Anchorage Rep. Croft files new gas tax initiative

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rep. Eric Croft, D-Anchorage, has resubmitted an initiative application to tax leaseholders who don't develop their gas reserves.

The initiative's goal is to force the North Slope producers to build a gas pipeline to bring trillions of cubic feet of Alaska gas to market. Sponsors, including former Gov. Jay Hammond, suspect the oil and gas producers are biding their time, waiting to tap into Alaska gas when it's most advantageous to them.

The proposal now calls for a tax of 3 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas under lease that is not being shipped to market. Before, it was a 2-cent tax. Another change would allow the state to use the money collected by the tax to build its own natural gas pipeline.

If Lt. Gov. Loren Leman certifies the application, sponsors must collect signatures from 10 percent of those who voted in the previous election from three-fourths of the state's House districts. If successful, the initiative would go on the ballot in the 2006 general election.

Ken Freeman of ExxonMobil declined to comment. Officials with BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. did not return a call.

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