Alaska’s new AG hands over Point Thomson and other cases to assistant AG

Alaska’s new Attorney General, Craig Richards, has delegated authority of certain cases that he was working on as a private attorney which might be at odds with the state’s interests. In a public notice, Richards said that Chief Assistant Attorney General Martin Schultz, who is with the Oil, Gas, and Mining section of the Department of Law, will now handle those cases, which, among other things, involve property tax assessments of the trans-Alaska pipeline and litigation involving Point Thomson.

Richards was a partner with Gov. Bill Walker before Walker won the governor’s race. Their firm, Walker & Richards, filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging the Point Thomson settlement between the state and Exxon, claiming that the state acted unconstitutionally when it settled the long-disputed field without legislative approval. Both Walker and Richards have been highly critical of the settlement, as has Robin Brena, the lawyer who is buying the law firm of Walker & Richards. Walker said on the campaign trail that as governor, he would drop out of the suit, which is now in front of the Alaska Supreme Court.  On Dec. 1, Walker filed a “Substitute Counsel” motion with the court. As of Saturday night, it was unknown who took over the case for the firm.

Here’s what Richards wrote, which went out as a public notice:

Before becoming attorney general I ended my private law practice, but I still expect to receive payments from some former clients for work I performed.

Some of that work was on matters that involved the State of Alaska, and my clients’ interests were different from the State’s interests in those matters.

Therefore, at least until my former clients no longer have financial obligations to me, I do not intend to take or withhold official action affecting matters that involve the State and in which I previously represented those clients.

I delegate to Chief Assistant Attorney General Martin Schultz my authority to take or withhold official action affecting those matters, which include

  1. appeals and other proceedings arising out of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System property tax assessments for the years 2007 through 2015;
  2. proceedings concerning application of Alaska’s taxation cap to the City of Valdez;
  3. proceedings concerning imposition of taxes on the Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal and other property used to support operation of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System;
  4. the City of Valdez’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the State Assessment Review Board;
  5. the City of Valdez’s challenge concerning the taxability of vessels and other marine equipment under state and federal law;
  6. proceedings concerning the challenge to the Point Thomson settlement;
  7. any other matter that involves the State and in which I or Walker & Richards, LLC previously represented a client other than the State;
  8. and any matter substantially related to any of these matters.

I intend this delegation to remain in effect at least so long as I have a financial interest in any receivables of Walker & Richards, LLC.

I expect those interests to terminate no later than February 1, 2015.

This delegation will remain in effect, however, until I withdraw it.

December 26, 2014

Craig W. Richards
Attorney General


26 thoughts on “Alaska’s new AG hands over Point Thomson and other cases to assistant AG

  1. Mike Coons

    “Walker said on the campaign trail that as governor, he would drop out of the suit, which is now in front of the Alaska Supreme Court.” In point of fact that question was raised at the last debate with the MSBA. He specifically said he would drop the suit if he won election. So another reason to not trust his word?
    Amanda, don’t know why you tossed in bringing a bible and reading a passage for the Freedom Caucus, kind of out there and not one of your better articles. ADN, the Anchorage Democrat News along with many libs pounced on the story. Fortunately, conservatives are fighting back effectively.

  2. Crude is Rude, Gas is Groovy

    People ask me why & how this poly-logic works for Alaska….
    The Best Market for Alaska’s light-alkanes is; ALASKA….

    In the territory of technocratic taxonomy, the technology gets taxed, not the people.
    The technology is incubated & hatched,
    the flock of fowl are shared equitably.

    Polyolefin technology can make a lot of plastic trash when not managed properly..
    [ I recycle all my plastic bags as insulation ]
    Alaska needs megatons of polyolefin-pipe..
    ..we have many infrastructure uses for it statewide.

    Polypipe is very very very valuable for water-control..
    We waste mega$$$ importing our own polypipe,
    when we should be making it here.

    Polypipe is super handy for gas gathering & distribution,
    why don’t we make our own gaspipe here in AK ??

    Polypipe is used in every level of civil-engineering and construction.
    Honeybuckets & sewerpipe are made of the same polyolefins.

