Thursday, August 10, 2006

Prudhoe Bay

CNN reports:
Gov. Frank Murkowski imposed a state hiring freeze Wednesday because of the millions of dollars in revenue Alaska is losing as a result of the Prudhoe Bay oil field shutdown...The expected loss of 400,000 barrels per day at today's oil prices means the state is losing about $6.4 million a day in royalties and taxes...The state receives 89 percent of its income from oil revenue; Alaska has no state sales tax and no personal income tax.

This is an interesting way to have people, not just across the country, but around the world fund Alaska's infrastructure and services. Oil companies are paying $2.8 billion in royalties and taxes to Alaska which, of course, is passed on to consumers. (Incidentally, the next largest portion of Alaska's revenue is the tax on alcohol and cigarettes, followed by the tax on salmon and seafood.)

"Murkowski questioned why BP abruptly shut down the entire Prudhoe Bay field after finding a leak of only four to five barrels." The better question is why it wasn't shut down in March following a spill of 6,400 barrels (more than 200,000 gallons). Anchorage News. Quatar

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Protection (there's an agency with a tough job) there were an average of 409 spills per year in Prudhoe Bay between 1996 and 1999. Trustees for Alaska reports that nitrogen oxide emissions from Prudhoe Bay oilfields were more than 70,000 tons in one year (June 1994 to June 1995), twice the total emitted in Washington D.C and exceeding all other Alaska sources combined by more than 20,000 tons.

I'd like to think that this evidence of destruction in Prudhoe Bay will strengthen our resolve to preserve ANWR. But I fear the shutdown in Prudhoe Bay will increase calls to open ANWR, although exploration in ANWR will do nothing to ease the crisis caused by the shutdown of Prudhoe Bay.

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