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Letter to the Editor

On the hook for TAPS?

To the editor: Just a theory: Back when I was young man, three of the largest multinational oil companies in the world made a deal with the state of Alaska to extract, transport and sell our oil. Part of that deal was that when the party was over, they would clean up the mess and leave the state as it had been before they came. No big deal. Seemed like a small price to pay for trillions of dollars of profits.

Fast forward 40-plus years and the oil is slowing down, the infrastructure is old and nonrenewables are falling from favor. The far-off concept of spending billions of dollars to clean up the mess is not so far off anymore.

So, how could these huge, wealthy, companies wriggle out of that obligation? Well, what if they divest their holdings into smaller companies of questionable assets so that when the party is finally over and it is time to start the clean up, these small companies just throw up their hands and say “we’re broke, sue us”? And since they have little or no assets, we (the state of Alaska) are stuck with the mess.

You might ask, “Why would those small companies agree to take on such liabilities?” And I might suggest that if you have enough money to buy an entire state Legislature for most of the past 40 years, you probably have enough to grease a few palms (or offshore accounts as the case may be) to make such a thing happen. And since they (arguably) already own the Legislature, they want the state to allow these kinds of divestments with no scrutiny of the assets of these small companies. i.e, Hilcorp. Just a theory, you understand. I guess time will tell if there is any truth to it.

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