The Senate leadership Monday hardened its opposition to Governor Sean Parnell’s tax reduction for the oil industry. In a speech from the floor of the Senate, President Gary Stevens called for caution in moving the bill along – warning his fellow-members to be suspicious of those who promote fear that the trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline will be closed if the legislature doesn’t pass the tax break.
Stevens said the legislature needs information, data and cooperation from the administration and industry before deciding whether to cut taxes. He reminded supporters of the tax bill that rushing to a conclusion will not work.
Stevens also pointed out production estimates — in legal proceedings last year – show the pipeline to be still operational until 2047,and will be viable with only a third of the production it how carries. Stevens said the TAPS line will not close – in fact, if it were not there, it would be built now.
The governor’s response came in an e-mail from Press Secretary Sharon Leighow who pointed to statements made by Conoco-Phillips CEO Jim Mulva last week that the company has $5-billion in projects ready to go if the tax regime were changed. Stevens asked in his speech why Mulva through his employees and lobbyists had not made the same commitment before the legislature during House hearings.
Leighow said the Senate cannot dispute that oil production is down – and that affects Alaska’s economy.