A dispute between Alaska Native companies over carbon credit revenues is currently in court.
Three native companies are suing three others making at least $100 million and possibly more selling carbon credits. The companies suing say they want a distribution under a 40-year-old revenue-sharing agreement. Companies selling carbon credits say income should be treated differently and is not subject to the agreement.
This is all reported by Nat Herz at northernjournal.substack.com.
According to Hertz, the dispute stems from the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971 and the fact that companies that develop valuable natural resources on that land cannot own land without such valuable natural resources under ANCSA. They say it dates back to a 1982 legal settlement that said it had to share revenue with other companies. means.
As Herz says, the lawsuit over carbon credits marks a new era of corporate disputes.
[Sign up for Alaska Public Media’s daily newsletter to get our top stories delivered to your inbox.]
The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
nat hertz: I think everyone thought this was going to be wood, metal and oil when the law was approved and signed into law. But after all, in the beginning there was so much controversy about how these earnings were calculated and so on. Can you deduct the cost? What expenses can be deducted?Basically, in the ten years since this law of his 1971 was passed, lawsuits and lawsuits between Aboriginal companies have continued. In 1982, they signed his 120-page contract. It basically explained in more detail how the revenue sharing would be applied. The agreement effectively stayed all litigation for about 40 years. Some of these indigenous companies have started to get into the business of so-called carbon credits.
Casey Grove: Yeah, so how are carbon credits considered here?
NH: Yeah, so carbon credits are essentially a market that was developed as part of the system adopted in this case in California to tax carbon emissions. and promise not to cut trees for 100 years. These lands are then issued credits that can be traded to polluters as part of these carbon markets. He had three large regional Alaska Native companies that entered these markets. Sealaska based in Juneau, Prince William Sound and Chugach along the Kenai Peninsula, inland he Ahtna. Copper River Valley. Also, some small village companies have entered the business. We don’t know the exact amount and revenue at stake, but Cilaska officials say more than $100 million was paid for carbon credits. I know it’s two or three other companies that do business in kind of territory and are probably around the same size. And what those native companies decided was, “Look, we’re not cutting down trees or selling trees. So these are not incomes from the disposal of natural resources. And these is not revenue that we have to share 70% with other local businesses.”
CG: Wait, let me guess what other local businesses have to say about it. They think it should be shared.
NH:Yeah, you are right. So this is where this kind of legal battle begins. So, in 2018, Native Enterprises initially initiated what they called an arbitration process. I can agree. There is also a private arbitration panel of lawyers that basically functions as a court, with litigation by both sides. Therefore, in 2018, all large regional native companies other than Sealaska, Chugach, Ahtna, and others with whom these transactions took place requested arbitration, stating, I am.” During the ensuing three years of delays due to COVID, they were subjected to verbal discussions and briefings of legal questions. Over the summer, the Arbitration Board made a unanimous decision stating: shared. And the essential legal conclusion was that this was because Sealaska, Ahtna, and Chugach had not actually sold or disposed of the actual timber resources on their land. They had agreed to pay in exchange for not cutting down the trees.
CG: So I guess we’re getting to the point where we’re talking about this as a lawsuit, right?
NH: Yeah, so the arbitration dispute, I’ve been doing some reports on Sealaska for the past year and heard about the arbitration dispute. However, because the arbitration is private, there were no official documents to say what the nature of the dispute was or what was at stake. All of this must ultimately be made public as documents that have been filed and that reporters can go to court to see and use. inform the audience.