Shannyn Moore for the Anchorage Daily News
April 6th, 2013
Last week Exxon went to Juneau. Not just to lobby, but to appear for questioning at a hearing. The company has long kept a low profile in Alaska. Why? Maybe because its front men would rather not run into any of those Alaskans who waited 20 years for their 10 cents on the dollar.
And what would legislators want to ask the company that sat on its Point Thompson leases for three decades — until the state finally tried to take them back? Maybe some tough questions about how to incentivize oil production, and what specific projects would come on line if oil taxes are cut?
Soldotna, here’s your Republican Rep. Kurt Olson, standing up for Alaska:
“Your company has been tied to the history of Alaska probably for an event that had more to do with the name of a vessel than something that you may have been directly responsible for.”
Read that again. This is probably the first time you’ve heard someone suggest Exxon got a bad rap for spilling millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Spill. (The closest may have been John Shively, of Pebble mine, who expressed his gratitude to tipsy Capt. Joe Hazelwood for saving the Alaska economy.)
Does Rep. Olson have any idea how many victims of the Exxon Valdez disaster committed suicide? They were left with nothing but wait and frustration. It was too much for some, and way too much for others.
Olson’s backside smooching seemed to take Exxon’s man, Dan Seckers, off guard.
“Wow,” he said. There was some laughter.
The exchange reminded me of what then-Exxon man Don Cornett told the folks at Cordova High School after the spill, “You won’t have a problem. I don’t care if you believe that, that’s the truth. You have had some good luck and you don’t realize it. You have Exxon and we do business straight. We will consider whatever it takes to keep you whole. Now, that’s — you have my word on that. Don Cornett. I told you that.”
Rep. Olson, could you please, please save the pathetic pandering for your next fund-raiser, preferably in some very private place — like a suite at the Baranof? (Tell the desk clerk you want the FBI special.)
Late Night Gavel to Gavel was keeping me up. I watched SB21, the governor’s terrible oil tax giveaway bill, made even worse. Then a turn for the better: Homer Rep. Paul Seaton introduced an amendment to reclaim the lost billions in revenue if, in five years, the oil companies haven’t come through with more than a wink and a nod for Alaskans.
Reps. Mike Hawker and Eric Feige, both married to women who work for oil companies (ConocoPhillips and Linc Energy), argued against the amendment. Why? Are they not confident the governor’s bill will put more oil in the pipeline? I thought that was the whole point of this exercise. The governor and majorities in both houses have been relentlessly touting more oil – so will there be more oil or not?
Despite Sen. Kevin Meyer’s assertion that “we’re honest, honorable people,” and he sleeps “pretty well at night,” this giveaway couldn’t happen without the legislators who regularly cash oil company checks. Too bad we don’t have a nice steep tax on legislative conflicts of interests. We sure wouldn’t have a revenue problem.
Bills to enrich oil and mining interests at the expense of educating Alaskans are being shoved through right and left. The Republican majorities and governor are determined to limit voting rights, get between women and their doctors, turn some public schools into madrassas and starve the rest, and fund big-ticket boondoggles that just happen to enrich their contributors. They’ve already taken away the right of Alaskans to have a say when industrial development threatens their homes and ways of life.
They have the gall to say anyone who opposes them must be an “Outsider.” You know who is from Outside? Pebble, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and BP. Two of those are from well outside America.
When they aren’t selling the cow for a handful of magic beans, they’re fighting.
House Speaker Mike Chenault had a press conference because, after listening to too many “pass the gas” jokes on the House floor, Rep. Scott Kawasaki stuck out his tongue at a TV camera.
The “Honor of the Floor” was defiled by face-making? Oh, it’s defiled all right. Defiled by legislation selling us out.
There’s a week left in the session. There are more lobbyists in Juneau than mosquitoes at Wonder Lake in late July — and they’re just as certain to suck the blood out of Alaskans.
This week, a group of Alaskans rallied against abortion in Juneau. Some anti-choice folks rolled out huge billboard signs of chopped up babies — gruesome images intended to disturb those coming in and out of the Capitol. The signs could be seen from some legislative offices and the Governor’s Office.
At some point, several large State of Alaska vehicles drove up and parked in front of the signs – blocking them from the view of legislators and Capitol visitors.
One driver was asked what he was doing. Following orders, he said. Whose orders?
Gov. Sean Parnell issued a statement saying they were Department of Administration vehicles, but he didn’t know who ordered them to block the protest.
Well, I want to know who did. We’re talking about government interference with the First Amendment rights of Alaskans.
You can’t be more pro-choice than I am. I’m outraged by the photos, but I’m much more outraged by the attempt to thwart the protest — especially with state resources. It’s un-American and un-Alaskan.
This should be investigated and the results made public. The bedrock right to protest must be protected, for everyone.