    Polypipe is the best material for sound environmental mining and energy developments..
    ..small hydro, geopolymer component slurry pipe,
    coal slurry, biomass pulp slurry, aquaculture, etc.

    Polypipe is 100% recyclable into regrind & remelt.

  3. Crude is Rude, Gas is Groovy

    The Best Market for Alaska’s light-alkanes is; ALASKA

    It’s 2.5 million feet from the Badami pipeline to Fairbanks..
    8″ flexpipe can be installed on this route in 6-months,
    after delivery of the materials onsite.
    Cost of pipe = $100mil
    [ we can make this flexpipe right here in AK ]

    An AK-owned polyolefin plant in Fairbanks would turn the downward spiral of state revenues into a steady climb,
    the sky is the limit.

    CLICK on my Nick^ for a link to this article >>

    BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Jack Dalrymple along with William Jeffrey Gilliam, CEO of Badlands NGL LLC, today announced the development of a North Dakota manufacturing plant that will convert ethane, a byproduct of natural gas processing, into polyethylene which is used to make a wide variety of end-use consumer and industrial plastics.

    “This project is fully aligned with our goals to reduce flaring, add value to our energy resources right here in North Dakota and create diverse job opportunities across the state,” Dalrymple said. “By advancing the responsible development of our energy resources and by adding value to all of our resources, the opportunities in North Dakota are boundless.”

    Joining Dalrymple and Gilliam for the announcement were Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, both of whom serve with Dalrymple on the North Dakota Industrial Commission which regulates the state’s energy industry. Sen. John Hoeven also participated in the announcement which was held at the state Capitol in Bismarck.

    “The role of the Industrial Commission in helping the Badlands’ project come together reflects the Commission’s mission to promote oil and gas production in a manner that prevents waste and protects the rights of mineral owners,” Goehring said. “When completed, this project by itself has the potential to reduce most of the flaring of natural gas in our state. That’s real progress and good news for North Dakota.”

    The value-added manufacturing plant will tap into North Dakota’s abundant supplies of liquid natural gas to source ethane. The facility will convert ethane gas to low density and high density plastics which are used to make a wide range of end products for consumers and industry. The facility will be able to produce 1.5 million metric tons of polyethylene, or 3.3 billion pounds annually, and will employ 500 highly trained people in manufacturing, marketing, administrative, safety, financial and executive positions. The project will take at least three years for full development.

    “This is a good example of what we can accomplish by adding value to our energy resources,” Stenehjem said. “This plant will not only help us reduce the flaring of natural gas, but it will also create new, high-paying jobs and further diversify our state economy.”

    Badlands intends to market the majority of the polyethylene products domestically, but product will also find its way to markets in Asia, South America and Europe. Project developers say that the plant’s location in North Dakota will enable them to efficiently ship to world markets from the Pacific Northwest and from Atlantic ports.

    “Badlands is proud to bring this manufacturing facility to North Dakota,” Gilliam said. “We are committed to maximizing the value of Bakken ethane for producers, their midstream partners and all gas processors. This facility is the solution needed to add value to North Dakota’s ethane supply and make it a commercially marketable product. In doing so, there will actually be a market advantage for North Dakota polyethylene products.

    “North Dakota elected officials and agencies have provided Badlands with by far the most business-friendly and pro-development environment in the United States, Gilliam said. “We have been fortunate to attract many of North Dakota’s leading business and community leaders as Badlands investors, and we continue to discuss debt and equity capital markets needs with major financial institutions.”

  4. Jon K


    The state tried to terminate the unit and the leases. The state lost – once in 2007 and then in 2010. Judge Gleason ruled against the state both times. The litigation began in 2006 and by 2012 the state had made very little progress. The option was to keep litigating for years or accept a development plan that finally moved the field into production.

  5. Jon K

    Forecast, the definitions start on page 5 of the settlement agreement and end on page 14. Perhaps you skipped over those pages?

    All state agencies reserve all powers that afforded to them under the law. The AOGCC retains its authority to review development plans. Exxon must still submit and receive approvals for Plans of Operations. These plans will continue to go out for public review. Exxon’s must continue to submit Plans of Development that comply with all requirements set out in the Point Thomson Unit Agreement and under DNR’s regulations.

