AJOC EDITORIAL: What has Walker been waiting for?

As this column goes to press, it has been 129 days since Gov. Bill Walker was sworn in to office.

It has been 92 days since Walker fired three members of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. board of directors and ordered two newly-appointed state commissioners not to sign confidentiality agreements related to the Alaska LNG Project.

It has been 49 days since Walker announced in a newspaper column that he intended to explore an upsized Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline capable of moving as much as 2.6 billion cubic feet per day as a backup plan to AK LNG.

Unable or unwilling to explain exactly what he was doing to the Legislature’s leadership, it has been 37 days since Walker flipped his lid at a press conference vowing to veto legislation intended to keep AK LNG on track as the state’s top priority.

Now, with the Legislature having passed that bill and very near to holding the votes to override Walker’s veto, the governor announced he’s forming a team to review the AK LNG Project for 45 days starting whenever he gets around to naming them.

When Walker fired the three AGDC board members, he dismissed the need for confidentiality and for industry expertise yet the team he’s assembling to n review the AK LNG Project will have to sign confidentiality agreements and according to Walker’s spokesperson will be selected based on experience with large projects.

The governor has every right to shape the AGDC board as he sees fit — within the confines of the legal qualifications for his nominees — and he absolutely must be in the loop on the status of negotiations, project details and fiscal terms.

For someone who’s made a natural gas pipeline his life’s work, it is puzzling that he didn’t start getting up to speed on AK LNG on his first day in office. Instead, he’s spent more than four months dithering, sowing confusion and in general mucking up the process.

All this as the clock ticks away and the schedule tightens for finalizing terms that must be ratified by the Legislature and moves toward a 2016 decision for the partners on whether to make a $2-billion call to proceed to full front-end engineering and design.

A few rookie missteps are understandable for a new governor, but wasting precious time is not.

04/08/2015 - 12:32pm