Calls on State to Buy Back Coal Bed Methane Leases; Tells Washington to fix Energy Bill to Protect Property Owners
April 6, 2004
Knowles pointed to a provision in the bill, currently awaiting Senate approval, which would give $2 billion in subsidies for the development of coal-including coalbed methane. The Section 29 tax credit would give a $3 per 1,000 cubic feet tax credit to stimulate supply of selected unconventional fuels such as coalbed methane.
"We shouldn't be giving away one nickel in tax credits to drill for coalbed methane if that money is being used to trample on Alaskan's private property," Knowles said. "I don't think any company ought to see any of that money without a willing seller agreement to the surface rights and demonstrating that they're respecting local zoning laws."
Knowles also called on the State of Alaska to buy back subsurface leases in the Mat-Su Valley. The state sold the leases for approximately $30,000 despite the assessed surface value of the land being $235 million. It is estimated that all of the leases could be bought back for $2 million to $4 million. Buyback is nothing new in Alaska. It was done for oil leases in Kachemak Bay and the Knowles administration convinced the federal government to do the same in Bristol Bay.
"Private property rights of Alaskans are under siege because the law is being misused," Knowles said. "There's precedent for the state buy these leases back and resolve this problem before it's too late."
Knowles also announced his support of the Alaska Property Owners Bill of Rights.
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