Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

04/03/2009 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSSB 150(RES) Out of Committee
Moved HJR 21 Out of Committee
                 HJR  7-ENDORSING ANWR LEASING                                                                              
3:41:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  WIELECHOWSKI  announced  the consideration  of  HJR  7.                                                               
[Before  the committee  was CSHJR  7(RES). This  being the  first                                                               
hearing, he stated  that it is his intent to  hear the resolution                                                               
and hold  it until the  next hearing  to provide members  time to                                                               
consider it and provide comments or suggestions.                                                                                
At ease from 3:42 to 3:43.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  CHERISSE   MILLETT,  Alaska   State  Legislature,                                                               
sponsor of  HJR 7,  said this resolution  urges Congress  to open                                                               
the  coastal  plain  of  ANWR  to oil  and  gas  exploration  and                                                               
development. It  is important at  this time to let  Congress know                                                               
that the Legislature  is concerned about the  possible closure of                                                               
ANWR and that  it is important to open development  of all Alaska                                                               
lands for  the benefit  of Alaskans and  the United  States. ANWR                                                               
holds  the largest  reserve for  oil and  gas development  in the                                                               
U.S.  and is  considered  to have  high  potential for  continued                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  highlighted that the resolution  has been                                                               
amended  to include  an  additional  "whereas" clause  addressing                                                               
directional  drilling and  the development  impact area  has been                                                               
reduced to 2,000 acres.                                                                                                         
SENATOR WAGONER said  he knows that industry  has repeatedly said                                                               
that 2,000 acres  is enough area to develop, but  he is skeptical                                                               
that it is enough. "It just kind  of flies in the face of reality                                                               
because it's a small area," he said.                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT replied  at one point it  was 7,000 acres,                                                               
but because of technology advancements  the oil industry has said                                                               
it needs just 1,642 acres. That  was rounded up to 2,000 acres to                                                               
provide leeway.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  WAGONER said  it isn't  the drilling  that takes  space;                                                               
it's the  pipe storage yards  and support services. He  wants the                                                               
committee  to  be  aware  that some  people  might  question  the                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH  thanked Representative Millett for  bringing this                                                               
up. He has supported ANWR drilling  for a long time. He mentioned                                                               
how long  Exxon sat on the  Point Thomson lease and  asked if the                                                               
resolution should include a "duty to develop" clause.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT replied  the  federal leasing  department                                                               
has  said that  their leases  carry an  implied duty  to produce.                                                               
This has never been an issue.                                                                                                   
3:49:31 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked if she  said that the federal government has                                                               
leases similar  to Alaska's leases  where the duty to  produce is                                                               
implied rather than stated.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  answered   yes;  the   federal  leasing                                                               
department  told her  they  never saw  the need  to  put duty  to                                                               
produce  language in  a  lease  because there  had  never been  a                                                               
problem. "They didn't  understand why we would do  that if they'd                                                               
never had  an issue in  all the  leasing they've done  on federal                                                               
lands," she said.                                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH asked  for clarification that she said  that it is                                                               
not explicit  in the lease,  but it is  implicit that there  is a                                                               
duty to produce. Since the  federal leasing department hasn't had                                                               
a problem, they haven't added the language.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT concurred with the summary.                                                                              
SENATOR FRENCH said  he'd like to see  that documentation because                                                               
some  people  have criticized  the  slow  development on  federal                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  commented that  she found  it interesting                                                               
that federal  leases are handed  back more frequently  than state                                                               
SENATOR STEVENS  asked where the resolution  mentions directional                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT directed attention to page 3, line 10.                                                                   
3:52:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER  recalled that there  was an agreement  years ago                                                               
