Senate Majority Anticipates 'Yes' Vote Natural Gas Pipeline's Future
Some Lawmakers Critical of Governor's AGDC Moves Two Weeks From Crucial Vote
November 24, 2015
(SitNews) Anchorage, Alaska - Alaska State Senators remain optimistic but vigilant following the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation's (AGDC) vote Saturday to approve the payment of funds to TransCanada.
"The Alaska Legislature overwhelmingly voted to make Alaska an equity partner in The Alaska LNG Project – the largest infrastructure project in North America," said Sen. Cathy Giessel (R-Anchorage), chair of the Senate Resources Committee. "The will of Alaska's Board of Directors is clear: they want a yes vote to approve the project's program and funding for next year. We trust the corporation will act in the best interest of our state on this project."
The AGDC board delayed action on directing staff to vote in the affirmative for the the 2016 work plan and budget.
"After speaking with the Governor [Friday] and seeing the actions of the AGDC board [Saturday] morning, I continue to have great concern with the leadership of the state's ownership of the AKLNG project," said Sen. Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River), co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "The legislature was very clear with our intent and expectations of the Governor and the managers of this project. We asked them to continue on the project timeline in an efficient and expedited manner. Delaying the work program and budget vote twice certainly raises red flags for me. Alaskans want this project and have wanted it for years. No one wants this project delayed even further."
Saturday's board meeting followed Friday's resignation of AGDC president Dan Fauske, as well as Gov. Bill Walker's announcement that he will be replacing AGDC chairman, John Burns.
"Of course, it is the Governor's prerogative to appoint new board members as he sees fit," said Senate President Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage). "That said, six of seven board members have been replaced just this year, and the turnover rate is somewhat disconcerting. During this critical stage of transition, as AGDC assumes a greater stake in a $55 billion project, we want to make sure our partners are confident in the continuity, stability and accountability of the state's gas team."
"The Senate Majority is grateful for the work of John Burns and Dan Fauske in advancing the gasline thus far, and we look forward to maintaining the positive momentum on AKLNG by voting 'yes' on Dec. 3," Meyer added.
Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) was dismayed to learn of Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) President Dan Fauske’s resignation Friday.
“When we wanted results, we turned to Dan Fauske. Thank you to Dan for his years of exemplary service to the State of Alaska, and working to help Alaskans in various capacities. Dan was a hard-charging, goal-oriented, inspiring public servant. We are grateful for his time and wish him well in his future endeavors.
“Dan was tasked with leading the State’s independent pipeline company, AGDC, and working on a parallel track to get us a gasline, the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline. He and his team did amazing work and have led us farther, toward an actual project – environmental, permitting and more – than we’ve ever been. We in the Legislature turned to his leadership five years ago and we’ve never been let down for making that decision. He and the team he put together should be proud of the work they have done; let’s hope it’s not wasted. It’s a shame he won’t be there to hopefully see his hard work pay off. We are a better state because of Dan Fauske, from his work at the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to AGDC. Thank you, Dan.”
Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault (R-Nikiski) is worried about the future of the state’s long-anticipated natural gas pipeline following Governor Bill Walker’s recent decisions to gut the board of the State’s independent pipeline corporation, the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, including replacing six of its seven-member Board and its President.
Chenault said, “It’s a dark day in Alaska history when we replace the president of a corporation and two more board members who were doing critical work to ensure we make the best decisions on a huge cash call, when we are getting closer to a FEED decision. What in the world is going on here? What kind of message does that send to Alaskans, industry and our project partners? The clock is ticking and now we have to bring two more members up to speed without a proven leader. This is a troubling move"
“[Friday's] resignation on the heels of two more board members with no pipeline experience whatsoever should give us all pause. The Governor replaced more than 60 years of gasline experience on the AGDC Board earlier; people who knew what they were doing and had extensive national and worldwide experience and expertise." Chenault said, "The main reason they were replaced was because they were nonresidents. Now? The Governor is going on a national search to replace a tried-and-true Alaskan with an exemplary track record of delivering for Alaskans? That makes no sense to me at all. It’s hypocritical for the Governor to speak on the one-hand about putting Alaska first, when he’s spending large amounts of money on outside consultants and forcing out long-serving Alaskans."
