December 13, 2002 --- Vol. 8, No. 130December 2002

Forest Service approves plan of operations for Katalla drilling

The Chugach National Forest said Dec. 12 it has approved Cassandra Energy Corp.’s plan of operations for oil and gas drilling near Katalla. Chuck Frey, planning staff officer for the Chugach National Forest, said work could begin as soon as March 27 if the agency’s decision is not appealed and, if appealed, the decision is upheld on all points.

After a 45 day appeal period, which began yesterday, the Forest Service will have 45 days to respond to all appeals. Fifteen days from the end of the response period, work can begin at Katalla.

The project is nearing what appears to be successful completion of the state Division of Governmental Coordination’s Alaska Coastal Management Program review, a DGC official told PNA. The Forest Service permits will not be issued until that review is final and the project was found to be consistent with the ACMP.

There are two major components of the plan of operations: (1) exploratory oil and gas drilling operations, and (2) access to the drill site and crew camp site which consists of barging equipment and supplies up the Katalla River from the Gulf of Alaska. It also involves construction of 550 feet of new temporary access road, establishment of a temporary staging area, and use and maintenance of an existing temporary access road on National Forest System lands.

Rutherford turns down DNR commissioner post

Marty Rutherford, deputy commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources, sent an email to DNR employees this morning saying that last Friday she had been offered the position of DNR commissioner by Gov. Frank Murkowski. She turned down the offer and is leaving public service.

“For the past eleven years it has been my privilege to work at the Department of Natural Resources with all of you. … I was greatly honored when Gov. Murkowski offered me the DNR Commissioner position. However, for various reasons I have decided it is time for me to leave public service. I will resign around the middle of January,” Rutherford said in the email.

“During the past thirty days the senior management team and I have been working with Gov. Murkowski's transition team, both the small department review team and the larger policy group. These teams, led by Harry Noah and including John Shively, have been collaborative, thorough and very non intrusive. And, to your credit, they have determined that DNR is an effective and well run organization,” she continued.

Rutherford said the transition has “proceeded very smoothly” and the new Cabinet appointments are “outstanding individuals.” She said she was “very impressed with the pragmatic approach embodied in the appointments and decisions to date.”

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