Senate “Decouples” Oil and Gas Taxes

By Dave Donaldson

The Senate today approved a bill separating gas taxes from oil taxes.  

The issue arose when lawmakers discovered that under the current, unified tax structure,  the state risked actually losing as much as two Billion dollars a year when oil prices are high – as they are now – and gas prices are low – as they also are now.   Petroleum economists predict that those conditions are likely to continue for as long as twenty years.

Opponents to the measure,  including the Parnell administration, say that if those market prices reverse,  the state would take in much more revenue if the tax is not changed.

Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman says the risk is too great – and he describes the current tax as a “shell game.”

I’m very concerned when we export our gas to Alberta or if we ship it to Valdez and we ship it to China or wherever,  that the state isn’t giving away this revenue stream on gas – that value.  When there’s no other … as far as I know we’ve looked at other basins around the world there’s no other hydrocarbon basin of the magnitude of Prudhoe and Kaparuk and what we have in the Arctic that gives away its hydrocarbon.  It doesn’t exist. And when it does, there’s social upheaval and there’s changes in the government. And things change.  I want to get ahead of the curve.

Three members of the Senate voted against it,  but did not address their own opposition to the bill.  It next goes to the House where it is scheduled to be heard in the Resources Committee on Wednesday.


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