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March 1 Press Conference Notes: Governor Parnell

The Governor hosted his second press availability of the legislative session today at 11:00 a.m. What follows is a general transcription.

The event was held in the governor’s 3rd Floor Conference Room.

Speakers: Governor Parnell, Revenue Commissioner Bryan Butcher

Reporters present: Becky Bohrer (Associated Press,) Rebecca Braun (Budget Report,) Dave Donaldson (APRN,) Pat Forgey (Empire,) Lisa Demer (Daily News,) Dave Donaldson (APRN,) Dan Fiorucci (KTUU,) Bob Tkacz (Laws for the Sea)

OPENING REMARKS

Governor Parnell said he’s pleased the Senate Resources Committee allowed public comment, and that it was mostly favoring reform. He said he’s meeting with House and Senate leaders about moving the supplemental budget, especially the BRAC consultation money. He lightly recapped a meeting he had yesterday with the Interior delegation about energy relief and long-term goals.

 

OPEN TO Q&A WITH REPORTERS

Q: (Becky Bohrer) Is the senate resources proposal “meaningful” oil tax reform?
A: Some of the amendments are, yes; the ones similar to HB 110. But you have to talk about it the versions here: the CS, the 18 amendments, the word of another CS and even more amendments. We’ll wait and see before we measure it.

Q: (Tkacz) Did you have to fight for public testimony?
A: Yes, it wasn’t originally included and I went to the co-chairs and requested it. I’m grateful they listened and grateful to those Alaskans who participated.

Q: (Lisa Demer) What happened with Mark Fish?
A: I heard he resigned. Honestly, I learned more by reading about it this morning.

Q: Did you have concerns? With either him or the process?
A: No.

Q: How do you vet people?
A: Jason Hooley has a rigorous process – you’d need to speak to him. But that’s also only one part of the larger legislative process for confirmations. It needs to happen and its important.

Q: (Dan Fiorucci) Do you have any plans or thoughts about gasoline prices rising far north of $4/gallon?
A: Two things: I dropped a bill to suspend the motor fuel tax to offer some small relief to Alaskans, and I offered House Bill 110.

Q: (Rebecca Braun) What thoughts do you have for the senate finance changes to SB144 on immunizations, where they added every federally-covered shot?
A: No. I haven’t seen it.

Q: (Forgey) At today’s prices, what are the profits per barrel for oil companies and how much is too much or just right?

A: The question is – how will they spend it? They’ll invest where the better return is and unfortunately right now that’s not Alaska.

Q: (Forgey) How do you know though? How did you know what to put into HB110?
A: I know that with HB 110 we’ve got a company saying they’ll invest $5 billion on the North Slope. SB 192 doesn’t have anyone saying things like that.

Q: (Tkacz) Why don’t you demand more information from oil companies – or even the same information they give to the SEC?

A: Why don’t we require it is the question.

A: (Butcher) There’s two issues: 1-the statutorily-required information we didn’t have but now do, and 2-the tex credit information that we won’t have for another 5-10 years to see the certain relationships between which taxes were used and what happened. We need to look at these issues over time.

Q: (Tkacz) Doogan stood up on the House floor and said you lied to him. What do you have to say to him?
A: (Butcher) I certainly haven’t. Commerce ran the 118 bill last year and we picked it up this year. We never said anything untrue to legislators.
A: (Gov) I’m supremely disappointed that he’d get up on the House floor and say something like that. Usually they’d come see me with issues like this. I think, impugning another’s character or motives, even violates their own uniform rules.

Q: (Tkacz) Is your credibility an issue in light of this and other issues?
A: Sweeping terms, from President Stevens and Rep Doogan that once you dig down you’ll see there’s nothing inherently untrue or unfaithful there. I think it’s time to stop name-calling.

Q: (Fiorucci) Will you sign HB 144 on stream access?
A: I don’t know, haven’t read it.

Q: (Bohrer) What do you mean by moving the needle? How do you define it?
A: I set a goal of 1M barrels per day through TAPS and got companies talking about major North Slope investments; that’s moving the needle.

Q: (Bohrer) But the senate says 110 is a non-starter. Are you willing to meet them halfway?
A: The bar is meaningful reform to fill TAPS and spur investment and if they show real ways to do that I’m open.

Q: (Forgey) Credits: are we over-crediting like Pedro says?
A: He’s only focused on legacy credits. My concern is rolling back investment credits and endangering those 7-10 year explorer companies.

Q: (Braun) Is it a difference of beliefs that’s keeping you from coming to an agreement with the senate?
A: I want to spark a renaissance on the North Slope. An agreement needs to lead to investments getting us more oil through TAPS. That’s my belief.

Q: (Tkacz) The senate fish and game subcommittee wants to put in Chinook project for the Yukon. Do you support that?
A: Within that spending cap, we can talk about it. There’s room for movement in terms of increments.

Q: (Bohrer) What is your take on the separate accounting bills?
A: They’re a tax increase – the definition of a tax increase and I do not support that. That says it all: we’ll take more profits away from oil companies. It sends a bad message.

Q: (Demer) Consensus with Interior legislators? What is it? How does HB9 fit?
A: I’m going to talk conceptually. We set ideas out for near and long-term options. Trucking gas is number-one and it’s the closest to helping within the next 0-3 years. Part of that is liquefaction plant construction, building up a trucking fleet and then a distribution system. HB 9 is a long-term 7-10 years down the road solution. But, look, last year I wrote a letter to the AGDC asking them to re-align their project to make it go closer to Fairbanks. It’s a part of the discussion. We’re not there yet. I want to keep the dialogue going and continue to work with them. We all DID agree that we need to continue working on the storage/trucking/liquefaction project.

Q: (Bohrer) Do you support the Thomas subsidy?
A: It’s possible but my problem with it right now is why should people who aren’t being disadvantaged by the high cost of energy like those in rural Alaska or off the SC grid get a check too? I don’t get it.

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