between Washington  Senator Scoop Johnson and  Alaska Senator Ted                                                               
Stevens  to  continue  to  push   for  oil  exploration  in  ANWR                                                               
regardless of what  might happen in the  Arctic National Wildlife                                                               
Refuge.   He   asked   about   including   a   "whereas"   clause                                                               
acknowledging that point because it's  part of the history of the                                                               
ANWR battle and discussion.                                                                                                     
SENATOR  HUGGINS asked  if she  knows  the top  ten reasons  that                                                               
people oppose opening ANWR.                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  replied some of the  opposition includes:                                                               
environmental concerns,  impacts to wildlife, the  desire to keep                                                               
ANWR unchanged, and concerns about the Gwich'in lifestyle.                                                                      
3:54:40 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRIS  CANNON,  representing  himself   from  Fairbanks  said  he                                                               
opposes HJR  7. He  said he  believes that  the coastal  plain is                                                               
about the last five  percent of land that is not  open to oil and                                                               
gas leasing. He  questions how much is enough and  if this how we                                                               
want  to generate  state revenue.  His perspective  is that  this                                                               
isn't so much an energy issue  as a big non-renewable dollar sign                                                               
for the  state. I'm  testifying because this  is important  to me                                                               
and I hope you can appreciate that, he concluded.                                                                               
SENATOR WAGONER asked where he works.                                                                                           
MR. CANNON replied  he works for the  Gwich'in Steering Committee                                                               
for  eight months  of the  year  and as  a professional  mountain                                                               
guide the other four months.                                                                                                    
SENATOR WAGONER asked how many children he has in school.                                                                       
MR. CANNON replied he has none.                                                                                                 
LUCY  BEECH,  Executive  Director, Gwich'in  Steering  Committee,                                                               
said that  ANWR or  the 1002  Area is known  as the  sacred place                                                               
where life begins  to the Gwich'in people. It is  the calving and                                                               
nursery  ground of  the  Porcupine caribou  herd  upon which  the                                                               
Gwich'in tribe  has depended for  over 20,000 years.  Even during                                                               
famines  they  did not  enter  the  calving and  nursing  grounds                                                               
because  it  is  so  sacred.  Most  tribal  people  believe  that                                                               
spawning,  calving, and  nursery  grounds are  sacred and  humans                                                               
have no business  desecrating them. Alaska Natives  have given up                                                               
so much  to the state, but  things aren't getting better.  "All I                                                               
see is our lives are getting worse," she said.                                                                                  
MS. BEECH pointed out that  the existing development on the North                                                               
Slope has  emitted 41,408 tons of  nitrous oxide and 779  tons of                                                               
sulfur dioxide,  a key  cause of acid  rain. Recently  friends in                                                               
the  Prince  William  Sound  saw  the  20th  anniversary  of  the                                                               
devastating Exxon Valdez  oil spill. How do you fix  such a mess?                                                               
"We're  not willing  to have  a place  we consider  sacred to  be                                                               
gambled with," she said. This place needs to be off limits.                                                                     
4:00:56 PM                                                                                                                    
PAM   MILLER,  Northern   Alaska  Environmental   Center  (NAEC),                                                               
Fairbanks, said she is putting  this issue in context by pointing                                                               
out that  NAEC is excited  about the  bill that just  passed that                                                               
addresses  alternative   energy  resources.  Other   bills  under                                                               
consideration about renewable  energy, weatherization, and energy                                                               
efficiency are  measures that  will make  life better  for people                                                               
and  communities statewide.  NAEC endorses  those efforts  as the                                                               
future of sustainable energy in Alaska.                                                                                         
MS. MILLER highlighted that just  this week the state announced a                                                               
civil  action   against  BP  for  continuing   poor  maintenance,                                                               
negligence, and spills on the  North Slope. The records that were                                                               
provided  by  the state  regarding  the  status of  oversight  of                                                               
pipeline safety and  spill reduction were a far cry  from what is                                                               
included in that civil complaint.  She suggested legislators read                                                               
that before supporting the opening  of this one protected area of                                                               
