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A SETBACK FOR OIL

The big Prince William Sound oil spill and Exxon's bumbling effort to clean it up are producing financial repercussions against petroleum companies in Alaska.

The Alaska Legislature, which used to be in Big Oil's pocket, has just eliminated some tax breaks that could cost companies producing oil in the state about $2 billion over the next 20 years. The lawmakers also are considering imposing a 5-cents-a-barrel tax on crude to finance an oil-spill cleanup fund.After Gov. Steve Cowper signed the tax bill, an aide declared: "Big Oil no longer runs the state of Alaska."

It remains to be seen whether that continues to be the case after outrage over the spill dies out. Revenues from the oil and gas industry finance 85 percent of the state's budget.