Legislature(2009 - 2010)BELTZ 105 (TSBldg)

03/30/2010 03:30 PM Senate COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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03:35:08 PM Start
03:35:41 PM SCR17
04:26:57 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved SCR 17 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
            SCR 17-ALASKA NORTHERN WATERS TASK FORCE                                                                        
3:35:41 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON announced the first  order of business to come before                                                               
the  committee  was  SCR  17.  He said  SCR  17  is  a  committee                                                               
resolution and a companion to HCR 22.                                                                                           
JIM  CULVER,   aide  to   Senator  Olson,  said   SCR  17   is  a                                                               
collaboration  of   the  bush  caucus,  including   the  work  of                                                               
Representatives Joule,  Austerman, Herron and Senator  Olson. The                                                               
shrinking  polar  ice cap  is  opening  Arctic waters  to  marine                                                               
transportation and  creating new  security concerns  and resource                                                               
development  opportunities. SCR  17  creates  a legislative  task                                                               
force to  develop recommendations  and coordinate  policy between                                                               
Alaska and the  federal government. Over 30  federal agencies are                                                               
working on this issue and Alaska  is not involved. The task force                                                               
will be  made up of  local government officials,  legislators and                                                               
federal  officials and  will hold  meetings  in Anchorage,  Nome,                                                               
Kotzebue and Barrow. The task force  will deliver a report to the                                                               
Legislature  in January  2012.  The fiscal  note,  for travel  to                                                               
these meetings, is  $94,000 for the next fiscal  year and $52,000                                                               
for the  following fiscal year. He  noted that HCR 22  was passed                                                               
out of House Community and Regional Affairs this morning.                                                                       
3:38:14 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  HESS,   aide  to  Representative  Joule,   noted  that                                                               
shipping  traffic   has  increased   in  arctic  waters   and  an                                                               
unannounced  cruise  ship  came   through.  The  Coast  Guard  is                                                               
increasing  its presence  and looking  at a  possible deep  water                                                               
port.  Changing  ice  conditions  will  allow  for  economic  and                                                               
resource  development.  Activity  has   already  begun  and  will                                                               
increase  in the  future.  Five hearings  for  the proposed  task                                                               
force are planned: two in Anchorage,  and one in Nome, Barrow and                                                               
SENATOR MENARD asked  how many open water summers  the arctic has                                                               
ELIZABETH HENSLEY,  intern to Representative Joule,  replied that                                                               
frozen ice  is present year round  but is depleting at  a rate of                                                               
nine percent  per decade. Summers  are not entirely ice  free but                                                               
passageways are present. Icebreakers are still necessary.                                                                       
CHAIR  OLSON  recognized  Representative Foster  as  joining  the                                                               
3:41:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR KOOKESH asked about any opposition to SCR 17.                                                                           
MS. HESS replied  that she has not heard  any opposition. Several                                                               
agencies, such as  the U.S. Arctic Commission,  brought the issue                                                               
to Representative Joule's attention and strongly support SCR 17.                                                                
SENATOR THOMAS asked  if any consideration has been  given to the                                                               
science  going on  in the  area as  there seems  to be  a lot  of                                                               
disagreement  about  what is  taking  place.  He noted  that  the                                                               
University of Alaska's  research vessel is being  deployed to the                                                               
area with  extensive ability to  monitor and its  research should                                                               
make helpful contributions.                                                                                                     
MR. CULVER  said that it  would be the job  of the task  force to                                                               
bring  in expert  panelists though  the scientific  experts would                                                               
not necessarily be on the task force.                                                                                           
3:44:09 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  recognized Representative  Austerman as  joining the                                                               
MS. HESS said the task force  has a narrow mission: to have input                                                               
into the formation  of the federal commission  which will oversee                                                               
Arctic  Ocean and  northern waters  development.  The task  force                                                               
will be  made up of  a small number  of people working  on making                                                               
sure  the state  has an  active role  in the  federal commission.                                                               
Later, a  long standing commission  dealing with  northern waters                                                               
development is  a likely  recommendation. That  future commission                                                               
might include more interested parties.                                                                                          
CHAIR  OLSON asked  if  Ms. Hess  was talking  about  a state  or                                                               
federal commission.                                                                                                             
MS.  HESS  replied that  conceivably  there  could be  a  federal                                                               
commission and a recommendation for a state commission as well.                                                                 
SENATOR THOMAS said  he does not see a narrowly  defined goal for                                                               
