Since oil started flowing through the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline, Alaska has been getting royalties and taxes from the producers. Alaska's government, our education system, our infrastructure, and many community projects depend on revenues from oil production. Oil is critical to the lifestyle we have built as a community and as a state.
We have increased our tax rate on oil a number of times - all of them with acronyms like ELF and PPT. In 2007 we adopted the most recent increase called ACES, or Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share. Almost immediately, many companies providing support services to Alaska's North Slope producers saw a slowdown in some of their work, many of who testified at hearings about their individual experiences.
ACES was well intentioned and did a good job of spurring the arrival of new explorers like Great Bear, Repsol, Armstrong Oil and others into the Alaska market, but they are only a fraction of the equation. Exploration tax credits help these companies reduce their risk to explore in a challenging environment in remote locations. These same explorers are now saying that they will continue to explore, but they need to see a reduction in production taxes before they start to produce.
My colleagues, many other Alaskans and I support changes to ACES. We continue to hear about investments worldwide where producers are dedicating large amounts of capital to bring more oil into production in other locations. I believe that ACES went too far and needs to be changed. Most point to the progressivity curve and support some modification to the tax structure at high oil prices.
Having lived in Alaska for more than 50 years, I enjoy the traditional hobbies that most residents do: fishing, hunting and recreating. My children enjoy the Alaska adventure today and I want my grandchildren to have these same opportunities.
Alaska has always been a resource based economy and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. In the past 25 years we have seen a number of world class mines move through development and into production. Usibelli Coal was mining when I was a child, but Greens Creek, Kensington, Red Dog, Fort Knox and Pogo are newer mines that are examples of putting Alaskans to work. They are developments most communities are proud to talk about. In spite of opposition by environmentalists, these mines went through the permitting process and continue to be held to high environmental standards.
Pebble should receive a proper and thorough review by our state and federal governments. The risks are great and the reward could be significant if done correctly.
With a world-class fishery at stake, we must get it right the first time. There is no room for error.
In addition to enjoying the great outdoors, I also want my children to be able to benefit from the economic opportunities Alaska has provided me. I am concerned our present budget policies are not sustainable. Developing a long term financial plan will help Alaska focus on a common vision for the future and the best solutions to get us there. Please go to www.alaskabudget.com to view some of the historical work regarding fiscal policy planning as well as a look at where Alaska's money comes from and how it is spent.
Appropriate state support for education, transportation and public safety are critical to our future. Elected representatives need to have an open dialogue that reflects all interested parties, not limiting participation to one perspective. We must move beyond political sound bites and have a discussion with Alaskans about the real opportunities and challenges we face.
Rep. Anna Fairclough, a former Anchorage Assemblywoman, has served in the state House of Representatives since 2007. She is the Republican candidate for Senate District M, which includes parts of East Anchorage and Eagle River.
By REP. ANNA FAIRCLOUGH