  6. Lynn Willis

    Circumstances have placed him in a new position. Lawyers are hired advocates by profession so he is probably use to this quandary regarding changing advocacy postions. You might remember Sean Parnell was a advocate against Alaskans in the Exxon Valdez spill litigation. I have no idea if either of them, after election, judged themselves “free of conflict”. You would have to ask them.

  7. AH HA

    Perhaps Walker is of the opinion that since he has now divested himself of the practice he is no longer financially involved and therefor now free of conflict?

  8. Lynn Willis

    I did read that Governor Walker has designated a, as of yet unidentified, representative for him before the Alaska Supreme Court in the Pt Thompson litigation. I apologize for not being able to find the specific article in the ADN; however, that action is also a good sign of objectivity.
    Also, I don’t know who the attorney of record was in all these cases who could be expected to recuse him or her self ; yet, in any event, the actions of the A.G. reflect on the Governor who appoints him or her.

  9. AH HA

    Am I wrong? I seem to recall that the real issue with the point Thompson leases was that they lacked a clear requirement for development in fact it was murky enough that the leaseholder was willing to spend a significant amount of money fighting the state in court.

    Any ‘give away’ would stem from the original lease language.

  10. Anonymous

    @Lynn, did I miss something? I agree that the AG is conflicted and has done the right thing however I don’t SE anything from Walker and wonder if he can effectively build a wall between himself and these cases even if he wanted to since he is now charged with acting in the states best interest at all times

  11. Shattered

    The all knowing Jon K. What a surprise.

    The Point Thompson lease should have been pulled long ago when the leaseholders failed to perform per the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. Then the State should have put it back on the market and entered into an agreement with someone who would have performed. Agreements are dissolved all the time due to non-performance. What makes agreements between the State of Alaska and Big Oil any different?

    Instead, the State allowed Exxon and Chevron to sit on them for several decades with little or no development contrary to the lease agreements. Only when the State offered them “a deal” (many sensible people would have considered the original lease agreements be a deal, but the oil companies somehow didn’t see the need to perform to the terms and conditions of those agreements), did they begin development of those leases some 40 years after entering into the agreements.

    These lease agreements should have been pulled many decades ago and offered to other interested parties. I would have loved to have seen the leases pulled from Exxon and Chevron for non-performance and some small players acquire and develop the leases. Unfortunately, the oil executives and lobbyists were able to convince the State that it is important to maintain the current non-competitive environment on the Slope and allow them to sit on these leases and not develop the resource. Competition is a scary and bad thing that should be avoided. It’s best for the State you know.

    I’m sure that lobbyists and oil executives had nothing to do with the State’s course of action on these leases. There couldn’t have been any inappropriate relationships between the oil industry and public officials. There has to be some other reason that these lessors were not required to perform to the agreements that they signed.

    I guess the bright side is that the leases are being developed now. Hopefully the lessors will be held to the terms and conditions of the leases. Time will tell, but I don’t have a good feeling about it.

  12. Lynn Willis

    The designated A.G. and Governor Walker are taking the correct steps to distance themselves from this pending litigation.
    This roster of litigation has a common thread of advocating for the the interests of those who are in a relationship with the producers or, are perhaps being denied local revenue by state statute. That advocacy is a necessary function to protect the interests of all concerned. The courts will decide the validity of each of these cases; however, each case will be settled by a granting or denial of revenues to the litigants.
    Now that the government of Alaska has decided it is capable of functioning as an equity partner in the AKLNG project, I trust they understand that they can now look forward to increased exposure to this type of litigation from local authorities and citizens. As an example, the state has no business interest in the TAPS (Trans Alaska Pipeline System) so any litigation regarding valuation of TAPS assets for local tax purposes has no direct impact on state revenues; however, that will not be the case if (when) local authorities, desperate for revenues in our new reality of lower state funding, began to challenge the the valuations of the AKLNG assets which will be owned, in part, by the State of Alaska. Now we may well find ourselves in a situation where government funds from both local and state sources are being expended to support both sides of a legal proceeding involving “our” pipeline.
    While many Alaskans might worry about our future, attorneys should have no concerns.

