Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2006

APOC delays hearing on Alaska's Future

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JUNEAU - The Alaska Public Offices Commission has rescheduled a hearing on the group Alaska's Future for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Commission staff said the hearing, which had been scheduled for this week, was delayed after a commission member was called up for National Guard duty.

In response to a complaint brought by state Reps. Harry Crawford and Eric Croft, the hearing will consider whether Alaska's Future falls under commission regulation and must reveal who financially backs it.

Crawford and Croft have argued that Alaska's Future is a front group for oil companies that are opposing Ballot Measure 2, a gas reserves tax measure on the Nov. 7 ballot. The two legislators, both Anchorage Democrats, sponsored the initiative.

APOC staff made a preliminary recommendation to the commission that the disclosure rules didn't apply to Alaska's Future, because it was not organized originally to fight the ballot measure, but later took on that roll as a small part of its activities.

Lease lawsuit seeks $40 million in rent

FAIRBANKS - A lawsuit filed by an Anchorage man and his family claims they're owed $40 million in back rent for property they own in a North Slope oil field.

Joseph Inuquruq Delia claims his grandfather did not understand terms of the lease he signed with the federal government and that the current tenant, oil giant BP, should pony up $40 million in back rent.

The U.S. Department of Justice in a recent response to the lawsuit said the lease was made properly and the family has been paid what it is owed - about $670,000 from 1994 to 2001.

A BP spokesman said Tuesday that the family's dispute is with the federal government, not the company.

Delia grew up in Fairbanks. He said the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to negotiate a fair lease on behalf of his grandfather, Andrew Oenga, an Inupiat who did not read or speak English. Oenga died in 1990.

The lawsuit targets the government for the money but also points to BP.

"BP is an intervener in this lawsuit and will probably be responsible for all monetary damages awarded by the court," according to a summary distributed by Levick. The company took advantage of BIA errors, it said

Daren Beaudo, BP spokesman in Alaska, said the company paid all the money it owed under the government's appraisal of the Oenga property. Appraisals must be updated every four or five years. The Oenga heirs have no rights to the oil under the land, he said.

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