November 1, 2012 | Volume 42, No.44

Earnest revisits disclosure pacts

Haines Borough Manager Mark Earnest has said he would “just as soon terminate” a confidentiality agreement signed with a Yukon energy consortium but a company representative who co-signed the pact said this week he’d like to know why.

Dempster Energy Services operations manager Ron Daub Monday confirmed the agreement that extends three years can be withdrawn.

“It’s not binding. We’re not in business together. We have some mutual goals that we’re going to explore together,” Daub said.

According to Daub, the agreement protects sensitive information from being disclosed that might alter the market or be of value to competitors. If the borough wants to withdraw from it, Earnest would have to call him and disclose his reasoning, Daub said.

Earnest, who has come under criticism for signing the agreement, said he will work to keep future discussions about potential development more public, including by striking a confidentiality clause from a memorandum of understanding the borough is considering signing with Prophecy Platinum Corp.

Prophecy, developer of the Wellgreen deposit near Burwash Landing, Y.T., is interested in using Haines as a transshipment port for nickel ore.

“There was some concern. So what I did was I went back and we struck that language out of the MOU so it’s not there,” Earnest said.

The Port Steering Development Committee was scheduled to review the MOU during its Oct. 25 meeting, but the meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum. It has not yet been rescheduled.

Earnest said the experience will guide how the borough proceeds with discussions with Dempster Energy, a Yukon First Nations consortium studying the possibility of shipping natural gas through Haines.

“We’ll do it this way next time,” Earnest said. “I don’t want to get into a situation where people are upset or suggesting that there is something going on when there really isn’t.”

Earnest said the five-page non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement he signed with Dempster Energy on June 6 “doesn’t bind” and that there would be no consequences to his termination of the agreement.

“The next step in this was and is that this document goes away. We rescind it, we do something. And then we negotiate a memorandum of understanding,” Earnest said.

Earnest stated he had the authority to sign the non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with Dempster, that there was nothing wrong with it, and that the issue is really “much ado about nothing.”

Earnest said he hasn’t spoken with anyone at Dempster Energy in months.