Legislators’ Norway Trip Focusing on Economic, Natural Resource Issues

A dozen Alaska state legislators are heading to Norway. The senators and representatives are part of a trip organized by the Institute of the North, a nonprofit group founded by former Governor Wally Hickel to improve understanding of northern issues. Fairbanks Senator Joe Thomas is going on the Norway trip, which is focused on economic and natural resource issues, including hydro power and oil.  Thomas says Alaska has a lot in common with Norway on the oil front.

The trip to Norway is costing the state more than $4,000 per legislator. Thomas says it’s a worthwhile investment for the perspective. The past legislative session was dominated by debate over whether or not changes are needed to Alaska’s oil tax system to spur development, and the issue promises to come up again next year.  Thomas says the Norway trip should provide some new insight on Alaska’s taxes.

Thomas says Norway is better for Alaska to compare itself to because both areas oil resources are on public property, as opposed to a place like North Dakota, where development happens on private land.  Norway is different from Alaska in that its oil development is off shore in the North Sea, and it has a state owned oil company that works alongside independent producers.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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