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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Environmental Skulduggery is Afoot in Alaska

TALL TALES from Juneau… and BEYOND!



Reports are coming from far and wide that the new Senate Majority response to Alaskans who suggest revamping our oil tax credit structure is more or less this: “Oh, we got rid of oil tax credits. They’re gone. They don’t exist anymore. So… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Sorry, we call moose nuggets on that one. If anyone tries to flim-flam you with the “we don’t do that anymore” nonsense, here’s the deal. Cathy Giessel, Lora Reinbold, Shelley Hughes and others are regurgitating a bizarre talking point, and they are referring to one type of credit only. And they hope that you are confused, and let it go, while somehow also believing that Democrats are to blame. Nice try.

The other tax credits called “deductible oil tax credits” are alive and kicking and are preventing over a billion dollars a year from making it into our coffers. Wouldn’t a billion dollars be nice about now? If we eliminated the $1.1 billion in deductible oil tax credits that go mostly to the Big 3 oil companies, we would still be TWICE as profitable for those companies than our nearest competitor. ConocoPhillips reported a net income of $26.18 for each barrel of oil produced in Alaska, the highest amount on the planet. Asia Pacific/Middle East came in next at $13.01 a barrel – less than half the profit. But you don’t see anyone worrying they’re going to pick up stakes from the Middle East. Read up HERE, and don’t believe the misinformation. And start telling your representatives in Juneau that we need to start talking about how we are subsidizing the wealthiest corporations on the planet at the expense of education, health care, ferries, and our people.


Tim Collier (above), the CEO of the Pebble Partnership, said regarding the proposed Pebble Mine – in which the project at the headwaters of the largest wild salmon fishery on the planet would produce millions of tons of toxic, fish-destroying waste that must be stored on site forever – that the containment of tailings would be “fail safe.” Safe from failure. FOREVER. Riiight. He also accused environmental groups who are fighting on behalf of our wild salmon of randomly picking Pebble as a “cause célèbre” because, and I quote, “No one gives a rat’s ass what happens in Alaska.” Doesn’t that make you feel better – that the guy promising us a ForeverDam™ also thinks no one will give a rat’s ass if it fails? Because, it’s just Alaska. Yes, even though you said it in Washington, Tim Collier, we can still hear you up here. But thanks for making it clear where you stand.


In 2006, Alaskans voted on a ballot initiative that citizens worked extremely hard to get on the ballot, that we would use a cruise ship passenger fee to fund a program called Ocean Rangers. The Ocean Rangers monitor cruise ships to make sure they aren’t dumping illegal sludge into Alaska’s pristine waterways. We had reason to worry because the cruise ship industry is not known for self-policing and has a long list of repeat felonies concerning environmental violations of just this kind. In 2018, Ocean Rangers were aboard about two-thirds of the time, reporting potential problems to the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Coast Guard. Last year, they reported 189 potential environmental violations. But, get this – the Dunleavy administration wants to cut the program (which the state doesn’t have to pay for) anyway, and here’s their rationale: Well, we don’t have “oil rangers” or “mining rangers” so… it’s just not fair to the cruise ship industry. That’s what they said.


A record number of Alaskans signed up for public testimony this week to speak in support of the ferry system. This, too, is on the chopping block after temporary Outside Budget Director Donna Arduin pointed out how much more expensive it was to maintain the Marine Highway per mile than the regular land one. Arduin wasn’t present for the testimony but she might have learned a little something about Alaska. Just as the rest of Alaska isn’t required to have the highway system become a money-making operation, neither should Southeast Alaskans for whom the Marine Highway System IS THE HIGHWAY SYSTEM. Hundreds of residents from communities across the state testified about how without the ferries, coastal Alaska would collapse. Stories ranged from the necessity of ferries for small businesses, and tourism, to emotional testimony about ferries transporting new moms and babies back home from the hospital, and carrying the deceased to the morgue in Juneau. Testimony had to be cut to one minute, and is still continuing.  It shouldn’t have to be said, but Alaskans should not have to go before their government to literally beg for essential services. And yet, here we are.


Sen. Dan Sullivan has a lot to say about the Green New Deal. He says it’s an important issue that focuses on the future and where the country is going. “What is the essence of America?” he asks his colleagues. “It’s freedom and liberty, things that proposals like the Green New Deal would undermine.” Sullivan then goes on to talk about oil and gas development in Alaska, as you might expect. But instead of also extolling our amazing potential for wind power, hydrothermal, tidal, solar, and biomass, he gives only lip service calling them all “renewables” but laments that the Green New Deal would kill “hundreds of years-worth of natural gas.” The oil and gas industries “literally save lives” he says, citing the increase in life expectancy of Alaskans on the North Slope between 1980 and today. “That’s a pretty important statistic – life expectancy. It doesn’t get more important than that. …we’ve created the ability for people to actually live longer, and I challenge my colleagues to come up with a better or more important statistic than that.” So, he’s pretty clear that life expectancy is the golden statistic – what we must look to when we measure success or failure. We must focus on the future, and where our country is going. And life expectancy –”there is no better or more important statistic than that.”  In the spirit of the Senator’s message, we present the following reading material.


The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States

Climate Impacts on Human Health –

Climate Effects on Health –

First study to examine long-term effects of climate change on life expectancy

New Study Calculates Years of Life Lost to Extreme Temperature


There are dozens more.

Sullivan can’t blame his position on being an Alaskan, or being a Republican, or being from a fossil fuel state either because his Alaskan/Republican colleague in the Senate just coauthored an opinion with a Democratic Senator from West Virginia titled “It’s time to act on climate change.” He can put that on his reading list too. Here’s a blurb, and welcome to the future.

“There is no question that climate change is real or that human activities are driving much of it. We are seeing the impacts in our home states. Scientists tell us that the Arctic is warming at twice the rateof the rest of the world. Rising temperatures and diminishing sea ice on Alaska’s shores are affecting our fisheries and forcing some remote communities to seek partial or total relocation. In summer 2016, West Virginia experienced unprecedented flooding that killed 23 residents and inflicted tremendous damage across the state.”


And on a final note, a candidate for Anchorage School Board called in to the Senate Education Committee today because he was burning to talk about something. He wants to be SURE that we take steps to make it clear in the Constitution that when we talk about education that means K-12 ONLY. None of this Pre-K, HeadStart stuff. Our children don’t need to set foot in a school until they’re 7 years old. PERIOD. For those taking notes, that would be David Nees who is taking time to call in to make sure we delegitimize preschool. Just who we need setting education policy for our children. He’s running against Starr Marsett for the Anchorage School Board, Seat B.



This article is reposted with permission from the Alaska Democratic Party

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One Response to “Environmental Skulduggery is Afoot in Alaska”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    I’m guessing the Pebble Partnership spokesperson has never heard of nor understands what volcanoes are capable of and Alaska has them. There is not a dam or berm or whatever you want to call them that will not fail at some point. Just as sure as a pipeline will leak more than imagined in its lifetime.

    As for climate change, Senator Mike Lee, wingnut of Utah claims having more kids will fix it.

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