Alaska DNR commissioner is third cabinet official to quit in two months

Corri Feige (left) in her previous role as head of the state Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Oil and Gas, reading out bids during the state’s annual North Slope lease sale. (Rachel Waldholz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Corri Feige, the head of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, will resign June 30, she told Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Monday. The decision was made public Tuesday morning.

Feige is the third member of Dunleavy’s cabinet to announce their resignation in the past two months. Education Commissioner Michael Johnson announced his resignation last month, and Corrections Commissioner Nancy Dahlstrom resigned in order to run for lieutenant governor.

Since December, Dunleavy has also replaced the commissioners of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development and Administration. The Alaska Legislature confirmed Julie Sande to lead Commerce and Paula Vrana to head Administration.

Historically, cabinet changes are common at the end of a governor’s first term, even if a governor is re-elected to a second term.

Lorraine Henry, DNR’s communications director, said Feige was unavailable to speak about her decision to resign. Feige was one of Dunleavy’s original cabinet picks, and in her letter of resignation, she said her family has supported her for the past three and a half years but now, “Due to recent developments, the time has come for me to return the support my family has so generously shown. I will retire from my position as commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources at close of business on June 30, 2022.”

She did not identify the developments in the letter.

In her term, DNR launched an initiative to assert state ownership and control of lands and waters from the federal government. 

“It is my sincere hope that this initiative will continue and remain a priority focus of the department,” she said.

DNR also encouraged the mining of rare-earth minerals used in electronics manufacturing. Feige said DNR has also begun work on a “carbon capture, use and sequestration industry in Alaska.”

Carbon-capture projects have been promoted as a possible solution to climate change. So far, they have not been developed on a large scale.

Feige said she believes the state “must continue to promote a strong timber industry in Alaska,” even amid federal opposition.

In a prepared statement, Dunleavy said he “regretfully accepted” Feige’s resignation, adding that she “is a shining example of what public service can be. Her list of accomplishments during her three years at the helm of DNR was impactful, to say the least.”

Dunleavy said he will appoint an interim commissioner by June 30. A permanent appointee will be subject to legislative confirmation.

Feige also serves as a member of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board of trustees in a seat reserved for a cabinet member. Feige’s departure means Dunleavy must appoint a new cabinet official. 

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