Nation & World

Alaska Gov. Parnell rekindles push to ease oil taxes

Gov. Sean Parnell is getting ready to renew his push to roll back Alaska's oil tax while supporters of the tax are pointing to news of increased exploration and jobs on the North Slope. The latest report getting attention from lawmakers came from Petroleum News. It reported in an Aug. 14 article that "operators on the North Slope and nearshore Beaufort Sea are preparing for what promises to be one of the busiest exploration seasons since 1969, when 33 exploration wells were drilled following the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field."

Legislators opposed to Parnell's attempt to lower oil taxes forwarded the article by email with comments like "amazing news" and "great article." But advocates of lowering the tax say exploration does not necessarily mean production, and that the tax dissuades companies from investing in the development of Alaska fields instead of elsewhere in the world.

Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said Monday the governor will continue to push for lower oil taxes when the next session of the Alaska Legislature begins in Juneau in January.

Fairbanks Democratic Sen. Joe Paskvan sent a statement to the press soon after the Petroleum News article first appeared. Paskvan is among the skeptics in the state Senate who blocked Parnell's tax cut.

"It appears that Alaska's tax credits under its production tax system are working to promote capital expenditures, including new exploration wells. Good news for the industry and the state, which relies upon the industry for revenues to its treasury. Exploration should mean increased oil production and increased throughput down the pipeline," he said.

Paskvan went on to say he didn't want to be overly optimistic and wanted to learn more from the companies, but that "this is strong evidence that the independents in the oil industry are both looking at Alaska as a place to do business and that they are actually coming to Alaska to develop our abundant oil resources."

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