the task force in the language of SCR 17.                                                                                       
MS. HENSLEY  replied the duties of  the task force are  listed on                                                               
page 3,  line 11 of  SCR 17  and include: "assess  and facilitate                                                               
the creation of  a state and federal commission".  The task force                                                               
would  consider the  feasibility and  need for  creating a  state                                                               
commission  to look  at the  changing northern  waters. The  task                                                               
force  will  visit   four  communities  and  ask   what  kind  of                                                               
commission people  would like to see  and how the state  can best                                                               
participate. She noted that the  mayors of Nome, Northwest Arctic                                                               
Borough and  North Slope Borough  would be  on the task  force so                                                               
that their voices will be included.                                                                                             
The  task   force  will  present   its  recommendations   to  the                                                               
Legislature  in  January  2012,   such  as  possibly  creating  a                                                               
[standing] commission.  The task  force is a  fact-finding entity                                                               
to get the ball rolling.                                                                                                        
3:48:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THOMAS asked  if the task force's main goal  is to create                                                               
two commissions:  one state  and one  federal. He  commented that                                                               
the members of the task force seemed carefully considered.                                                                      
MS. HENSLEY replied that the idea of  SCR 17 is to have one state                                                               
and federal  commission. The  task force  will hold  hearings and                                                               
bring  any  number of  recommendations  to  the Legislature.  The                                                               
state  waters are  only  out to  mile three  and  beyond that  is                                                               
federal. A federal state commission would be best.                                                                              
SENATOR THOMAS clarified  that Ms. Hensley means  a joint federal                                                               
state commission.                                                                                                               
MS. HENSLEY replied yes.                                                                                                        
CHAIR OLSON asked about the plans for a deep water port.                                                                        
MS. HESS  said the  Coast Guard is  currently studying  where the                                                               
best point for a deep water port would be.                                                                                      
CHAIR OLSON asked about customs and foreign security.                                                                           
3:51:06 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  HESS replied  that the  federal government  is looking  into                                                               
national security issues.                                                                                                       
CHAIR OLSON asked  if Canada has provincial  participation in the                                                               
Arctic issues.                                                                                                                  
MS.  HENSLEY replied  that Canada  is very  active in  the arctic                                                               
region; there  are two current conflicts  about territory between                                                               
the  US  and Canada  and  Denmark  and  Canada. Canada  has  been                                                               
forthright  in  making  territorial  claims.  Last  week,  Canada                                                               
hosted a meeting with six of  the eight arctic nations. Russia is                                                               
active  in these  conversations  and  sent a  flag  to the  outer                                                               
continental  shelf. The  federal  government  deals with  foreign                                                               
relations but Alaska should have a say.                                                                                         
CHAIR OLSON said the international power is concerning.                                                                         
MR.   CULVER  said   testifiers  will   be  able   to  speak   to                                                               
collaboration  in other  nations. He  also pointed  out that  ten                                                               
percent  of  the Legislature  is  involved  in this  legislation,                                                               
including Representative Foster who was not named earlier.                                                                      
3:54:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON asked what issues will be addressed in 2012.                                                                        
MS.  HESS   replied  that  the   prime  goal  is  to   present  a                                                               
recommendation on how the state  would participate in the federal                                                               
commission  that the  federal government  is already  working on.                                                               
Further  recommendations will  address  how  the Legislature  can                                                               
actively participate in northern waters issues.                                                                                 
SENATOR MENARD  asked what other  arctic nation's  progress could                                                               
be mirrored.                                                                                                                    
MS. HENSLEY replied that she  appreciates Greenland's system. The                                                               
local  government, a  territory  of Denmark,  is  very active  in                                                               
asserting its  self-determination in relation to  northern waters                                                               
and  development. The  local government  has  taken advantage  of                                                               
opportunities and a  lot of communication is  happening. The task                                                               
force in SCR 17 is a communication mechanism.                                                                                   
SENATOR MENARD  said it  can be useful  to mirror  another nation                                                               
who is doing a good job.                                                                                                        
