Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/10/2003 10:07 AM House RLS

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 142-DNR LEAD RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS                                                                                 
CHAIR ROKEBERG  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be SENATE  BILL NO.  142, "An Act  designating the  Department of                                                               
Natural  Resources  as  lead   agency  for  resource  development                                                               
projects;  making conforming  amendments;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
Number 494                                                                                                                      
MARY  SIROKY, Legislative  Liaison, Office  of the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department  of Environmental  Conservation  (DEC); Department  of                                                               
Natural Resources  (DNR), noted that Commissioner  Thomas Irwin's                                                               
testimony  should  be included  in  the  committee packet.    Ms.                                                               
Siroky explained  that SB 142  establishes the Office  of Project                                                               
Management and Permitting.  This  office will coordinate with DNR                                                               
to  build  upon  the  state   mine  permit  team  concept  that's                                                               
currently  in  statute.    This  is  where  DNR  coordinates  the                                                               
activities of the permitting agencies.   Ms. Siroky said that [he                                                               
state mine  permit team concept]  has been a very  successful way                                                               
of doing  business, in terms  of Fort  Knox.  This  [concept] has                                                               
been used  at Alpine  and Fort  Thompson as  well as  other large                                                               
mine  projects.   Ms. Siroky  clarified  that this  [legislation]                                                               
wouldn't  change DEC's  statutory or  regulatory requirements  or                                                               
authorities.   Section 4  repeals the  Environmental Coordination                                                               
Act, which  hasn't been used  by the administration since  it was                                                               
put into place.  Sections 2 and 3 maintain DEC's appeal process.                                                                
CHAIR  ROKEBERG clarified  that SB  142, Version  23-GS1070\A, is                                                               
the version that passed the Senate and is before the committee.                                                                 
MS.  SIROKY   explained  that   the  Senate   Resources  Standing                                                               
Committee had  added a  sunset provision,  which included  all of                                                               
the Environmental Coordination Act language.                                                                                    
Number 469                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA asked  whether  DNR  really needed  this                                                               
statutory change.   She  asked if  a memorandum  of understanding                                                               
(MOU) could  be utilized.   Also,  she understood  DNR to  be the                                                               
lead agency for mining permits.                                                                                                 
MS.  SIROKY  noted  that the  mining  statute  responsibility  is                                                               
currently in statute.  This  legislation would put in statute the                                                               
process  that  has been  working  very  well for  10-plus  years.                                                               
Although  she agreed  that the  administration  doesn't need  for                                                               
this  process  to  be  in statute  for  coordination  to  happen,                                                               
placing it in  statute does ensure that this  good idea continues                                                               
in perpetuity.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA turned attention  to page 2, lines 23-24,                                                               
which  says, "lead  and coordinate  all matters  relating to  the                                                           
state's   review  and   authorization  of   resource  development                                                           
projects."   "That's literally everything,"  she said.   She said                                                           
she  understood that  could  be  more than  just  DEC or  [Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish & Game] matters.                                                                                             
MS. SIROKY  related her  understanding that  people will  come to                                                               
this new  office in DNR and  ask for these services.   Therefore,                                                               
it will be an applicant's  choice to participate in this process.                                                               
The  applicants,  she  believes, will  pay  through  reimbursable                                                               
services  agreements  (RSAs) for  the  services  that the  agency                                                               
provides.   The assumption  is that [this  process] will  be used                                                               
for larger projects.                                                                                                            
Number 447                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  COGHILL pointed  out  that  the permissive  "may"                                                               
language indicates  that [this  process] would  have to  be dealt                                                               
with in an agreement.                                                                                                           
MS. SIROKY agreed.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  expressed the  need  to  be sure  that                                                               
because it's relating to the  state's review and authorization of                                                               
resource development  projects it  wouldn't be  inconsistent with                                                               
allowing court review.                                                                                                          
MS. SIROKY  replied that there  has been no such  indication from                                                               
any of the attorneys general that have reviewed this.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ turned  to the  repealers, specifically                                                               
AS  46.35   regarding  permit  coordination  and   extension  and                                                               
inquired as to  why that was being eliminated if  DNR has already                                                               
been designated as the lead agency.                                                                                             
MS.  SIROKY explained  that it's  a statute  that the  department                                                               
never  used.    That  statute   directs  DEC  to  coordinate  and                                                               
establish  a  permit  information  office.    The  aforementioned                                                               
office was followed by the  Alaska Coastal Management Program and                                                               
the   establishment    of   the   [Division    of]   Governmental                                                               
Coordination,  which  ended  up  doing all  of  the  coordination                                                               
functions.   Therefore, [AS 46.35]  was never really used  by the                                                               
agency in any type of coordination  fashion and thus it's a relic                                                               
for which there is no use.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  pointed out  that  AS  46.35.010 is  a                                                               
legislative   determination  that   says   permits  and   related                                                               
documents are undesirable  and should be [eliminated].   He asked                                                               
if the desire is to make permitting more difficult.                                                                             
MS. SIROKY  replied no.   The  legislation eliminates  the entire                                                               
chapter, AS  46.35, because it  hasn't been used.   Although some                                                               
of the  language speaks  to how the  agencies should  behave, the                                                               
language isn't necessary to continue with the regulatory reform.                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ pointed  out that  AS 46.35.020  is the                                                               
purpose,  AS  46.35.030  is  the   master  applications,  and  AS                                                               
46.35.040 deals with public hearings.                                                                                           
CHAIR  ROKEBERG  reiterated  that  the entire  chapter  is  being                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  acknowledged that and pointed  out that                                                               
there is no replacement for it.                                                                                                 
MS. SIROKY  clarified that the  chapter has been replaced  by the                                                               
Alaska Coastal Management Act.                                                                                                  
Number 398                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  agreed,   but  highlighted  that  other                                                               
legislation  in  the  system  will  leave  a  void  in  terms  of                                                               
coordination.  Therefore, there is  some confusion with regard to                                                               
how  the  lead  agency  [concept]   will  work.    She  said  she                                                               
understood that some [of the  lead agency concept] will be picked                                                               
up in  regulations, which is  cause for some concern  because the                                                               
legislature  doesn't   draft  those.     Representative  Kerttula                                                               
specified that  this master  application was  used only  once and                                                               
was unsuccessful.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE BERKOWITZ  asked if the public  hearing portion of                                                               
the chapter being eliminated is being maintained elsewhere.                                                                     
MS. SIROKY replied  yes.  All of the  public hearing requirements                                                               
are  available  in  other  statutes   for  both  agencies.    The                                                               
department  saved  and moved  two  sections  regarding an  appeal                                                               
process that the department developed in regulation.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE   BERKOWITZ  drew   attention  to   AS  41.17.085,                                                               
regarding  permit applications  under  the  Forest Resources  and                                                               
Practices [Act] ("Forest Practices Act").                                                                                       
MS.  SIROKY related  her belief  that is  being addressed  in the                                                               
Forest Practices  Act and thus  is likely why it's  being deleted                                                               
Number 370                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE  moved to report  SB 142 out  of committee                                                               
with individual recommendations and  the accompanying zero fiscal                                                               
notes.  There being no objection, it was so ordered.                                                                            

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