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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 28, 2015 at 5:23 PM

Arctic National Wildlife Reserve: Alaskans are addicted to oil

Listening to the outrage of Alaskans over interference with what they think are their resources and protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve reminds me of people so hooked on cigarettes that they smoke through the hole in their throats after their cancerous larynx has been removed. They just can’t get enough of that gas and oil, even when it comes from land that belongs to all of us.

These so-called rugged individualists all receive an annual dividend from the Alaska Permanent Fund — with a principle of $42 billion as of 2012 — which is funded mostly from gas and oil revenues. Every citizen who has lived at least a year in the state gets a dividend from that fund, which last year paid each Alaskan $1,884.

Much of the income for the fund comes from a state windfall-profits tax on oil companies that, combined with other taxes, can take up to 75 percent of the value of a barrel of oil. The oil companies can then deduct those state taxes from their federal taxes, essentially taking money that would go to the U.S. Treasury, and giving it to Alaskans who then write checks to themselves.

These are the same Alaskans lighting their hair on fire at the proposal that some federal land — land owned by all of us — be protected from exploitation and degradation.

John Ariel Murphy, Seattle

Comments | More in Oil | Topics: Alaska, Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, John Ariel Murphy

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