FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2016
Juneau – Today, Representative Les Gara (D-Anchorage) is calling on the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT) to help end millions in state subsidies for the oil and gas companies that are the primary users of Alaska’s North Slope Haul Road, which is also referred to as the Dalton Highway. The state spends roughly $25 million per year to maintain and operate the road, which was built solely for, and is still primarily used by oil and gas producers and explorers. DOT estimates that 70% of the use on the road is commercial.
“Asking Alaskans to pay over $15 million a year to cover oil company-generated costs is unreasonable when the state is facing a major deficit and cuts to core services,” said Rep. Gara. “Every budget deficit cutting proposal should be on the table for discussion. A fair contribution from the state’s oil and gas companies should be part of that discussion.”
On Monday, Rep. Gara asked DOT Commissioner Marc Luiken during a House Finance Committee hearing, and again in an e-mail to recoup costs the state pays for oil company use of the Haul Road.
“We have to get our priorities straight,” said Rep. Gara. “Cutting $2.5 million in Pre-K education funding while paying out over $15 million in oil company Haul Road subsidies is backward budgeting.”
DOT reports that in recent years the state spent roughly $25 million annually on maintaining and operating the Haul Road. The Department estimates that 70% of the use of this road is commercial. The heavy commercial trucks and trailers used by oil companies cause the most damage to the road. Rep. Gara is the sponsor of HB 144, which seeks to apportion oil and gas company-generated costs for maintaining the road among the oil and gas company users.
“It’s wrong to ask private citizens and small businesses to pay to use the road,” said Rep. Gara. “The costs of maintaining a road built for oil and gas companies and primarily used by oil and gas companies should be paid by those companies and not by Alaskans through taxes or cuts to basic services.”
Rep. Gara’s request is that the DOT Commissioner, as Rep. Gara has proposed in HB 144, use a conservative estimate and charge oil and gas company users 60% of the annual cost of maintaining and operating the Haul Road. Rep. Gara has noted he is open to modifications to the proposal as long as Alaskans are treated fairly.
A copy of Rep. Gara’s email to the Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is available upon request.
For more information contact Rep. Gara at (907) 250-0106.