Opponents of citizens initiative to boost oil taxes have formed a bipartisan coalition

An above-ground section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System near the Toolik Lake Research Station in the North Slope Borough. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska's Energy Desk)

An above-ground section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System near the Toolik Field Station in the North Slope Borough. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

bipartisan group has formed to fight a citizens initiative that, if passed, would boost taxes on some of Alaska’s North Slope oil fields.

The group, OneAlaska, does not appear to include any oil industry leaders, though several of its members work for companies or organizations with ties to the industry. It’s chaired by Chantal Walsh, a Democrat who’s a former director of the state’s Division of Oil and Gas.

Its co-chairs include former state Rep. Jason Grenn, an independent, and Republican Nicholas Begich III, a nephew of Democratic former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich.

“The ballot measure is a mistake and should be rejected by voters,” Grenn said in a prepared statement announcing the group’s formation. “It contains provisions that would jeopardize new development and make it harder for companies to invest here.”

Other co-chairs include Crawford Patkotak, the chair of the Alaska Native corporation Arctic Slope Regional Corp., former state forester John Sturgeon and Bill Popp, head of the Anchorage Economic Development Corp.

Popp, in a phone interview Thursday, said both he and his organization believe that the oil tax initiative is “complex legislation that should not be done at the ballot box.”

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