To the editor: While Mike Dunleavy’s vetoes of the state budget threaten to rip apart the fabric of Alaska life, the Legislature dithers. They couldn’t even decide where to meet to discuss the problem. This is especially disheartening when there is a relatively simple answer to beginning to fix our financial woes.
In 2013, a gerrymandered Legislature passed Senate Bill 21, and it was signed into law by an ex-ConocoPhillips executive — Gov. Sean Parnell. SB 21 gave the oil industry many billions of dollars, including $1.2 billion this year and many billions more in years to come to increase oil flow through the oil pipeline and produce Alaska jobs.
How has that worked for us? Alyeska’s statistics indicate pipeline flow has decreased from 513,441 barrels per day in 2014 to less than 500,000 today. State of Alaska employment statistics show monthly oil industry employment has fallen from 14,800 to 9,400 in the same period, a decrease of 36%. Alaska’s subsidy of Big Oil has resulted in less oil through the pipeline and a drastic loss of oil industry jobs, a business plan that has inflated oil company profits and will devastate Alaska’s economy and way of life.
How has the oil industry fared since the recent drop in oil prices? As an example, ConocoPhillips earned $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2019, enough free cash flow to spend $800 million to repurchase stock shares to increase share price and executive bonuses. And yet the Legislature still wants to send the oil industry $1.2 billion more. The oil industry prospers while Alaskans suffer.
The solution is obvious. Don’t dither. Repeal SB 21 and allow Alaskans to get full value for their resources. The oil companies are back, and it’s time to bring Alaskans back.