Dan Fauske has resigned as president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation (AGDC), which represents the state in the proposed $45 to $65 billion project to bring natural gas from the North Slope to Cook Inlet for export.
The resignation was announced at an early morning meeting of the AGDC board on Saturday, and accepted in a unanimous vote.
The board had gathered for a final vote to authorize the buyout of TransCanada from the Alaska LNG project. That buyout passed 6-0, with no discussion.
Fauske gave no reason for his departure in his resignation letter, dated Friday. But in a press conference Saturday afternoon, Gov. Bill Walker said he had made it clear he wanted new leadership at the corporation — someone with more natural gas experience.
“I let them know that I think we need to have a person there with different qualifications. There’s no question about that,” Walker said. “Did I give a directive that they must do that? No, I don’t give directives. But they certainly knew my belief.”
Fauske’s resignation came a day after the governor removed the board’s chairman and replaced another member. On Friday, Walker named former Fairbanks North Star Borough mayor Luke Hopkins to replace chairman John Burns, who served as attorney general under former governor Sean Parnell.
Walker also appointed Transportation Commissioner Marc Luiken to replace Commerce Commissioner Chris Hladick. The board has seven seats, two of which are reserved for state commissioners.
Fauske had led the gas line development corporation since its founding in 2010. He was previously head of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.
“Mr. Fauske has done a very good job of getting us to where we are, and I appreciate that profoundly,” Walker said. “But now we move into another stage.”
Fauske’s resignation is effective Jan. 1, but he will take personal leave until that date. Board vice chairman Dave Cruz said he will serve as acting president of the corporation until an interim replacement can be named.
Cruz is now the only remaining board member originally appointed by Parnell. He was reappointed by Walker in September.
The board postponed a second vote scheduled for Saturday, on whether to continue the Alaska LNG project for another year. The state and its three partners, Exxon Mobil, BP and ConocoPhillips, all must vote by Dec. 4 on whether to commit to another year of work.
Walker said the state should not formally approve more work until it has reached a “withdrawal agreement” with its partners. The governor wants assurances that should any of the three major producers pull out of the project, they will not withhold gas they control from a pipeline, if one is built.
“By approving the work plan and budget today, there’s no incentive for us to receive those assurances,” Walker said.
Board members will take up that issue on Dec. 3.
Republican legislators expressed unease about the changes, and the delay.
“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,” said House Speaker Mike Chenault, in a statement released Saturday. “We’re watching, Governor, and we don’t like what we’re seeing.”