  13. Anonymous

    All right kids no fighting on the playground. How about we all try to keep this at a higher level? I’m sure we are all capable of reasonable discussion minus personal attacks

  14. Forecast


    Oh, that’s painfully funny.

    There are no definitions, Jon. Try litigating a case without ’em.

    And public process? Forgettaboutit. Even state agencies have no power in this giveaway. Note that we got nothing more than what Palin had already gained.

  15. Jon K

    I have read the settlement. Exxon did write the first draft. The second draft was written by the state and it was a complete re-write. So what definitions are missing that make the document impossible to read? And where is the giveaway?

  16. forecast


    You need to read the actual “settlement”. It is written as if Sullivan told Exxon to write the first draft for Alaska.

  17. Jon K

    What policies have a supported that cause oil prices to crash or throughput to decline? I did support SB 21 because it brings in more revenue when oil is below $105 and because the generous ACES’ credits were setting us a pathway to poverty.

  18. Jon K

    Kudos to Craig. This is the right thing to do.


    There is no legal requirement that a settlement receive public notice or legislative approval. In fact, state law vests the authority to settle cases with one person: the AG.

    How is the Point Thomson settlement a giveaway? The state placed Exxon in default for refusing to develop. The state only agreed to settle when Exxon agreed to spend $4 billion to develop the field’s gas condensates. Without Point Thomson in development, you don’t have a gas line.

  19. forecast

    Well, “Gary”,

    The fact that you like agree with the insane philosophy of those you cite, tells the rational people all we need to know.

    Those are the saboteurs who are destroying Alaska. They have supported the mad policies that have given Alaska a $3.5 billion dollar deficit that is wiping out savings we built under ACES.

    I’ll comment more now, knowing how much the truth irritates you nitwits.

  20. Gary

    I’m a regular reader of this site and have come to enjoy the banter of many of your regular commenters. I really am impressed with Jon K, Gerrand and Crude is Rude (albeit Crude is Rude often comments on a scientific level above my competency of understanding). Many of your commenters I disagree with but hold them in high regard for their intellectual perspective. Frnakly, your site of commenters is interesting in and of itself. There are a few commenters that persist in demonstrating their ignorance and I’ve noticed that they have been called on for it by others. “Forecast” is one that I notice comments at an elementary level and regularly gets called on it as he/she should. If Jon K got an award for being one of youe smartest commenters, then Forecast stands unchallenged as the dumbest.

    Re this story post, I think AG Richards is doing the right and proper thing from an ethical point of view. In a small state, public officials will regilarly face ethical dilemmas. Recognizing the apparent ones and dealing with it in a transparent manner is always best.

  21. Forecast

    Not only did Sullivan and Parnell give away Pt. Thomson without legislative approval, they did so without any public notice, or public comment. In fact, they filed the court papers a few minutes before the end of the work day to ensure the public would not learn of their betrayal of Alaskans until it was too late.

    Reporters should read the actual giveaway agreement signed by Sullivan. It is so poorly written- and does not even include basic definitions- that Alaska would have a nearly impossible legal case if it had to litigate any disagreements.

    If ever there was any question about Sullivan incompetence, this giveaway documents it.

  22. Crude is Rude, Gas is Groovy

    Does anybody know or care how much HELIUM was actually in any&all of Alaska’s gas plays ??
    What was the percentage of HELIUM in Cook Inlet Gas in 1960’s ??
    What was the % of HELIUM in Prudhoe Bay gas in 1969 ?? & now ??
    What was the tested % of HELIUM in Pt.Thomsen gas in 1975 ?? & now ??
    .. and I ask the same questions about the isotope HELIUM-3.

    This is a very important question to the scientific truth about the geologic history of Alaska.
    …who has the peer-reviewed details of this set of data ??

    This is a very important question to the future economic health of Alaska.
    This is a very important question to help predict earthquakes in Alaska.

    ……does anybody have any info on this important subject ??

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