Legislature(2003 - 2004)
01/28/2004 03:35 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 264-REPEAL PIPELINE PREAPPLICATION DEADLINE CHAIR SCOTT OGAN announced SB 264 to be up for consideration. MS. MARTY RUTHERFORD, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said the purpose of this bill is to repeal the sunset date in AS 38.35.145(c), the statute that allows DNR to enter into agreements with perspective lessees to recover the cost for preliminary work on a pipeline right-of-way lease application. That provision ended on December 31, 2003. She explained: As a little background, Mr. Chairman, pipeline right- of-way lease applicants must submit very detailed applications that require a lot of engineering and design work. To do that, applicants expend a great deal of resources - just to complete that application. The applicants have found and told us that it's very useful to have agencies involved in the pre- application so that they are aware of both permitting issues at an early stage and detailed information that we can provide them prior to getting their application complete. We've also found that agency participation during the pre-application phase expedites the review and approval of the project ultimately. This ability to enter into reimbursement agreements has been used most recently for pre-application work on the Pt. Thompson project before that project was delayed and the Kenai Kachemak pipeline extension. It might be useful for you to hear some of the types of assistance provided at this stage. They include such things as identification and explanation of applicable state law and the regulatory requirements as well as an explanation of the regulatory process, identification of land ownership, not only state, but federal and private. That affects who an applicant must deal with to complete a pipeline right-of-way lease. Another thing would be an identification of any restrictions that exist on affected state lands which might interfere with our authorizing a right-of-way lease or hinder an applicant's ability to begin construction. These things might include a third-party interest such as a utility right-of-way or outside influences such as archeological sights. We also identify potential environmental issues such as difficult stream crossings. Our assistance could include reaching out to other affected parties. We have done that in the past to help an applicant with entities such as utilities that do have the right-of- way or other landowners or even competing applicants for the same right-of-way. We help an applicant to understand the other party's interest and to help resolve those conflicts. Our assistance can be with helping an applicant to develop an initial project application and perhaps one of the most important aspects for a large project - our ability to enter into reimbursement agreement for the pre-application work allows us to staff up in a timely fashion. So when an application does come in the door, we can move the project through quickly. MS. RUTHERFORD said the pre-application work is completely applicant initiated. Without this legislation, DNR is not able to work with the applicants until receiving an application. The fiscal impact of passing this is zero, but the impact of not passing it is significant. Without it, they can't enter into a reimbursable service agreement and don't have any general funds available to provide this type of assistance. CHAIR OGAN asked when this bill was originally passed and about the discussion of the sunset date in 2003. MS. RUTHERFORD replied that she thought it was passed in 2000 and she couldn't find out why the sunset date was added. SENATOR SEEKINS moved to pass SB 264 from committee with zero fiscal note and individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.