By Dirk Nelson
History reveals why the multi-national oil corporations don’t merit the kind of trust extended to them by SB21. It legally requires – nothing – in increased throughput of oil or revenues to Alaska. I will be voting Yes to repeal SB 21 on Aug. 19
Let’s review just a portion of the major producers’ tainted history. There are some ethical questions at the core.
Go. Parnell pushed passage of SB21 in the Senate, winning by one vote, with two senators voting despite ethics conflicts concerning their employment with Conoco Philips. Pete Kelly voiced the objection to the ethics rules which would have caused the two Conoco senators to abstain from voting.
In 2013 those supporting SB21 promised increased oil throughput of 1,000,000 bbls/day; fallacies which are no longer uttered. They lied to win.
SB21 represents unwarranted trust in contractual relationships with the major producers. Examples include:
SB21 creates barriers for independent producers attempting operations on the North Slope, reinforcing the Big 3’s quasi-monopoly they’ve enjoyed for decades. North Slope competition, which was in place under ACES, benefits Alaska, but not the Big 3.
In the 1970s and 80s there was the Amerada Hess case; the producers were caught under-valuing our oil, cheating us of our share of its value. It took decades to resolve that theft.
Later came the TAPS settlement; the Big 3 had routinely over-charged independent operators for transporting their oil through the pipeline. Substantial time and money was spent to force the Producers toward honesty – again.
Following those cases were regulatory hearings wherein BP was found to have taken deductions multiple times. Later they’d be found to have inflated renovation costs, and attempting to drive up tariffs again.
Then came the Doyon case; the pouring of over 500 barrels of waste down dry wells on the North Slope. Those convicted named Randy Ruedrich as their instructor in that crime. BP was fined for their hesitation in reporting.
During the corruption investigations, then-CEO Jim Bowles (Conoco) sat in a Baranof Hotel room, being recorded by the FBI, as Bill Allen of VECO discussed the scheme to rig legislation, linking the Big 3 to VECO’s legislative bribery scheme involving a tax structure nearly identical to the tax structure within SB21, and resulting in State legislators being sentenced to prison.
Since 2006, the Producers have appealed the TAPS property evaluations and assessments every year, losing every appeal. The property owners in affected communities, including Fairbanks, have footed the bill for legal representation to battle Alyeska’s bogus claims. The courts have annually ruled in favor of significantly higher evaluations than those sought by Alyeska (and the Parnell Administration).
During petitioning for ballot status for the referendum, the Big 3 routinely claimed to be paying 35 percent in Federal Corporate withholding taxes. The federal GAO published research indicating the greatest they paid was 11 percent, and as little as zero percent.
Econ 1 presented data that claimed North Dakota is more profitable for the Producers, but managed to omit fees paid to property owners there, as well as transport costs. That fallacy was set straight when Sen. Stedman, R-Sitka, presented his data to the Senate Finance Committee, including those numbers omitted by Econ 1. Comparing North Dakota’s system to SB21, using Alaska’s FY2015 throughput forecast, North Dakota would receive approximately $1.45 Billion dollars more than Alaska.
BP now tells us they maintain over 80 percent Alaska-hire. They leave out the fact that most labor on the Slope is contracted; the rate of Outside hire there ranges from 50-70 percent, whether under ACES or under SB21.
Conoco, Exxon and BP, through ‘No on 1,’ flood our televisions and radios with $12 million in advertising, trying to convince Alaskan voters it benefits us to relinquish control of our hydro-carbon resources. Conoco and BP tell us they’re Alaska’s Oil Company, but their millions in checks for ads are signed in Texas, Los Angeles and London.
Then there’s the suspect numbers used to arrive at Scott Goldsmith’s conclusions in a “study” Northrim paid $100,000.00 for cherry-picking at its finest.
The history of these companies in Alaska emphasizes why control over our resources should remain in the hands of Alaskans, not the multi-national corporations. It is our oil and the revenue should remain here, not be exported to Texas, L.A. or London.
That’s why I’ll be voting “Yes!” on Proposition 1 on Aug. 19.
It’s OUR oil and we deserve better!!
Dirk Nelson is a 36-year Alaska resident, a former licensed clinical social worker, former licensed marriage and family therapist, married for 25 years, father of three Alaska-born children, a gardener, hunter, fisher-person, and reluctant political activist residing not too far from Fairbanks.
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