To the editor: The unprecedented sale of British Petroleum’s Alaska assets to Hilcorp, LLC, including its majority stake in the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, is moving along with as yet little scrutiny by our legislators. However, the combination of Hilcorp’s reprehensible environmental and workplace safety legacy in Alaska as well as its lack of financial transparency ought to raise red flags for all Alaskans. Here are some of the questions I’m asking legislators to investigate:
• Does Hilcorp have enough capital to handle a major environmental catastrophe? As a private company, it is not required to reveal its assets and is actively petitioning to keep them private from auditors. Without this information, Alaskans place themselves at risk of having to clean up Hilcorp’s mess in the event of a spill or disaster.
• Will Hilcorp hire in-state, unionized workers or will thousands of hardworking Alaskans risk losing their jobs or face employment with decreased wages and benefits?
• As an LLC, Hilcorp will not pay the corporate income tax paid by BP. With our budget already strapped, how will Alaska make up for the $30 million per year in tax revenues? How can we ensure Hilcorp pays its fair share for doing business in Alaska?
• Oil is the driver of our present economy, but it is not our future. With the oil flow declining, we need to plan for the decommissioning of the pipeline. Although Hilcorp will have a controlling ownership share in the pipeline, BP will retain the responsibility for dismantling and cleaning up after the pipeline. With no assets remaining in Alaska, how will the state hold BP accountable for this work? Is BP keeping this responsibility because Hilcorp can’t afford it? Additionally, BP maintains this money exists but has not disclosed where the money is held. Alaskans need to know where this money is to ensure it is safe and accessible when we inevitably need it.
Alaskans deserve answers to these questions. There is limited time before this deal is finalized to ensure that measures are in place to protect Alaska’s people and lands. Our legislators need to take action now, hold hearings and stand up for the future of Alaska.