Pivotal Alaskan economist Arlon Tussing dies at 82

An economist who played an important role in the shaping of modern Alaska has passed away. Dr. Arlon Tussing began his work in Alaska at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Department of Economics in 1965. He was later affiliated with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, and advised the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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Arlon Tussing. Photo: Facebook.
Arlon Tussing. Photo: Facebook.

Economist John Tachotsky says Tussing was an economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in the early 1970s, when it was chaired by Sen. Scoop Jackson of Washington. There, Tachotsky says Tussing had a hand in major legislation affecting Alaska’s vast land base – including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, or ANILCA:

“He was part of a group known in Alaska as Scoop’s troops and they were involved in ANCSA legislation, and ANILCA, the original precursors to ANILCA legislation.”

Tussing also worked on legislation authorizing the creation of the TransAlaska Pipeline, and helped evaluate damages after the Exxon-Valdez oil spill in 1989. He later became a consultant to the energy industry, where Tachotsky says, Tussing played an influential role in the restructuring of U.S. natural gas development and marketing.

“Mid-’70s, people thought there was no gas, the world was running out of natural gas. And he, basically through the process of deregulation, and by removing price controls, industry had the incentive to look for gas, and, of course, there was plenty of as to find.”

Tussing was author, co-author, or editor of more than 300 books and publications.

Arlon Tussing died Friday night at the age of 82.

Joaqlin Estus is a reporter at KNBA in Anchorage.

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