Eight years ago, a company named Hilcorp moved to the Kenai Peninsula. I knew little about them, as my family had little interaction (aside from friends) with the oil patch. Graduating high school at SoHi, I received a scholarship from Hilcorp. I was not the only one to receive such a scholarship. Hilcorp branched out nationally in the early 2010s and distributed scholarships to each of the communities that they grew into — because that’s what neighbors do.
I now live in Anchorage. I see ConocoPhillips’ name on parks and buildings at UAA and their tower downtown. CP invested in the North Slope and continues to, but they also invested in their communities. Because these places of higher education allow Alaskans to learn trades and skills to deliver energy with more efficiency and to higher standards. And because this is where ConocoPhillips’ employees live. And because that’s what neighbors do.
In 2018, I returned to Anchorage and served on the Anchorage Pride committee. Upon reaching out to BP they said, “We have people power — tell us where you need them.” And proceeded to be a major sponsor of the event. I know that Pride was one of the many events that BP sponsored that year. Because that’s what neighbors do.
I am not saying that any organization is flawless. Certainly, there are ways that each and every one of us can improve. I am a young person with a vested interest in the improvement of our state and the environment too. But now I’m watching as the people of Alaska scream and mock and foam at the mouth and write vile Facebook comments over an industry that doesn’t “pay its fair share.” And I’m sad. Because that’s not what neighbors do.
Perhaps it’s naivety to think that an industry that props up about 90% of state government might be “paying its fair share.” Perhaps it’s just feelings to think about the hundreds to thousands of our neighbors who will lose their jobs if oil companies are hit with increased taxes. Maybe I’m “radical” for believing that a decision about what’s “fair” should not take place at the ballot box. But I, for one, will be voting “No” in November. Because that’s what neighbors do.
Owen Phillips, class of 2012, Soldotna High School
• By Owen Phillips