This week President Obama proposed keeping ANWR off limits to drilling. I have a different view on the Coastal Plain of ANWR. But, at the outset, let’s admit the truth. State politicians love to say they can open ANWR, when opening this federal land is in fact a Congressional decision the state has no control over (our Congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, have always voted to open the Coastal Plain of ANWR).
Every session we send in a letter calling for the opening of ANWR. I suspect our letter doesn’t make it by the intern in most Congressional offices. Congress knows Alaska wants the Coastal Plain of ANWR open for drilling because our Congressional delegation in the past six years (Lisa Murkowski, Mark Begich, and Don Young) has told them that.
But here’s a big problem: under Governor Parnell’s massive oil tax rollback, this incredibly oil-rich basin, which would be developed even under a higher oil tax, is worth way less in revenue to support our schools, roads, energy projects and ability to build a vibrant economy.
How little? Even at high oil prices Scott Goldsmith admits that all fields turned into production units after 2002 (that’s all ANWR fields) pay so low a production tax that it produces a negative or near zero net present value. No private company sells its products for a zero net present value, and we should not protect you, our shareholders, less responsibly than a private company protects its shareholders.
SB 21 needs to be fixed. It will never produce a surplus in revenue so we can build back our dwindling savings under rules that get us negative production tax revenue at low prices, and a near zero or negative net present value even at high prices.
I have asked Governor Walker’s administration to give us the truth about how SB 21 is working for Alaska, now that the misleading summer campaign on that law is over. There are those calling to spend the Permanent Fund’s earnings. I think we should have a fair oil tax, and get what Jay Hammond reminded us was the constitutional mandate – the “maximum benefit from our resources” – before ever threatening individual Alaskans with a cut to their dividend.
I believe we should open the Coastal Plain of ANWR to responsible drilling (we could agree to limit the number of drill pads given our ability to drill horizontally for miles under newer technology). But I don’t believe this oil, always advertised as valuable, should be given away for a song. My job is to stand up for Alaskans, not just the oil companies that want to take our resources for as low a price as possible.
As always, let us know if we can help.