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Broad Coalition Launches Campaign to Promote ACES Fix

Anchorage, Alaska – A coalition of Alaska organizations and individuals interested in a strengthening Alaska’s economy kicked off a campaign to promote the need to fix Alaska’s oil tax policy. The Make Alaska Competitive Coalition intends to educate Alaskans about the negative impacts the current oil production tax has on Alaska jobs and businesses.

“We’re not arguing for the state to give the oil industry a handout,” said former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, member of the Make Alaska Competitive Steering Committee. “What we need is for the state to adopt a tax structure that encourages jobs and investment in Alaska. We need policies that work so Alaskans can go to work.”

Some Department of Labor statistics show a loss of 1,700 jobs in Alaska’s oil and gas industry in the last two years. At a time when the industry is investing heavily in other U.S. states and foreign countries, it is not investing in Alaska to find new sources of energy.

“Alaska must remain a competitive environment for oil companies to do business. If not, we all lose,” said Jim Jansen, CEO of Lynden and co-chair of the Make Alaska Competitive Coalition. “We are already starting to see the oil companies take their investment dollars elsewhere. This is a time when we should be encouraging investment in Alaska, not taxing the industry to death.”

The Make Alaska Competitive Coalition kicked off its campaign at a business rally at Dowland-Bach Corporation, an Anchorage company with 25 years of experience manufacturing wellhead control systems and fabricating steel. The Coalition is made up of businesses, labor organizations, trade organizations and individual Alaskans who rely on a strong economy for good jobs, commerce and healthy communities. The coalition commits it will not accept any funding or support from oil producers.

“This is not big oil sending the message. This is your economy talking,” said Mark Hamilton, former University of Alaska president. “The trans-Alaska oil pipeline is two-thirds empty and exploration activity on the North Slope is vanishing. This should be alarming to Alaskans and we intend to make sure the public is aware.”

This winter, only one exploration well is being drilled on the North Slope. Last year, ConocoPhillips, Alaska’s most prolific explorer, did not drill a single exploration well for the first time in 45 years. It won’t drill a well this year, either. Meanwhile, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline continues to decline, at rate of 7 percent in 2010. While the oil industry pays more than 85 percent of state government at today’s oil prices, there are no efforts to ensure the industry is healthy and encourage that revenue stream to be sustainable.

“It’s a pretty simple equation. If the trend continues there will be less activity, fewer supplies will need to be hauled, construction projects will decline and the bottom line – fewer jobs for our members,” said Rick Boyles, secretary-treasurer of the Alaska Teamsters Local 959 and member of the Make Alaska Competitive Steering Committee “We hope the public becomes more aware of the need to fix ACES and does more to encourage the oil industry to invest in Alaska.”

The Make it Alaska Competitive Coalition encourages all Alaskans to add their voice to the chorus, visit the website, www.MakeAlaskaCompetitive.com, and sign on to become a member.

 

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