It takes money to make money. A few oil companies are throwing their cash around in Alaska in the hopes of swaying voters to their side in an Aug. 28 election that will decide a ballot measure that “supporters claim would restore Alaskans’ voice in federal coastal decisions,” according to the Alaska Dispatch.
Royal Dutch Shell has shelled out $150,000 against the effort, while Exxon and Conoco put in around $150,000 each and BP contributed $100,000 to “Vote No on 2.” Overall, the group has raised more than $1,450,000 and more than $690,000 of that came in the last two weeks. Two big mining companies have also contributed cash. In fact, only eight individuals have given money to “Vote No on 2,” Alaska Dispatch reports.
That is in stark contrast to the group that is pushing for Ballot Measure 2 to pass, the Alaska Sea Party. They have raised about $205,000 this year, almost all from individuals. The largest gift by far came from a guy who is against one of the mining companies developing in the area; he put in $25,000.
If the ballot measure passes, it will restart a Coastal Zone Management Program that allows local residents to be part of the process of deciding what happens on federal land or waters, the site notes, while opponents say that the whole thing adds a bit more bureaucracy which “hampers development and reinstates a framework for local groups to act independently and squash or meddle with projects already governed by existing law.” The oil companies clearly don’t want any local residents sticking their nose into potential development.
The last time Exxon, Conoco, and BP were spending so much of their cash on an Alaska election was in 2006 when they together put in $1.5 million to “defeat an initiative that would have taxed undeveloped North Slope natural gas fields.”
Meanwhile, you can score another one for the big guys. The oil companies had a minor victory Tuesday when the federal Appeal Court supported a ruling that the companies are having “a negligible effect on polar bears and walrus” in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast, according to the Associated Press.
The Center for Biological Diversity was concerned that the work of the oil companies in the area was causing stress and problems for polar bears and walruses, but the Appeals Court held up the work of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which had shown that the effect had been negligible.