5. James Barnes of Barnes and Cascio, LLP, Houston gets to take home $200,000 of Alaska’s money.

6. Jim Eason, an Alaskan and former director of the Division of Oil and Gas, will spend his $175,000 in Alaska, I suppose.

Now for the coup de gras, OK, there is no coup de gras. I am an oil company employee. I am proud of the company I work for, ConocoPhillips.

Everything I have written is from my personal research and is my own view of the issues. I do not speak for ConocoPhillips management. I have not been asked or pressured to write anything in support of the oil industry.

No offense intended, William. I may take another opportunity and research how much big oil gives to Alaskans. Some might even offer to trade their dividend to keep getting that. Not me, though, I want both.

Cliff Bouchard


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