This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo | Al Grillo, File)

This undated file photo shows the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska. (AP Photo | Al Grillo, File)

Opinion: Ballot Measure 1 adds to challenges of operating the trans-Alaska pipeline

Ballot Measure 1 will make it harder to operate TAPS.

  • Sunday, September 27, 2020 1:30am
  • Opinion

The Alaskans who work at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company focus on one core mission: safely and reliably moving Alaska’s oil from the North Slope to our terminal in Valdez. It is the single reason the company exists, and a stewardship our workforce has diligently and proudly undertaken for more than 43 years.

At Alyeska, we tend to keep our heads down and generally stay out of political issues. Why? Because we’re busy working 24/7 to safely operate the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, that 800-mile long marvel that is Alaska’s economic lifeline. We’re constantly finding new and innovative ways to operate and revitalize the pipeline, committed to seeing TAPS live well into the future. But when a public policy issue comes up that impacts our pipeline, we sit up and pay attention. This is why we are speaking up in opposition to Ballot Measure 1.

Ballot Measure 1 will make it harder to operate TAPS. That’s a bold statement, but a true one: a punitive new tax that impacts 84% of the state’s oil production is certain to slow development, resulting in less oil flowing through the line. That makes our jobs harder, because the pipeline operates better when it handles more oil. Public policy issues that threaten to decrease oil production alarm us, because we go to work every day with the simple goal of making sure Alaskans benefit from our stewardship of safely operating the line.

Alyeska employees are 94.7% Alaskan, and more than 21% proudly claim Alaska Native heritage. We care about our state, we are committed to our work, and we all try to demonstrate compassion and leadership in our communities. Alyeska employees from Fairbanks, Valdez, Anchorage and in all sorts of places in between care about our neighbors. We are 100% invested in the success of this state, and by working together we can figure out pretty much anything. If Ballot Measure 1 were to pass, we rightly fear what will happen to the pipeline, and by extension, all Alaskans.

The oil industry remains Alaska’s most important economic driver, and the pipeline is what makes it go. It is incredible to consider our ongoing potential to make a positive impact on Alaska. If we gamble on a risky new tax scheme, we risk losing critical oil production and the state revenue it provides. It should come as no surprise to any Alaskan that now is the worst time to roll the dice on an untested new policy that jeopardizes jobs and investment in our state. By the same token, we also expect our elected leaders will work together to ensure fiscal stability; after all, that’s why we elected them.

As Alaskans, the proud employees of Alyeska Pipeline will roll up our sleeves and work to make sure our state remains a great place to live. It’s what we do, and it is what we will continue to do, which is why we have to speak up when bad public policy threatens our future. So please, vote NO on Ballot Measure 1, for Alaska’s sake.

Brigham McCown is the president of Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

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