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Alex DeMarban

A multimillion-dollar tussle that started with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill moved closer to completion last week when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that attorney fees awarded following litigation should typically reflect local rates -- not costly Outside ones -- so Alaskans aren’t discouraged from filing lawsuits.

The Supreme Court’s judgment stems from a larger issue settled in 2006, when ExxonMobil agreed to pay $8 million to Nautilus Marine Enterprises and Cook Inlet Processing, seafood processors that lost work when the Exxon Valdez tanker bled crude oil into Alaska waters, said Charlie Coe, an attorney for Nautilus.

Both processors are no longer in operation, he said...

Alex DeMarban

Regions of Alaska where the oil industry has its deepest roots voted in favor of the contentious oil production tax cut known as Senate Bill 21, but there were exceptions, including Fairbanks, where five of six districts supported the law's repeal.

Meanwhile, Southcentral Alaska and the North Slope Borough -- home to communities with strong ties to the oil industry -- voted in Tuesday's primary election to keep Senate Bill 21 in place.

“Generally it’s the communities who can see with their own eyes the benefits that industry provides that we won,” said Matt Larkin, an Anchorage political consultant with Dittman Research who worked against the repeal. “And it’s the areas where the industry is less prevalent that we lost, like Kodiak, Juneau and Southeast.”...

Alex DeMarban

With his landmark tax legislation expected to survive Tuesday night’s vote, Gov. Sean Parnell says it’s now time for the oil industry to increase its investment in oil field projects that create jobs for Alaskans.

As soon as he saw Senate Bill 21, or the More Alaska Production Act, was winning decisively Wednesday morning, Parnell began to get excited about the potential opportunities for Alaskans, he said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Immediately what came to my mind is it’s now time for companies to put their money where their mouth is, move those billions of dollars into work for Alaskans, and I began to get excited about the potential for Alaskans,” he said...

Alex DeMarban

Alaskans will issue a final decision Tuesday on a controversial new oil tax regime, and pick a Republican challenger to Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

Tuesday’s decisions come after the most expensive primary campaign in Alaska history, with the referendum on a 2013 oil tax cut drawing some $15 million in spending, almost entirely from industry groups trying to keep the new tax system in place, and more than $15 million from the campaigns of the GOP Senate candidates, along with their allies and opponents.

Voters will also choose party nominees for state races and a dozen races for seats in the state Legislature.

Statewide, more than 400 polling places open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and close at 8 p.m...

Nathaniel Herz,Alex DeMarban,Richard Mauer

A Friday email blast from a group opposed to Ballot Measure 1 offers a window into efforts to rally support before next week’s vote on Alaska’s oil tax, with the group suggesting that employers arrange rides to polls and “impress on” workers how their vote could affect their jobs and families.

The email seeking help from Senate Bill 21 supporters was sent by Jim Jansen, co-chair of Keep Alaska Competitive -- Vote No on 1. On Friday, it reached some 600 businesses with tens of thousands of employees. Recipients include Alaska Airlines, GCI and six Native corporations, including ASRC and Doyon Ltd., Jansen said...

Alex DeMarban

A chorus of independent oil companies says credits under Alaska’s new oil-tax law make development of their projects more likely than under the former tax but a top critic of Senate Bill 21 said those companies moved toward the production phase thanks to generous credits provided by Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share.

Among the companies saying Senate Bill 21 better fits their plans is Great Bear Petroleum, where the man who helped lead the charge to implement former Gov. Sarah Palin’s tax law, known as ACES, now works.

Pat Galvin, Palin's former revenue commissioner, said Great Bear completed an economic modeling analysis that shows Senate Bill 21 will be better than ACES if the company finds a producible discovery in its hunt for oil off the Dalton Highway...

Alex DeMarban

Former Gov. Sarah Palin has sprung back into Alaska politics after a long hiatus, weighing in on her landmark oil-tax legislation, which voters will soon consider reinstating. In the process, she's taking jabs at her replacement, Gov. Sean Parnell, and the lawmakers she says let “Big Oil” regain control of the Alaska political process.

Palin, who hiked taxes on the state’s oil producers in 2007 with Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, reminds listeners in a chatty 18-minute video on her new TV channel not to be “suckered” “bamboozled” and “buffaloed” by the likes of ExxonMobil and other oil companies yet again...

Alex DeMarban

It might be a stretch to say the debate Tuesday night at the Bear Tooth Theatrepub made oil taxes sexy, but at least the popular Anchorage venue attracted a sell-out crowd and prompted a back-and-forth that was, well, more fluid than some of the past debates on the topic.

The event combined two of Alaska’s favorite liquids, oil and beer, joked moderator Steve Johnson, debate coach for the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Then the questions flew.

On Tuesday, Alaskans will decide whether to reinstate the former oil production tax law, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, or keep its 2014 replacement, the More Alaska Production Act or Senate Bill 21.

The topic at the trendy pub and grill centered on trust...

Alex DeMarban

Alaska voters on Aug. 19 will decide one of the most critical issues in state history. They'll choose the complex law that will produce most of Alaska's tax revenue in the coming years.

Will they pick the More Alaska Production Act? The law was passed in 2013, with supporters arguing it would encourage greater oil production.

Or will voters select Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share, the old law that brought the state billions of extra dollars but slashed profits for the state’s oil producers?

One thing is certain: The facts seem to get squishier by the day...

Alex DeMarban

The former oil-production tax system that Alaskans will soon consider reinstating would bring the state $1.3 billion more than its replacement over the next five years, according to an analysis by an economics professor with the Institute of Social and Economic Research...

Alex DeMarban