“It is time to pull our heads out of Big Oil’s assets.” said former governor Sarah Palin recently. She went on, “Vote YES on Prop 1 for Alaskan Jobs and Independence… Because Sourdoughs Know Big Oil’s M.O.ugust 19, Alaskans vote on a critical ballot measure that cuts right to the heart of our development opportunities, Alaskan jobs, our resource ownership, and promises of a prosperous and sovereign future.
Alaskans know we own our resources that fuel our economy. Alaskan oil belongs to us as residents of this great state, a fact which is purposefully and clearly spelled out in our state’s Constitution so we’d never make the mistake of allowing others to try to lay claim to it. So, we have every right and responsibility to share, clearly and equitably, an appropriate value that we place on our energy reserves.
When I was elected governor, it was clear that for too long our leaders refused to exert constitutional muscle on behalf of Alaskans. For years, we were taken for a ride by crony capitalists with the complicity of corrupt politicians, coupled with industry-fueled fears we’d never make it on our own as Alaskans if Big Oil’s unethical Outside influence was challenged.
Remember though, the FBI busted much of the corruption and some of the oil industry players went to prison. We, the people, rose up and made sure unethical influencers would no longer control our state capital. We regained control of the governor’s office, and Big Oil lost both houses of the legislature for the first time since the early ‘80s. Alaskans could finally secure a fair share of our own resources to ensure more aggressive and responsible development; Alaskans were in the driver’s seat.
After two years of arduous, prudent, open, and honest work with the world’s top energy consultants helping us reclaim our right to value our oil appropriately, I presented legislation called Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES), which passed by a huge bi-partisan majority in a “cleaned up” legislature that could no longer trade votes for selfish industry favors.
In creating ACES, my team – the wisest and most experienced energy-focused team in the nation – knew Big Oil would have their top lawyers, lobbyists and PR firms on their side of the negotiating table – as is their right and duty to their shareholders. So, I made sure Alaskans had the world’s best experts on our side facing off against these enormously funded multinational corporations.
All consultants had a similar message: Alaska had for decades been essentially giving our resources away while providing Big Oil huge financial benefits which they took advantage of by sitting on unused leases that previous governors declined to demand they uphold obligations to develop. The result was a few companies obviously monopolized the North Slope oil reserves, and the new, independent players wanting to compete for the right to partner with us in developments were shut out, all to Alaska’s detriment. We determined to change that through new legislation passed by the people’s representatives and by legal action if necessary.
So, we secured sound formulas for our oil extraction’s fair market value in order to partner fairly and ethically with oil companies for everyone’s mutual benefit. ACES protected Alaskans and incentivized new exploration and new production, which are key to new jobs and state progress towards a prosperous, self-determined future.
While the expected cries of poverty came from the oil industry, Alaskans knew that under ACES oil companies would realize an extraordinarily high rate of return of 123% at a conservatively averaged $80 per barrel from new investments in Prudhoe Bay – that’s a rate of return oil companies don’t expect nor ever receive in other parts of the world!
In no time at all, it was clear ACES worked. Unemployment was low, energy exploration increased, oil companies recorded their customary huge profits, and the state’s treasury was replenished and actually flowed over. We were able to save for the future, forward-fund education, reform state pensions, and return more of the people’s money back to the people as their share in the development of their oil.
Unfortunately, it only took six years for Big Oil to regain control of the narrative and their influence in the governor’s office and the legislature. Legislators, including oil company employees who are lawmakers, exchanged ACES for Senate Bill 21 (SB21) and it barely squeaked by. Just one vote changed everything, which tells you the public’s will wasn’t for lawmakers to “cave.”
ACES had passed with overwhelming public support because it protected the interests of Alaskan resource owners as equal partners with oil companies. But then, Juneau and statewide airwaves seemed to melt new leaders’ resolve and common sense, as Outside influence cozied up to the administration and legislative branch, and control of our energy resources slid back out of Alaskans’ hard working hands.
But it’s not too late to get back in the driver’s seat! SB21 is a one-way give-away to the oil industry without any guarantees to develop or concessions to protect the people’s long-term interests. We’ve been down this road before, and it didn’t work. Before, for years Outside Big Oil tried to tell us, “Hush now, little Alaskans, just trust us to do right by you.” Hmm, that didn’t work, as evidenced by shelved projects like Pt. Thompson that sat idle for decades until my administration put our foot down and demanded Exxon fulfill its obligations in their lease agreements or we’d go out competitively to rebid the leases. THAT worked, and that’s why you see Pt. Thompson finally moving forward. So it’s time to exert the Last Frontier’s independent spirit and Constitutional rights again.
We learned our lesson. We won’t be suckered again by multi-million dollar PR campaigns and crony capitalists wanting us to fall for scaremongering that the biggest industry players will just pack their bags and abandon our giant oil fields if they don’t get absolutely everything they demand from Alaskans. As any Alaskan sourdough knows, this is Big Oil’s M.O. It’s to be expected they’d try to scare us into thinking all our jobs are at risk if they don’t get every advantage they demand, instead of partnering with us as the owners of these very valuable non-renewable resources.
As my team and I always assured the public, if ACES ever needed a tune-up to keep up with the world’s changing economic conditions and increased energy demands, we should view it as an opportunity to explore thoughtful adjustments that stay true to time-tested truths that are ACES foundation. If part of an ACES valuation formula needs a tune up, that’s fine and completely expected. But SB21 isn’t a tune-up; it’s a demolition!
Thankfully, we can reverse SB21 at the ballot box on August 19 and reclaim Alaska’s prosperous future that includes great jobs for hard workers!
Alaska is providentially positioned to help secure our nation. We do that by taking responsibility for the resources we own, which we and all the rest of America are dependent upon.
When we became a state, we promised to be as self-sufficient as possible by developing our God-given natural resources. Three things are required for us to live up to that promise: the state protecting responsible development opportunities, the federal government allowing us to develop our resources ethically and safely, and multinational oil companies respecting Alaskan resource owners enough to share openly and honestly the value of our oil and gas.
Those three components are the hat trick to Alaska’s prosperous future. ACES is the center point for a mutually beneficial deal that brings jobs, competitive developments, and huge benefits for both Alaskans and the oil industry.
Reversing ACES is a devastating step backwards on the road to building our young state. That’s why I’m voting “Yes” on Proposition 1 and urge all Alaskans to join me.
Vote “yes” and say “yes” to Alaska’s future. Say “yes” to Alaskan jobs and the Last Frontier’s independent spirit.”
– Sarah Palin