On ‘giveaway,’ clean water

Last Friday our legislative delegation held a town hall meeting at Homer council chambers. This was a well attended event, and Rep. Paul Seaton and Sen. Peter Micciche fielded many questions from constituents.

One of the issues on the table was Senate Bill 21, the “Oil Tax Giveaway.” SB 21, recently enacted, gives a billion dollars a year away to oil companies in Alaska. The hope of those that support this is that the machinery will be fired up and that the pipeline will fill. There is no language in the legislation that ties the tax break to new production, which is why many call it a “giveaway.”  

This is a bad business deal for Alaskans who will be faced with unnecessary austerity in future budgets. A billion dollars a year is a lot of money that should be used for roads, education and programs benefitting Alaskans. Instead, we will be tightening our belts unnecessarily. 

The families and former staffers of Gov. Wally Hickel and Gov. Jay Hammond believe that this giveaway is contrary to the “owner state” concept and adamantly oppose it because there is no linkage to guaranteed production. A petition is circulating that would push the concept to the ballot for public review.

Rep. Seaton and Sen. Micciche both voted in favor of this unnecessary austerity.

At the town hall meeting, I admonished Sen. Micciche for his vote to relax wastewater standards for the cruise ship industry. He argued with me, saying that he had not voted to do this. Here are the facts: On Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, Sen. Micciche joined with the majority to enact HB 80. The headline in the Anchorage Daily News following the vote reads “Rollback of Cruiseship Wastewater Rules Approved by Alaska Senate.” The article states that “The Alaska Senate on Tuesday approved a Parnell administration measure to roll back cruise ship wastewater standards that were approved by voters in 2006.” Sen. Micciche may have misremembered his position on this, because he denied voting for dirty water in public last Friday.

My personal opinion is that relaxing wastewater standards in any Alaska waterway is contrary to the pride that Alaskans have in healthy, wild fisheries; contrary to the scientific concept that clean water is necessary for fish survival and regeneration, and contrary to good economics with regard to tourism and commercial fisheries. I do appreciate that Rep. Seaton voted against HB 80 and in favor of clean water.