Politics & Government

Oil industry pushes Alaska for tax overhaul

JUNEAU — The oil industry has launched a $100,000 ad campaign aimed at convincing the Legislature that Alaska needs to roll back its oil taxes.

The advertising offensive by the Alliance, a trade group for Alaska oil and mining contractors, comes with the Legislature divided over oil taxes in the second week of its 90-day session.

House Republicans have introduced a bill that could lower oil taxes by a billion dollars, and Gov. Sean Parnell wants tax rebates for companies that drill in Alaska. There's much less interest in the Senate in tax changes, though, and the result could be a stalemate. Alliance general manager Paul Laird said it's too soon to say.

"At the very least we'll raise the consciousness that a change needs be made and if doesn't get done this year we won't be back at ground zero next year," said Laird, a former official with BP Alaska.

The TV ads are running on commercial stations and public television's Gavel to Gavel, which broadcasts the legislative session and is constantly playing in Capitol offices. The ad has a foreboding sound of tolling bells and the words "Real Alaskans, Real Casualties of Alaska's Oil Tax Policies," followed by a series of black and white portraits. It ends with the statement that Alaska's oil tax is costing jobs and must be fixed.

Some legislators said it reminds them of the 2007 debate over raising oil taxes when the industry ran advertisements showing a shark taking a bite out of the pipeline in an unsuccessful effort to stop the push led by Sarah Palin to raise state taxes on company profits.

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