(Adds details on results)
By Steve Quinn
JUNEAU, Alaska Aug 20 Alaskan voters appear to
have narrowly upheld a new law that cut taxes on oil production
and is worth up to $1 billion a year for companies such as
ConocoPhillips, BP Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp
, according to results available on Wednesday.
With 98 percent of voting precincts reporting from Tuesday's
primary, those favoring the lower taxes held a four-point lead,
according to unofficial returns posted by the Alaska Division of
Upholding the eight-month-old tax cut ushered in by Governor
Sean Parnell means the state would not revert back to the system
implemented by his old boss, Sarah Palin, who raised taxes in
Results will not be certified until Sept. 2, said state
elections director Gail Fenumiai, who added that nearly 14,600
absentee and early voting ballots needed to be counted over the
next 10 days to see whether the repeal effort failed.
BP's Alaska Regional President, Janet Weiss, said in a
prepared statement: "Alaskans have made clear they are
interested in moving forward and improving Alaska's long-term
economic future. We agree with the voters that oil tax reform is
working, and BP is committed to doing its part to make sure that
Parnell, who claimed his own victory in the state's
Republican primary election on Tuesday night, has said his tax
rollback will make Alaska more competitive for investment and
North Slope oil producers. He called the More Alaska Production
Act crucial to the state's long-term future because it would
reverse declining output.
Repeal backers got on the ballot last year with a petition
featuring 50,000 signatures shortly after Parnell signed Senate
Bill 21. They have faced opposition that has raised close to $15
million compared with their several hundred thousand dollars.
Those pushing for the repeal said Parnell's system only put
more money in the oil companies' pockets for investment
elsewhere, while depleting the state's fiscal war chest.
(Reporting by Steve Quinn in Juneau, Alaska; Writing by Eric M.
Johnson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Terry Wade and Andre Grenon)