Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Alaska Lawmaker Tells Exxon Valdez Spill Not Its Fault As State Considers Giving Oil Industry Huge Tax Cut

Alaska is set to give oil companies, including ExxonMobil, a massive tax cut. The bill, which passed the Senate 11-9 and is endorsed by Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, is being debated by the House of Representatives.

The plan raises the base tax rate that companies pay no matter the price of oil, and also gives them a $5 credit for every barrel they produce. The plan would cost the state anywhere from $3 billion to $9.5 billion over the next six years.

As if that weren’t enough, Republicans in the state House want to make the tax cut even larger. And as they debated doing so, Rep. Kurt Olson (R) told a company representative that Exxon shouldn’t be blamed for the second-worst oil spill in U.S. history, the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989:

“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 you may have been directly responsible for,” Olson said, who went on to praise the company for its reliability.

To that, the Exxon representative responded, “Wow,” and proceeded to apologize for the spill, which dumped more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the Alaska Prince William Sound, contaminating 1,300 miles of shoreline. More than 20 years later, there is still evidence of the damage as Exxon draws out litigation.

Alaska currently taxes oil under a progressive system that increases taxes when oil prices are high. That system, a 350 percent tax increase that helped the state rack up an extra $17 billion, was signed into law by former Republican Gov. Sarah Palin.

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