3:57:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   AUSTERMAN  said   creating  a   task  force   is                                                               
important.  He  referred  to  the  Wrangell  Islands  and  former                                                               
Senator  Taylor's  involvement  in   making  sure  the  U.S.  was                                                               
protecting itself.  Russia, China and others  are rapidly working                                                               
on  developing  their arctic  fisheries.  Alaska  is behind.  The                                                               
federal government is moving forward,  the Coast Guard is working                                                               
on  their method  to patrol  the area.  What happens  outside the                                                               
three mile  limit, but  impacts Alaska, is  just as  important as                                                               
what  happens within  the  three mile  limit.  The North  Pacific                                                               
Fishery  Management  Council  (NPFMC),  set  up  by  the  federal                                                               
government to manage fisheries outside  of three miles, is a good                                                               
model except  that the  Alaska Legislature has  no say  in policy                                                               
decisions that affect Alaska.                                                                                                   
4:01:05 PM                                                                                                                    
The Legislature  has can  put this task  force together  and have                                                               
input into how a commission is formalized.                                                                                      
SENATOR  FRENCH  commented  that   the  NPFMC  has  fairly  clear                                                               
jurisdiction over the entity it  is governing. He wonders how the                                                               
task  force will  integrate its  jurisdiction  over state  issues                                                               
with respect to a global issue.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  AUSTERMAN  replied that  only  a  few people  are                                                               
discussing whether Alaska  should be involved and  how. The state                                                               
is not at  the table. How much  push to have, and  where, will be                                                               
part of the task force's future recommendation.                                                                                 
4:03:54 PM                                                                                                                    
TOM  OKLEASIK,  planning   director,  Northwest  Arctic  Borough,                                                               
Kotzebue, said  the borough supports  SCR 17. The arctic  is home                                                               
to the Inupiat people with  interrelationships across regions and                                                               
countries and  a close connection  to the  environment. Satellite                                                               
photos show significant ice free  areas, especially off the North                                                               
Slope coast where  ice receded the furthest  in recorded history.                                                               
This  created an  open passageway  across the  Northwest Passage.                                                               
Each  summer  is  different  but  the  climate  is  changing.  He                                                               
recognizes  the  global  economic  interest in  the  arctic  from                                                               
exploration to  exploitation of natural  resources both  on shore                                                               
and  off shore.  State and  federal policy  and permit  decisions                                                               
need  to be  cautionary.  Any  development needs  to  be done  in                                                               
partnership with  Inuit across the  arctic. The arctic is  one of                                                               
the last pristine environments on the globe.                                                                                    
4:06:34 PM                                                                                                                    
In addition to the membership outlined  in SCR 17, the task force                                                               
should  also include  the Eskimo  Walrus  Commission, the  Alaska                                                               
Eskimo Whaling  Commission, the Nanuuq  Commission and  the Inuit                                                               
Circumpolar  Conference of  Alaska and  include knowledge  of the                                                               
existing resources  that have been  used for many  generations. A                                                               
joint  strategic  planning  session  with  the  Northwest  Arctic                                                               
Borough and North  Slope Borough found that  high use subsistence                                                               
areas should  be mapped,  particularly in  coastal areas,  and be                                                               
considered by the task force.  Both boroughs feel that their cash                                                               
economy and  subsistence economies need  a boost, not one  or the                                                               
other. Ports are  needed in Barrow, Kotzebue and Nome  to keep up                                                               
with  a   changing  arctic.  How   these  areas  can   be  energy                                                               
independent, and  can contribute to  U.S. energy needs  should be                                                               
considered as  well as wildlife  protection. Alaska and  the U.S.                                                               
have a lack of planning for the arctic.                                                                                         
4:09:21 PM                                                                                                                    
DENISE MICHELS,  Mayor of Nome,  testified in support of  SCR 17.                                                               
Arctic shipping and  vessel traffic in the Bering  Sea and Norton                                                               
Sound are  increasing. In 1990,  Nome's port had 34  dockings. In                                                               
2009, the port  had 301 dockings. Three vessels in  2008 and four                                                               
in  2009  stopped  in  Nome  after  successfully  completing  the                                                               
Northwest  Passage. Nome  has been  working  with Kawarek,  Inuit                                                               
Circumpolar  Conference,  the  Arctic  Research  Commission,  the                                                               
University of  Alaska - Fairbanks, the  governor's climate change                                                               
subcabinet, the Arctic Council,  Institute of the North, Alaska's                                                               
