- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - As legislators consider whether to buy out one of the state’s partners in a liquefied natural gas project, questions have been raised about who is making decisions for the state and who is accountable for what.

House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said he thinks a number of legislators are probably comfortable with a buyout of TransCanada Corp., but the details of the buyout, such as what happens then, concern him and others.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Walker, Katie Marquette, said by email that the administration is continuing to do its best to be responsive to legislators’ questions.

Administration officials appeared before the Senate Finance Committee to field questions Friday, and Walker responded to lawmakers’ questions in a letter saying that as governor, he’s in charge of executive branch responsibilities associated with the project.

Walker wants the state to buy out TransCanada’s share, saying it would give the state a greater say in the project.

Looming over the special session, and perhaps lending urgency to a decision, is the date by which the project partners are scheduled to vote on the work scope and budget for next year. All the parties need to be willing to put up their share of the money to move forward, said Steve Butt, senior project manager for the Alaska LNG Project. That date is Dec. 4.

The administration has proposed that the state-sanctioned Alaska Gasline Development Corp., or AGDC, take over the position now held by TransCanada.

If the buyout and needed funding is approved by legislators, AGDC would hold the state’s equity stake in the pipeline, gas treatment plant and liquefaction facilities and be in a position to cast a vote on Dec. 4, said Martin Schultz with the Department of Law.

The Walker administration also is trying to secure agreements from the producer partners to ensure that if they pull out of the project, their gas would stay committed to it.

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