House Finance will take public testimony on oil

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline comes out of the ground near Fox, at milepost 8 of the Steese Highway. Photo by Rosemarie Alexander / KTOO.

The public gets a chance to testify Tuesday on the latest oil tax reduction proposal before the Alaska Legislature.

Senate Bill 21 is in the House Finance Committee – the last stop before a  House floor vote.

Oil industry officials on Monday touted the bill as a possible game changer that could lead to increased investment on the North Slope, though none would commit to any.  That’s no different than their testimony over the three years  the legislature has been considering industry tax breaks.

Damian Bilbao, Head of Finance for BP Alaska, said the latest version of SB 21 is a signal Alaska is “ready to compete for investment.”  Conoco Phillips’ External Affairs Vice President Scott Jepsen said the bill addresses many of the issues his company has with current tax law.

“But until we see a final bill,  until we go back and look a lot harder at all of our projects, progress it up our chain of command to our executive management in Houston and in some instances to our board of directors, I’m not going to be a position to tell you that we’re committing to individual projects,” Jepsen said.

While most Republican legislators push the bill as a way to increase investment, Democrats call a giveaway.  As SB 21 is written, it could cost the state up to $6-billion through 2019.

Tuesday evening’s public testimony is probably the last to be taken before the bill is moved from committee.

The House Finance Committee will begin to take comments at 5 p.m. in Juneau and by teleconference from Legislative Information Offices throughout the state.   Public testimony will be limited to 2 minutes per person.

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