Saturday, January 12, 2013

Alaska is destined for greatness

Deborah Brollini
Alaska Energy Dudes and Divas

It has been years since I’ve been excited for a legislative session. In the past I’ve been cautionary and reluctant to be optimistic because of dysfunctional past legislatures. However, today I have a skip in my step and I’m ready for the future. It was a painful journey, and it took a lot of hard work, and biting my tongue to get here. Alaskans have so much to look forward to and I cannot wait until the legislature gavels in.

Alaska has been stagnant long enough, and it looks promising that both legislative bodies are ready to get to work. I’m excited that the Senate has organized with an “Alaska first” agenda that has a long-term focus, and focused on oil tax reform, monetizing our natural gas, and a sustainable budget. All three Senate priorities are key to moving Alaska forward, and all three will receive the attention they deserve with a whole new set of eyes, with a long-term perspective in mind. But, as Alaskans we need to understand that legislation is a process.

Alaskans, there is no such thing as a perfect bill. The Governor will be delivering his oil tax reform bill next week to the legislature. I know I’m going to love parts of the bill, and I’m going to hate parts of it. My concern will continue to be whether the tax cuts go far enough to entice oil company investment in Alaska in the short-term, as well as to firm up what the long-term plan is in regards to extracting unconventional oil (viscous, heavy) from existing fields. It will be a 90-day juggling act as to how do we prioritize our hits today for a promising tomorrow. I encourage all to watch and participate in the dialogue, because the decisions regarding oil taxes today will impact you, and your family, and future generations of Alaskans.

One of the big questions this legislative session will be whether or not it is feasible and economical to monetize our natural gas. I personally have not been engaged in the issue. I come from the premise that if the state gets involved it is probably not economical. The oil producers were clear in their October letter to the Governor that our oil tax structure must be addressed first prior to looking into any pipeline project moving forward. I am personally not married to any pipeline project. The only thing I care about, and the majority of Alaskans care about is keeping the heat and lights on in our homes TODAY. High energy costs have hit my bottom line, and all Alaskans are hurting.

The elephant in the room will be our state operating and capital budgets, and as stakeholders we need to be engaged in the debate. We as citizens need to decide what our priorities are, and what Alaska we plan on leaving our children and grandchildren. Some would like to make it about a number, and that number is the end all, be all. I do believe that to be a consideration but not an answer. Relying on a number does not address the systemic problem we created, oversimplifies the issue, and is misleading to the public. I personally do not have the answers. I want all decisions to be balanced, and well thought out as to not harm our citizens or communities. All of our state's stakeholders need to be at the decision table, and not just a select few who seem to believe they have all the answers. Alaska has never had a strategic plan and presently there is no roadmap to the future. Alaska is destined for greatness with the right vision, leadership, and a strategic plan for the future. Our state legislature is committed to our state's future regardless of party, and we are on the road to greatness this legislative session.

My friends in the legislature are ready to jump in and roll up their sleeves and make hard decisions today, and we should all be excited about that. I’m not interested in losing the legislative game and uprooting my family, and moving outside of Alaska. Alaska has been my home of 36 years, and my children deserve the same opportunities my friends and I rolled around in growing up, and we all need to be good stewards of our natural resources, and our dollars to insure that my children's future is bright

Please join me in my enthusiasm for this upcoming legislative session, and supporting our Governor and legislators for the next 90 days.

Let’s bring on Alaska’s future.