Walker names DNR, Revenue commissioners

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Saturday, November 22, 2014 9:04pm
  • News

JUNEAU — Just over a week before he is sworn in, Gov.-elect Bill Walker announced his first Cabinet picks — Mark Myers as Natural Resources commissioner and Randall Hoffbeck as Revenue commissioner.

Myers is a former director of the state Division of Oil and Gas and U.S. Geological Survey who most recently has served as vice chancellor of research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Hoffbeck formerly served as a petroleum property assessor for the state and as a North Slope Borough finance director.

Walker takes office Dec. 1. In an interview Friday, he said he is examining positions and not looking at a wholesale change-out of personnel from Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration. There would have to be a reason for him to make a change, he said.

Myers would replace Joe Balash, who has been a key figure in current efforts to advance a major liquefied natural gas project.

During the campaign, Walker raised concerns with the state’s position in the project, saying Alaska isn’t in the driver’s seat. He said he also worried about letting companies with competing projects around the world determine if this one would advance. The state is pursuing the project with TransCanada Corp. and the North Slope’s major players — BP, Exxon Mobil Corp. and ConocoPhillips.

But Walker also said he is not interested in slowing down the project or starting over but in advancing it. On Friday, he said he would start off with the framework as it stands and said his preference is to stay within it. But Walker said he wants to hear more details about the project.

Walker spokeswoman Grace Jang said Saturday that it’s too early to say what might happen with the current gas line team. She said Walker would be getting briefed on gas line issues but she said he likely would make no decision on that before the inauguration.

Hoffbeck would replace Angela Rodell.

The choices were announced in a news release issued early Saturday morning. Walker’s camp was concerned with a possible leak of the names Walker was considering and made the announcement to stay ahead of it, Jang said.

On Friday, outgoing Gov. Sean Parnell said he will not request the resignations of the current commissioners. Parnell said it will be up to Walker decide whether he wants to ask for the resignations.

Walker said it is fairly standard for a new administration to request resignations, and he would have to decide whether to accept those or not.

The Cabinet appointments are subject to legislative approval.

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