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Who is looking out for Alaska's interests in refinery negotiations?

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2003

Should Alaska negotiate contracts with felonious companies?

Gov. Frank Murkowski is negotiating with a potential buyer of state royalty oil. Let's hope he

uses a sharp pencil, even sharper lawyers, and is ever vigilant with his regulators. Maybe he should rethink the whole idea.

Murkowski announced that Flint Hills Resources of Wichita, Kan., is negotiating with Williams to purchase its refinery and other assets in Alaska, including a stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline. He says he is negotiating a contract for a larger share of royalty oil for this wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc.

The Department of Justice won indictments against Koch Industries on 97 counts of violating federal clean air and hazardous waste laws. Government prosecutors charged the company with intentionally releasing benzene from its refineries and lying about it to regulators.

In other action, Koch Industries was found guilty by a federal jury of stealing royalty oil by underreporting the amount and quality of oil produced in its operations on federal and tribal lands. Should we provide the opportunity for them to try to steal from us?

It has also been found that Koch Industries pipelines were responsible for more than 300 oil spills in five states and gas line explosion deaths.

After recent contributions of around $800,000 to George W. Bush and the Repub-licans, the new Ashcroft Justice Department has reached "slap on the wrist" settlements with Koch. No jail time for felony offenses, no admission of guilt on some very serious crimes. There were fines, but GW just awarded them an 8 million barrel contract to refill the petroleum reserves.

Are we negotiating in the best interests of our state and its citizens? If things go terribly wrong,

Koch, it seems, has its protectors. Do we?

Paul Zimmerman, Kasilof



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