The following editorial first appeared in the Alaska Journal of Commerce:
The news from the North Slope continues to trend in a positive direction with the latest announcement that production is 13,600 barrels per day better than the Revenue Department forecast in December, and that the annual production decline for the current fiscal year is projected to be just 1.8 percent.
In a sane political world (we could imagine one, right? OK, never mind), that news would be greeted with cheer. But we live in a state where the Democrat party never lets good news go to waste and they held true to form April 7 by continuing to poo-poo the positives because real events don’t fit into their preferred political narrative.
“I don’t know how you read these (numbers) and take anything good away from this,” said Sen. Bill Wielechowski, who never misses a chance to miss the mark when it comes to math.
Democrats, you see, have every reason to be frustrated after spending years attacking Gov. Sean Parnell, legislators and oil companies and shrieking about an oil tax “giveaway” that they claimed offered no assurances of increased production or investment.
Well too bad for them, because BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil are currently spending billions of new dollars on the Slope, and Democrats can’t deny that.
They also can’t deny metered production from the Slope, which is better than expected just four months into the new tax regime and amounts to nearly $400 million in additional funds to the state treasury.
They can’t deny the dollars are being spent. They can’t deny metered production from the Slope fields. So they keep screaming giveaway and pointing to the out years of the forecast as proof that a tax policy in place for exactly four months isn’t working.
Some day they may realize how ridiculous they sound but I’m not buying any squares in that pool.
The Revenue Department is, as it should be, conservative in the out years. After 2017, the forecast reverts to the long-term historical average decline beginning at 4.8 percent in 2018 and steepening to 8 percent by 2023 with a projection of just 315,000 barrels per day.
“See! See!” the Democrats say, “that’s proof the policy isn’t working.”
One can only imagine if the Revenue Department released a rosier forecast.
The time would be measured in milliseconds between such an announcement and the Democrat press release accusing Parnell’s administration of cooking the books to make his tax policy look better.
That’s the box the Democrats have put themselves in.
After years of touting the supposed benefits of ACES despite no increase in production, they now find themselves in the odd position of greeting a measurable gain in production with scorn because acknowledging it doesn’t help them politically.
Yet they still have the gall to claim they are fighting for Alaska’s “fair share” when all they are really doing is playing games with the state’s future.