• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 12s

Legislature confirms Rabinow to gasline corporation board

By Rhonda McBride 10:11 AM April 18, 2014
JUNEAU –

Confirmation hearings for the governor’s appointments to state boards and commissions, as well as to the executive branch, are an annual rite of passage at the state Capitol in Juneau.

The governor appoints and the Legislature confirms; an important check and balance in state government.

The Legislature occasionally rejects an appointment, as it did with Wayne Anthony Ross, who was tapped as attorney general by Gov. Sarah Palin in 2009.

But on Thursday, a joint session of the Legislature approved all of Gov. Sean Parnell’s appointments, including one of the most controversial — that of Richard Rabinow, the Texan the governor named to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board.

Earlier this week, lawmakers passed a bill to make it legal for Rabinow to serve on the AGDC board. A conflict between state statutes and the Alaska Constitution made it unclear whether an out-of-state resident could serve on the AGDC board. The bill, which the governor has already signed into law, now makes a nonresident appointment legal.

Even so, Democrats fought to block Rabinow’s appointment during the hearings.

Rabinow is from Houston, Texas and has had a long career with ExxonMobil heading up its pipeline company.

Rep. Chris Tuck, the House minority leader, cracked a joke about Rabinow’s residency.

“You see Houston. Don’t be confused,” he said. “That’s not Houston, Alaska. That’s Houston, Texas.”

Tuck, however, was serious in his opposition to Rabinow serving on the AGDC board.

“It just looks questionable,” Tuck said. “We’re talking about Alaska’s future. Making sure these board appointments are Alaskans is an additional firewall in protecting Alaskans’ best interests.”

Sen. Hollis French, the Senate majority leader, called Rabinow’s appointment a conflict of interest.

“He’s spent nearly his entire professional career for one oil company,” French said.

Democrats have said Rabinow shouldn’t be on the board of a state corporation which will be playing a key role in developing a liquefied natural gas project in partnership with ExxonMobil. Two other oil producers, ConocoPhillips and BP, as well as TransCanada, a pipeline building company, are the state’s other partners in a project with a price tag ranging between $45-$65 billion. One of AGDC’s main jobs will be to make sure gas is available for in-state use as well as export.

French said he didn’t see why Exxon should get 25 percent of the project and a seat on the AGDC board.

“I don’t think they should get 20 percent of the board positions on the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation board,” French said.

Others like Sen. Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, questioned whether the governor really needed to look outside the state to fill the vacancy.

“To say that we don’t have expertise in this state, to find one Alaskan who can serve on this board, I think that’s insulting to the people of this state,” Wielechowski said.

Barrow Democrat Ben Nageak said he knows firsthand how outside expertise can make all the difference, as it did for his own Alaska Native corporation.

“If they hadn’t hired these people from outside, I don’t know where we’d be today,” said Nageak, who told lawmakers the outside experts helped to groom a generation of local leaders.

Other Rabinow supporters talked about how the rest of the AGDC board believes the governor made the right call, especially the chairman, former Attorney General John Burns.

“Mr. Burns has said Mr. Rabinow exemplifies why we allow out-of-staters to be serving on the AGDC board,” said Rep. Mike Hawker, an Anchorage Republican.

The governor appointed Rabinow in September and feared Rabinow would quit the board if the legal issues weren’t resolved.

Rep. Ben Herron, a Bethel Democrat, said he spoke with Rabinow, who reassured him that he understood his job on the board was to look out for Alaskan interests, not for the industry.

Herron also spoke with former Senate President Drue Pearce, who also serves on the AGDC board.

“In her explanation, there was almost a sense of relief that we did have someone that was on the other side. We did have someone that wants to make this project the most valuable project we’ll ever develop, that we’ll ever deliver to Alaskans,” Herron said.

After a long debate, Rabinow breezed through the confirmation process with a 43-17 vote.

Another appointment was contested. Democrats said Bernard Washington, who Parnell appointed to the State Assessment Review Board, was another instance of the governor trying to stack key boards and commissions with members friendly to the oil industry.

The review board deals with oil company property tax disputes, mostly involving the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

Washington has worked in the oil industry for 35 years and  has expertise in pipeline valuation.

Oil company property taxes are an important source of income to municipalities and boroughs, who have waged battles in court to collect a bigger share of taxes.

In one case, the courts ruled that oil companies undervalued trans-Alaska pipeline properties by billions of dollars.

Latest Stories

  • News

    M/V Susitna ready for sale to the Philippine Red Cross

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 21:23

    The Matanuska-Susitna Borough got good news Tuesday about its ferry, which never transported any passengers and is in the process of being sold. Crews in Seattle have been working to repair the M/V Susitna‘s four water damaged engines. On June 23, the boat passed sea trials with representatives from the Philippine Red Cross and Mat-Su […]

  • Lifestyle

    FDA approves first pill to treat all forms of hepatitis C

    by Associated Press on Jun 28, 20:41

    Federal health officials on Tuesday approved the first pill to treat all major forms of hepatitis C, the latest in a series of drug approvals that have reshaped treatment of the liver-destroying virus. The Food and Drug Administration approved the combination pill, Epclusa, from Gilead Sciences, for patients with and without liver damage. The new drug’s […]

  • News

    Young gardeners grow food for children in need

    by Shannon Ballard on Jun 28, 20:12

    Some Anchorage kids are exploring nature, playing in the dirt and growing a passion for helping those less fortunate than themselves. Education specialist Patrick Ryan said most children would love gardening if simply given the chance. He teaches the Junior Master Gardener day camp each summer at the Alaska Botanical Garden. “I just want them to […]

  • News

    JBER Fisher House expanding to meet the needs of military patients and families

    by Bonney Bowman on Jun 28, 19:59

    The Fisher House on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson offers veterans, service members and their families a free place to stay if they have to travel to Anchorage for medical treatment. The house opened four years ago, but need has been so high, the organization is now planning to expand. House manager Jenny Hall said they can […]

  • Crime

    Driver charged with murder, kidnapping following Monday night crash in East Anchorage

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 17:00

    Last updated at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 The Anchorage Police Department says a driver involved in a collision late Monday night is facing charges of murder, kidnapping and sexual assault, among others. At 11:40 p.m., police responded to the scene of a crash on the 2800 block of Debarr Road. A Subaru, driven […]

  • News

    Governor appoints Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska attorney general

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 16:30

    Gov. Bill Walker named Jahna Lindemuth as Alaska’s next attorney general Tuesday. She will take over for Craig Richards, who resigned June 23. “I am pleased to welcome Jahna Lindemuth as a member of my cabinet and the new leader of the Alaska Department of Law,” Walker said in a statement. “Jahna was one of […]

  • News

    Alaska to receive $2.5 million from emissions-cheating settlement against Volkswagen

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jun 28, 15:30

    More than 1,200 Volkswagen and Audi vehicles with emission test-cheating technology have been sold in the state of Alaska, prompting the state’s Department of Law to join more than 30 other states in a settlement against the company. The settlement requires Volkswagen to pay more than $570 million to the participating states for the marketing and […]

  • DayBreak

    Local music shop celebrates 170 years of the saxophone

    by Daybreak Staff on Jun 28, 13:52

    One-hundred-and-seventy years ago Tuesday, the saxophone was patented in 1846. The patent look of it was drawn up and filed by musician and inventor Adolphe sax of Paris, France. In honor of it’s anniversary, Anchorage shop, The Music Man, is celebrating with some workshops, demonstrations and a look at one version of the sax, that can […]