The fund and the fish ballot measure
By Sen. Natasha von Imhof
On Oct. 4, every eligible Alaskan whose application was approved for a 2018 Permanent Fund dividend will be sent $1,600. We pay a lot of attention this time of year to the dividends we receive from the Permanent Fund's earnings. But do we pay much attention to how the money gets into the Permanent Fund to begin with?
When you vote this November, you'll be asked to vote on Ballot Measure 1, "Stand for Salmon." If you're unsure how to vote on this one, ask yourself whether you like your annual PFD check, because there's a direct link between the proposed regulations in the Stand for Salmon initiative and restricting our ability to grow the Permanent Fund and sustain a dividend for future Alaskans.
That's because revenue from Alaska resources including oil, gas, and mining pay more than 75 percent of the state's bills, and 25 cents of every royalty dollar the state receives from these industries goes right into the Permanent Fund, which helps create the earnings to pay our annual dividend checks.
The Stand for Salmon measure threatens to slow or stop completely countless current and future projects across our state and impact the revenue stream our state depends on, as well as the accompanying royalty deposits that support growing the Permanent Fund.
Alaska has a long, proud history of responsible resource development, and royalty deposits help keep the Permanent Fund permanent. Our royalties come from oil and gas development and mines on state land, and new projects will keep royalty payments coming to the state for generations to come.
Ballot Measure 1 puts at serious risk many development projects, in direct contradiction to the Alaska Constitution, which requires that we develop our resources for the maximum benefit of our people.
The measure's misguided new regulations represent a radical overhaul of our existing state project permitting system and creates multiple new opportunities for environmental groups to sue to keep projects from happening. Lawsuits produce no royalties.
New projects could die a costly, slow death in the face of a relentless, expensive and grinding review process. This measure was designed in private to stop or slow new development from ever occurring. Thousands of Alaskan jobs will be jeopardized, along with the developments we depend on for our economic security.
Big projects today need literally dozens of permits from different state, local, and federal government regulatory agencies to move forward in Alaska. That process includes frequent opportunities for the public to comment and have their voices heard. Alaska's permitting system is not broken and does not require the radical overhaul that Ballot Measure 1 imposes.
So why are Alaskans trying to kill future projects? We aren't. Stand for Salmon is supported and funded by Outside anti-resource environmentalists. People who don't live here want to decide what Alaskans can and can't do with our resources. On Nov. 6, you can vote to stop them.
We pay no income tax, no sales tax and the state pays us a dividend. No other state offers its residents the same level of economic freedom that Alaska does. Ballot Measure 1 threatens to change that.
My grandfather, Elmer Rasmuson, and other founding trustees looked to the future decades ago and helped create the Permanent Fund to turn non-renewable resources (oil, gas and mineral royalties) into a renewable financial resource. In 1980, Permanent Fund dividend legislation was enacted that paid out the first annual dividend to connect us to our fund. Dividends have helped pull people out of poverty, paid for medical care, heat, and other essentials.
We have a unique opportunity to keep transforming our non-renewable resources into renewable financial resources. Royalties from oil, gas and mining help fund our Alaskan savings account.
Alaskans this November should stand for our Permanent Fund and vote no on Ballot Measure 1.
Natasha von Imhof is a fourth generation Alaskan. She serves as a state senator for South Anchorage.