Reader: Time to educate America

Posted: Friday, December 30, 2005

Dec. 21, the U.S. Congress failed, after almost three decades to open ANWR for oil exploration. Over that time, the federal government has spent trillions of dollars defending the Middle East to assure the continued access to this foreign oil while ignoring our most promising potential domestic source of gasoline.

The failure in this case does not fall on Alaska s Congressional delegation. Ted, Lisa and Don have acted in Alaska’s and the nation’s best interest and worked tirelessly to overcome the unfounded opposition of the environmental lobby.

The failure is ours as Alaskans for not educating the American public on the ability of the state and industry to explore, and potentially develop, the ANWR oil resource. We simply have allowed the green’s money to overwhelm our outreach and message.

It is in this context that I propose the Alaska Legislature consider imposing a one dollar per barrel tax on crude oil shipped from Alaska to provide the funding of a national education effort on the use of the federal lands to provide secure oil supplies in the face of dwindling domestic production.

I’ve thought the tax might be called the “Alaska’s Not Wanted Resources” tax — ANWR Tax for short. Crude oil refined or used in Alaska would not be subject to the tax, so consumers outside Alaska would be directly contributing to their own education on this major energy policy choice.

The tax receipts could be appropriated by the Legislature to a special state ANWR Education Authority that would be responsible for program direction and contractor selections. An appointed citizen board of directors could balance a number of options involving scientific and economic studies of impacts, as well as, informational outreach and media programs in Washington, D.C., and key consumer-manufacturing states. The authority should be able to function with a small staff and a contractor work force with a majority of Alaska contractors and companies.

I’m confident that if this level of educational outreach from Alaska had been undertaken over the last few years, the U.S. Congress would not have made such a horrific mistake as not advancing the exploration and development of ANWR.

Harold Heinze


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