by Robert Beans
I have lived and worked in southwest Alaska my whole life. I am proud to say that in times of trouble, we Alaskans come together to do what is best for our people, especially our Elders and Youth.
Now is one of those times. We are faced with challenging decisions that will impact our region for years to come. One of the most pressing issues to come before us is Ballot Measure 1, which will rewrite the state’s oil tax laws. After much discussion and consideration, the Calista Public Advocacy and Engagement Committee voted to oppose the ballot measure. As with everything we do, the decision was based on what was best for our Shareholders and their families.
Some may ask, how does oil tax policy impact us here in Southwest Alaska? In reality, the oil and gas industry reaches into every corner of our state. The industry is responsible for a full 25% of all the jobs in Alaska, and remains the state’s largest taxpayer, by far. Calista is also invested in several oil and gas support businesses that are all but certain to experience a downturn if Ballot Measure 1 passes. This would have a negative impact on Calista’s bottom line, and ultimately, our Shareholders.
Perhaps more importantly to our region, oil and gas provides vital tax dollars to the State of Alaska, far more than any other industry. When oil companies are busy and drilling for oil, more oil flows through the Trans Alaska Pipeline. When more Alaska oil is sold on the world market, the producing companies pay more in taxes, which our State uses to fund essential services for our communities, like public safety, education, and health care.
On the opposite side of things, when oil companies pull back and don’t drill, we see less oil and less revenue. This creates challenges for every community in the state, all the way from the Panhandle in Southeast to the Arctic Coast. Without question, Ballot Measure 1 would negatively impact every community in our region.
Ballot Measure 1 is certain to cause oil companies to slow down their activity in Alaska. The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown have battered every industry in our state, especially oil. Oil prices hit once-in-a-lifetime lows in 2020, and have not recovered. If we vote to impose a large new tax on them during this time of unprecedented struggle, these companies will have no choice but to pull back on their spending here. Alaska needs those dollars flowing through our statewide economy more than ever, and Ballot Measure 1 would jeopardize that possibility. This means fewer jobs, less tax revenues to the state, and reduced deposits into the Permanent Fund.
Just like we depend on strong fish runs to sustain our traditional and indigenous ways of life, we must treat the oil and gas industry as a resource to be protected. We have enough oil and gas remaining in Alaska to sustain us for many more decades, but it will be developed only under the right conditions. Until Alaska’s economy is truly diversified, we must keep oil flowing through the pipeline to fuel our economy and fund state government for current and future generations. Unfortunately, Ballot Measure 1 creates an anti-business environment that chases dollars out of the state. We simply cannot afford to take that risk. Not now.
For the good of our region and all Alaska, we must unite to defeat Ballot Measure 1. Quyana for voting, and please vote NO on Ballot Measure 1 on November 3rd.
Chair Robert Beans is a Shareholder of Calista Corporation. He has served on the Calista Board since 2012 and is currently serving in his third term as Chair.