Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers’ funded political group, pulled a $100,000 ad buy against U.S. Sen. Mark Begich after it was announced that Koch Industries was closing the Flint Hills Refinery in North Pole Alaska earlier this month. Perhaps attacking Begich for hurting the economy after it announced it was shuttering a mainstay of Alaska’s Interior economy didn’t make for good optics.
The refinery has left about 300 households and businesses with tainted water, and a sulfolane plume that’s 3 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. About 80 people who worked at the refinery are losing their jobs, and other entities, including the Alaska Railroad, also relied heavily on the refinery and are now considering layoffs.
Apparently, AFP is counting on the short memory of Alaskans, because the ads are back. This one, like a prior ad, first goes after Begich on healthcare and then jumps into the meat: his alleged support of a carbon tax. According to AFP, such a tax would cost the average family $2,000 a year and cost thousands of Alaskans their jobs.
Let’s get this straight: Begich has said publicly that he opposes a carbon tax. He did, however, vote on a non-binding amendment that said if such a tax were passed, revenue from it would be “returned to the American people in the form of federal deficit reduction, reduced federal tax rates, cost savings or other direct benefits.” The vote would not have created or defeated a carbon tax. Begich also voted against an amendment that would have required a vote of three fifths of the Senate to approve a carbon tax. That, vote, however, was intended to send a message to Republicans about procedure. It was not about the carbon tax.
The one thing that appears to be true in this whole situation is that Flint Hills was repeatedly warned about the sulfolane plume throughout the years. It failed to do anything about it. Now, hundreds of North Pole residents can’t drink from their faucets and at least 80 people are out of a job. And it’s unclear if Flint Hills or the state will shoulder the costs of the cleanup.
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