• The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline: What's It All About?

      Gorsuch, Lee; Tussing, Arlon R.; Persily, Larry; Larsen, Peter; Goldsmith, Scott; Foster, Mark; Fischer, Victor; Colt, Steve; Bradner, Tim; Berman, Matthew (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2005)
      Alaska has collected nearly $100 billion in oil revenues (adjusted to today’s dollars) since it became a state. Almost all those revenues have been from oil produced on the North Slope, where the largest known oil field in the U.S. was discovered in 1968. Construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline in the 1970s made development of that oil possible. The North Slope also has one of the largest accumulations of natural gas in the country—and for 30 years Alaskans have been hoping for construction of a second pipeline, to carry that gas to market. Gas pipelines have been proposed at times over the years. But none has been built, because investors did not think it was economic. Now, with higher natural gas prices and changes in the North American market, many people think a gas project may be possible. Alaska stands to gain a ot if a gas pipeline is built—a new long-term source of state revenues; more jobs and increased business activity; an increased local property tax base; and a potential new in-state source of natural gas for home heating, electricity, and industrial uses. With future supplies of natural gas from Cook Inlet uncertain, many Alaskans want one or more “spur” pipelines to be built from the main pipeline, to make natural gas available to Alaska communities. But access to the gas will come at a price, and not all Alaskans will benefit equally.
    • Understanding Alaska State Finances: What Citizens Want to Know and How to Convey that Information Effectively

      Haley, Sharman (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2003)
      Fiscal policy is a major dilemma for this state. State oil revenues have been declining since 1982. Despite cuts in the state’s general fund spending--down from a high of $2.9 billion in FY1982 to $2.5 billion in FY2002--the state budget has been in deficit eight of the last ten years. The FY 2002 deficit constituted nearly one third of the state general fund budget. At the current rate, the Constitutional Budget Reserve—the savings account which is being drawn down to cover the deficit—will be exhausted in about two years. Political opinion is so fragmented on the question of what to do that the legislature has been unable to forge a fiscal plan to address the issue. Indeed, the very nature of the problem is contested. Results from a state wide fiscal opinion survey last year (Moore, 2001) suggest that voter attitudes are a major factor in the current policy impasse. While 80 percent feel that some kind of fiscal plan is needed, only one third are very likely to support some kind of plan involving taxes and permanent fund earnings, another one third somewhat likely to support such a plan, and one third not very or not at all likely. Analysis of the data shows that more informed voters, with a more accurate understanding of some basic facts about Alaska’s fiscal structure, are more likely to support a plan involving taxes and permanent fund earnings.