ANCHORAGE, Alaska, July 13 Critics of an
oil-industry tax cut handed a petition with 50,000 signatures to
Alaska state officials on Saturday, more than enough to force a
referendum that would overturn a new oil tax law.
The bill, approved by the legislature three months ago,
replaces taxes tracking oil prices with a cap on tax at 35
percent of net profits. Expectations for the new system were for
a likely tax range from about 14 percent to about 20 percent.
"This bill that they passed is against the interests of
Alaska," Vic Fischer, a former state senator and one of two
surviving authors of the Alaska constitution, told a group of
about 50 banner-waving tax-cut opponents gathered outside
government offices in Anchorage.
Referendum supporters, organized in a group called "Vote Yes
- Repeal the Giveaway", needed 30,169 signatures of registered
voters - 10 percent of the total turnout in the last statewide
election - to qualify their measure for the 2014 ballot.
Leading oil producers in Alaska include BP Plc,
ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp.
Governor Sean Parnell, sponsor of the new tax, argued that
steep cuts in oil taxes were needed to lure industry investment
away from North Dakota and other booming oil-producing areas. He
dubbed the bill the "More Alaska Production Act".
Opponents say the tax cuts are too steep, will cost the
state $4.5 billion in lost revenues over five years, and do
nothing to reverse North Slope production declines that they say
are inevitable as the area's main oil fields age.