Bill Britt, the state's Gas Pipeline Coordinator, told PNA this afternoon that he informed his staff last Wednesday that he would be leaving the Gas Pipeline Office June 14, a move he had planned for some time.
Later that same day, Britt said, he found out that Foothills Pipe Lines would be withdrawing funding for the office. GPO staff were informed Thursday.
Most of the GPO funding came from Foothills, he said, with some fiscal year 2002 money from the state general fund and some from the producers' consortium.
But no money is anticipated in FY 2003 from either the general fund or the producers, so the GPO will go away.
"Foothills involved the termination clause in the reimbursement MOU and that's a 90-day clause, so it's actually closer to the end of August" that the office needs to be closed, Britt said.
Some 14 state employees are affected and Britt said he will be looking for other jobs for them. "It's certainly my hope that I can create soft landings for every one of them," he said.
Britt will be leaving to do what he and his wife have had planned, he said: he will manage a remodel of their home, watch their son and do some consulting on the side.
The governor authorized the GPO about a year and a half ago, Britt said, and it actually got going toward the end of last summer.
"Ramping up an agency like this is not an easy thing to do and we have a considerable investment of energy into this … and much of that investment will disappear ... and have to be recreated," he said.
Foothills Pipe Lines Alaska Inc. is the successor and agent for the entity that began the right of way permitting process some 20 years ago and Britt said a lot of effort has been determining which of those old records still have meaning and which are just historic.
Foothills has also submitted information recently, and Britt said he will be asking senior staff for status memos on what is where and what is significant.
"Now the exercise will be to archive those files in such a fashion that when this ramps up again the next gas pipeline office won't have to go through what we had to go through."