congressional  delegation, the  Coast  Guard, the  Army Corps  of                                                               
Engineers  and  NOAA on  emerging  arctic  issues. Nome  provides                                                               
information  on opportunities  and concerns,  scientific studies,                                                               
infrastructure needs, environmental  responses, search and rescue                                                               
and national  security. Nome follows  the White House  Council on                                                               
Environmental Quality  Ocean Policy task force,  which is similar                                                               
to  the  task   force  proposed  by  SCR  17,   and  is  creating                                                               
comprehensive,  integrated, ecosystem-based  marine planning  and                                                               
management.  Three studies  on ports  and  harbors are  currently                                                               
underway. The  city of Nome  needs to  be at the  table regarding                                                               
laws and  regulations that national and  international bodies are                                                               
considering because they affect Nome directly.                                                                                  
4:12:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON  asked Ms.  Michels for a  projection of  dockings in                                                               
Nome over the next 20 years.                                                                                                    
MS. MICHELS replied that this  needs to be studied. She commented                                                               
that the  ocean is open longer  each year; barges have  docked in                                                               
November for the last couple of  years, which was unheard of just                                                               
ten years ago.                                                                                                                  
CHAIR  OLSON  if  the  facilities   at  Nome  would  have  to  be                                                               
significantly increased to handle the increased traffic.                                                                        
MS. MICHELS replied yes. The current  draft is minus 22 and large                                                               
vessels require at least minus 50.                                                                                              
ANDREI  JACOBS, Alaska  House  New York  (AHNY)  referred to  the                                                               
earlier statement  that over 30  groups are tackling  the subject                                                               
of Northern waters  development and noted that AHNY  has a unique                                                               
ability to  connect Alaska with  decision makers in New  York and                                                               
Washington  DC.  AHNY  has had  several  events  associated  with                                                               
Northern waters  discussions including  two receptions  hosted by                                                               
AHNY and  the Council on  Foreign Relations (CFR) to  educate the                                                               
public and media.                                                                                                               
4:16:23 PM                                                                                                                    
The Norwegian Consulate General  expressed interest in increasing                                                               
communication with Alaska. AKHY is  a reasonable place to convene                                                               
thinkers, media and industry.                                                                                                   
BILL NOLL, representing  himself, Anchorage, said he  is a former                                                               
mayor of  Seward, former Commissioner of  Commerce, Community and                                                               
Economic Development (CCED) and  the founding president of Alaska                                                               
Sea Life  Center. He fully  endorsed SCR 17  as a strong  move in                                                               
the right direction. He attended the  March 1st CFR event at AHNY                                                               
where the  Consulate General  of Norway  expressed the  desire to                                                               
talk  with  Alaska about  receding  sea  ice. Relationships  with                                                               
Japan and Russia would also be possible and beneficial.                                                                         
4:20:29 PM                                                                                                                    
He felt  the model  of the NPFMC  was a good  one as  it mandated                                                               
federal  and   state  coordination.  NPFMC  has   a  science  and                                                               
statistics component  which makes recommendations to  the council                                                               
at  large.  He   likes  NPFMC's  model  of   the  advisory  panel                                                               
collecting   information   and    approaching   tangled   issues.                                                               
Consideration of  a commission  on northern  waters is  at square                                                               
one and Alaska can have a say in how it is formed.                                                                              
4:23:46 PM                                                                                                                    
Andy  Mack, special  assistant to  the mayor  of the  North Slope                                                               
Borough, said the  borough supports SCR 17.  Collaboration at the                                                               
federal level is going on  around climate change, its impacts and                                                               
engaging local communities. The  Bush administration issued a new                                                               
arctic policy  in January  of 2009  and the  Obama administration                                                               
started  an  ocean  policy  task  force.  The  effects  of  these                                                               
policies and discussions  have been and will  continue to trickle                                                               
down through  federal departments  and agencies. Alaska  needs to                                                               
stand  up  and  be  part  of  this  because  policies  are  being                                                               
formulated now, without Alaska's input.                                                                                         
4:26:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR OLSON closed public testimony.                                                                                            
SENATOR  MENARD  moved  to  report SCR  17  from  committee  with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
being no objection, the motion carried.                                                                                         

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