“We all should be really concerned with who is staying and who is coming on now with AGDC. More attention needs to be paid and the moves and motives heavily scrutinized," said Chenault.
Chenault said, “We, the Legislature, created AGDC as an independent agency of the State of Alaska. One free of political strife and the usual intrigue. It was well-understood that when AGDC was tasked with the duty to perform as our intermediary, they’d do it with the best experts, tools and funds to do so, free of the whims of politicians. Now look: nothing could be further from the case at the moment. They’ve pushed the Board approval for the next step in the pipeline to the day before all parties must approve the work plan and budget. I’m worried the Governor’s recent moves and indecisiveness has jeopardized our relationships with our partners and is bringing a real cloudy outlook as to whether the project will continue after Dec. 4."
Chenault said, “We’ll be looking for concrete answers and communication with the Legislature on his intentions and reasons. He’s certainly entitled to his own philosophy on delivering a gasline to us; we’re not looking to micromanage – we are looking for results and for him to follow the law, in SB138 and HB 4."
“We’re watching, Governor, and we don’t like what we’re seeing," said Chenault.
Alaska House Majority Leader Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) also expressed concerns. “After listening to Governor Walker’s statements during his news conference, it is clear that Governor Walker asked President Dan Fauske to leave AGDC. It’s a shame that this talented expert on Alaskan megaprojects was fired."
Millett said, “I want to call attention to Alaskans that the shake-up at the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC) is significant.
“This project is dangerously veering from the successful path that was born by the legislature in HB 369, HB 4 and SB 138. With AGDC President Dan Fauske and the confidence of the legislature, we had brought this megaproject further than ever before. Now, under Walker's leadership, with the newly untested appointed board of directors all hand-picked from his failed AGPA associates the Governor and the recent shake-up between the president, skilled experts, negotiators and consultants, I and all Alaskans should be gravely concerned," said Millett.
“I'm concerned about the success of this project. Goal posts continue to change, and there is a revolving door of staff and board members," Millett said
She added, “With the hard work by the Alaska Legislature, SB 138 furthered AGDC’s mission and duties, and its Board was designed not to be political pawns for the Governor but effective."
Millett said, “Most recently, during the special session on the buyout of TransCanada, we were diligently working toward moving the project forward to benefit all Alaskans with a stronger economy but not without serious concerns of leadership and organization."
“What message do these recent wholesale changes send to our partners and the hundreds of people who have committed their time to bringing the project to the Pre-FEED stage as it sits at this current time?" Millett asked.
Millett said, “Firing everyone isn't a good business strategy for such a complex project. Hiring longtime friends and political advocates who've worked unsuccessfully with Walker on other gasline attempts such as his Alaska Gasline Port Authority mission has now caused great affliction and anguish to many of my colleagues and me."
Millett said she is very upset and quite frankly, nervous about the Governor's next move. "Unfortunately, many more questions remain, for starters I'd like to ask Governor Walker, who is in charge? What is going on? Alaskans deserve answers and to have faith that our wishes are being carried out,” said Millett.
The Alaska State Legislature appropriated $68.5 million to acquire TransCanada's share in AKLNG and $75.6 million for the 2016 work plan and budget during a special session that concluded earlier this month.
Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
Source of News:
Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC)
Alaska Speaker of the House Mike Chenault
Alaska House Majority Leader Charisse Millett
Sen. Cathy Giessel - chair of the Alaska Senate Resources Committee
Alaksa Senate President Kevin Meyer
Sen. Anna MacKinnon, co-chair of the Alaska Senate Finance Committee
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