Exxon, Chevron Spend Big Against Oil Tax Referendum

Photo courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Natural Resources.

Exxon and Chevron have made major contributions to a campaign that wants to preserve a controversial oil tax law that passed this year, according to recent filings with the Alaska Public Offices Commission.

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Exxon gave $350,000 to the group “Vote No On One” in December, matching contributions previously made by fellow North Slope producers BP and ConocoPhillips. Chevron, which has a smaller footprint in Alaska, gave $150,000.

“Vote No On One” was created in October. Their goal is to defeat a referendum that would repeal Gov. Sean Parnell’s signature oil tax system, which caps the rate at 35 percent per barrel and amounts to a tax cut when oil prices are high. The law’s supporters argue it will spur production on the North Slope, while critics have characterized it as a “giveaway” to industry.

So far, the oil industry has put $1.6 million toward fighting the tax referendum, and most of that money has been spent on advertising. Only one group from outside the oil industry has contributed to “Vote No on One” — the Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce gave $10,000 to their campaign on December 20.

Referendum sponsors have not had the same financial success. “Vote Yes! Repeal the Giveaway” has taken $90,000 from small donors, and they spent most of their funds on their signature-gathering campaign.

The referendum is scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot.

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