Courtesy Reuters

Arctic Bungle

By Mike Wenstrup

Scott Borgerson (“The Coming Arctic Boom,” July/August 2013) is right to argue that “Alaska should invest its considerable wealth in its underdeveloped university system, finance ambitious infrastructure projects, and create policies that attract talented immigrants and encourage them to start new businesses, such as renewable energy ventures.”

Unfortunately, the recently passed Alaskan Senate Bill 21 reduces the income Alaskans receive from oil produced on public lands. Alaska has already begun to run deficits, is unable to finance university investments, and, for the fourth straight year, has frozen funding for basic classroom instruction.

Oil companies have high profit margins yet pay less for extracting oil in Alaska than in Norway or countless other countries. Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell is squandering an opportunity to convert oil wealth into human and physical capital. Alaska’s oil resources are finite, and the state should invest the profits now in capital development and economic diversification.

MIKE WENSTRUP is Chair, Alaska Democratic Party