Sophia Linklater Flather, from left, Lorraine Netro and Dana Tizya-Tramm travelled from Old Crow to Washington D.C. in 2017 to speak out on the potential drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

U.S. senator proposes retaliation over Canada’s ANWR lobbying effort

‘It was outrageous. They were going to every office in the Senate’

Frustrations over Canada’s lobbying to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) have pushed an Alaskan senator to propose changes to the way Alberta oil sands are taxed, according to news reports.

But a councillor with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation says the threat won’t stop the push to protect the reserve which contains the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan has said he will introduce legislation to end a loophole which allows oil from Alberta’s oil sands to be exempt from paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which helps pay to cleanup spills.

Forcing Alberta oil companies to pay the nine-cent-per-barrel tax would mean an extra $47 million for the American government, according to a 2016 report quoted by Bloomberg.

According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner Sullivan said the change was under consideration before Canada opposed American efforts to open ANWR to drilling.

But, he added, “Let’s just put it — we were thinking about it. We hadn’t made a final decision. And their actions certainly helped us make the final decision.”

In the Bloomberg story Sullivan is quoted as saying of the Canadian lobbying efforts: “It was outrageous. They were going to every office in the Senate.”

A request to Sullivan’s office for comment was not returned in time for today’s deadline.

Changes to the American Tax Act in 2017 say the U.S. government must offer one oil and gas land lease sale in four years.

Officials have said the first sale could happen as early as next year.

The Canadian government, the Yukon government and the Gwich’in Nation, including the Vuntut Gwitchin, are among those who have spoken out against drilling saying it could have a dramatic affect on the herd which the First Nation considers sacred.

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation councillor Dana Tizya-Tramm said the senator’s move is “absolutely not” going to change the Gwich’in’s efforts to lobby for ANWR protection.

“For a senator to threaten us with $47 million is nothing compared to a … multi-million-year-old caribou herd,” he said.

“As well I find it disingenuous to be threatening us with such a taxation loophole when that is something that their political body would be responsible for closing regardless of any activity on behalf of Canada and the Yukon.”

Tizya-Tramm said he’s equally unconcerned that the move by the senator could influence the Canadian federal government’s position.

“Canada and the Yukon Territory have been incredible partners and it’s just too bad that Mr. Senator Sullivan does not enjoy the same kind of comprehensive consultation under negotiations and legal frameworks that ensure strong partnerships.”

In a one-line statement emailed to the News by Yukon Liberal cabinet officials, Premier Sandy Silver is quoted as saying, “We remain committed to the conservation of the Porcupine Caribou herd and we stand with its First Nation and Inuvialuit partners to call for protecting this vital resource.”

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

ANWRoil and gasU.S. politics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local company providing fresh produce, tools to grow it all year long

The Yukon isn’t the place in the world most suited to year-round… Continue reading

Council to vote on new procurement policy

Would come into effect Jan. 1, 2021

Former Liard First Nation chief goes to court over June election

George Morgan is alleging corruption and bias on the part of the chief returning officer

No new COVID-19 cases despite infection ‘wake-up call’

Testing surged this week after the government released new information about infected visitors

Apology for racist actions of Yukon Energy Dawson City employee inadequate, complainants say

Two Dawson City residents who were accosted by a Yukon Energy employee… Continue reading

Development incentives considered for three projects

Projects will add 24 rental units to the market

Delegate calls for crosswalk changes to show support for people of colour

Mayor states support for idea, but cautions it could take some time

Whitehorse advises of water system maintenance

Residents on the city’s water system are being advised they may notice… Continue reading

Walkway, signs planned for West Dawson paddlewheel graveyard

Unofficial attraction may get 135-m walkway and interpretive signs, if YESAB application approved

City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week. Tennis… Continue reading

Cancan show to return to Gerties

The Klondike Visitors Association announced in a press release on July 29… Continue reading

Air North named best airline

Tripadvisor named Air North the Travellers’ Choice Best Airline in Canada 2020… Continue reading

Community banking services to move to CIBC

A number of Yukon communities will see changes in banking this fall… Continue reading

Most Read