Shively quits resources post

Commissioner on the job for six years

Posted: Thursday, July 13, 2000

The commissioner of the state Department of Natural Resources, John Shively, is resigning. Shively, 56, said he wants to spend more time with his family than the DNR job will allow.

``I have a 9-year-old daughter,'' he said this morning from Anchorage. ``My absences from home have become very difficult for her and it's a strain on my wife, and I've just decided at some point I need to be able to give myself back to them.''

He announced Wednesday that his last day will be Sept. 8.

Bob King, press secretary for Gov. Tony Knowles, said no replacement has been chosen yet. Knowles appointed Shively as DNR commissioner in January 1995, shortly after he took office.

Shively said he believes the state's relationship with the oil industry improved during his time at DNR, and the industry has been reinvigorated, ``which is extremely important to the economy of this state.''

He pointed to a rewrite of the Northstar oil lease, in which the state traded profits for higher royalties to encourage BP Amoco to develop the offshore field.

Although some criticized the deal, Shively said he believes when it's viewed in history it will be apparent the state got more than it would have otherwise. He also pointed to the state's negotiations on the BP-Amoco merger with Atlantic Richfield Co. and strengthening of the mining industry as accomplishments.

Knowles praised Shively's work during his administration.

``The past six years have witnessed a revitalization of the oil and mining industries in Alaska,'' Knowles said in a news release. ``John Shively's been an integral part of that progress ...''

Knowles also named Shively to the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees and called upon him to lead negotiations on tribal issues.

Ken Freeman, executive director of the pro-development Resource Development Council, said Shively was fair and reasonable as DNR commissioner. The development community ``fared well'' during his tenure, Freeman said, but didn't always get everything it wanted.

``There were some decisions he made that we agreed with and some decisions we disagreed with,'' Freeman said. ``I think at the end of the day he always had the best interests of the state in mind in any policy decision.''

Jim Sykes, executive director of the Alaska Public Interest Research Group, was far more critical.

``John's done so many good things in the past, but in the Knowles administration, oil has run the day,'' Sykes said. ``The oil industry has gotten just about everything they wanted.''

He called Northstar a ``giveaway'' and was also critical of Shively's handling of the BP-Arco merger and other issues.

Buck Lindekugel, conservation director at Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, said Shively's performance has been a mixed bag.

In Southeast, he said, Shively's department has attempted to update planning efforts, but not done as much as some would like in land-use planning and regulation of commercial tourism on public lands.

``But you do have to remember who he had to work with,'' Lindekugel said. ``He had to work with a hostile and anti-environmental Legislature that were trying to cut his planning money and prevent any conservation on state lands.''

Shively said he doesn't have any plans for what he will do after Sept. 8.

He previously worked as chief operating officer for NANA Development Corp., and was a consultant for NANA and other companies when he was appointed DNR commissioner.

He was chief of staff during Democratic Gov. Bill Sheffield's administration in the mid-1980s and was a key figure in the scandal that nearly led to the impeachment of Sheffield.

Shively left the Sheffield administration after admitting he lied and destroyed documents during an investigation of whether the governor should be impeached for allegedly manipulating a state office lease in Fairbanks to favor a political supporter.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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