Friday, November 30, 2012

Oil tax reform requires all stakeholder support

Deborah Brollini
Alaska Energy Dudes and Divas

The Anchorage Press recently referred to my energy blog Alaska Energy Dudes and Divas and I as the “face of big oil.” I know some share that sentiment. Would it surprise you that for a decade that I’ve collected a paycheck from the healthcare industry? For eight years I managed the finances for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium’s research and HIV/STD prevention programs, and for the past 15 months have been managing the traveling nurses for Providence Hospital statewide. I report to a board of two whom are my children, and their futures are on the line, and that is why I am in the trenches for oil tax reform. Thus, my educational outreach efforts to engage all Alaskans.

I was excited to be invited to present to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) board by ANTHC board President Andy Teuber at the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) convention in October. The presentation was to discuss energy issues, and my outreach efforts. I invited Senator Lesil McGuire to attend and present to the ANTHC board because she could speak to legislation passed to deal with the energy issues impacting rural Alaska. However, since the election the concern became about the organization of the Senate. Therefore, the conversation needed to address the boards' concerns, and Senator McGuire spoke to the ANTHC board on November 28, 2012.

I learned on November 28th that it was the first time a sitting state legislator presented to the ANTHC board. Senator McGuire set worries to rest about Senate organization, and looked these Alaskans in the eye and committed as Senate Rules Chair that nothing will get on the Senate floor that will harm Alaska Native people or rural Alaska. Ultimately, taking responsibility for the next four legislative sessions concerning issues impacting my people.

The majority of the exchange with the ANTHC board was about oil tax reform, energy, and the state budget. I was personally surprised at how informed this board was about oil tax reform, and the state budget. One board member went so far as to ask why does it take eight to 10 years to get a project permitted on the North Slope? I found that an interesting question coming from a board member whom I thought was an oil novice. I later learned that this board member's region is impacted by North Slope oil production, and she has a full grasp of the rub between industry and communities.

Alaska’s first people need to be at the oil tax solution table, and I would argue have never been invited. Senator McGuire pulled out the chair and offered everyone in the room a seat at the policy table. For those who do not know the ANTHC board is a powerful bunch. The members of the ANTHC board sit on multiple boards around the state and collectively with their tribal powers can help move Alaska forward. What most people do not know is that Alaska Native leaders advocate for all Alaskans, because when Alaska Native people win... all Alaskans benefit.

For the record, I am not the face of “big oil.” I am advocating for the future of my children, your children, your grandchildren, and your businesses. I’m advocating for all Alaskans and always have.