Alaska. Even the  Department of Natural Resources  admits this is                                                               
the  only area  on  the North  Slope that  is  protected for  its                                                               
habitat value. She added that part  of that civil action was that                                                               
when pipe repairs commenced the  workers were exposed to asbestos                                                               
that was then released into the  air. This is in contradiction to                                                               
the Clean Air Act.                                                                                                              
There has been chronic poor management  of areas that are open to                                                               
oil and gas so it seems fruitless  to go into an area that's been                                                               
protected for  wildlife since 1960. Furthermore,  there are still                                                               
decades of oil to produce on already open state land.                                                                           
MS. MILLER  described as specious  the argument that  2,000 acres                                                               
is  an  adequate footprint  for  development  since the  proposed                                                               
drilling area is scattered over 1.5 million acres.                                                                              
4:04:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CARL  PORTMAN,  Deputy  Director,  Resource  Development  Council                                                               
(RDC),  said he  is testifying  in  support of  HJR 7.  RDC is  a                                                               
statewide  nonprofit  founded  in  1975.  This  membership-funded                                                               
organization  is  comprised  of individuals  and  companies  from                                                               
Alaska  oil  and  gas,  mining,   timber,  tourism,  and  fishing                                                               
industries, as  well as  Native corporations,  local communities,                                                               
organized labor,  and industry support  firms. Its purpose  is to                                                               
link these  diverse interests to  encourage a  strong diversified                                                               
private sector  in Alaska  and expand  the state's  economic base                                                               
through responsible development of natural resources.                                                                           
MR. PORTMAN  said the 1002 area  of ANWR is considered  to be the                                                               
nation's most promising  onshore oil and gas  prospect, and there                                                               
is strong  statewide support for its  environmentally responsible                                                               
development. It  could play  a large role  in the  state's future                                                               
prosperity,  create thousands  of  jobs, and  reduce reliance  on                                                               
foreign  oil.  Even if  all  major  prospects are  developed,  92                                                               
percent  of  ANWR would  remain  closed  to exploration.  If  the                                                               
footprint  is limited  to just  2,000 acres,  that would  be well                                                               
under one percent of the entire Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.                                                                
MR. PORTMAN  posited that  the U.S. must  continue to  pursue new                                                               
oil  and gas  development even  as it  slowly transitions  to new                                                               
energy sources.  Even under the most  optimistic projections, the                                                               
nation will  be dependent on  fossil fuels for nearly  80 percent                                                               
of  its energy  consumption  in  2030. "As  a  result, for  every                                                               
barrel of  oil America refuses  to develop domestically,  it will                                                               
have little  choice but to  import an equal amount  from overseas                                                               
where weaker environmental regulations often apply," he stated.                                                                 
ADRIAN  HERERA, Arctic  Power,  said  this nonprofit,  grassroots                                                               
organization  has for  more than  12 years  worked in  Washington                                                               
D.C.  to open  ANWR.  HJR 7  is crucial  to  this effort  because                                                               
resolutions  from the  Alaska Legislature  weigh heavily  in this                                                               
contentious debate.  A majority of Americans  support opening the                                                               
1002 area  of ANWR  and those  who do  not support  it oftentimes                                                               
change  their  minds  to  the affirmative  once  told  that  most                                                               
Alaskans and the state government support the issue.                                                                            
The  ANWR issue  will continue  to be  contentious in  the future                                                               
partly because  it is  the number  one fundraising  mechanism for                                                               
the environmental lobby,  he said. Most recently  on Capitol Hill                                                               
bills were  introduced in both  bodies to  lock up the  1002 area                                                               
with a  wilderness designation. A  letter that will  be delivered                                                               
to the  White House  is also circulating  around Congress  to put                                                               
off limits the  entire on and off shore Arctic  area to all forms                                                               
of  commercial   development.  This  is  a   threat  to  Alaska's                                                               
sovereignty  over  its  lands.  HJR 7  represents  the  voice  of                                                               
Alaskans and  tells Congress  that they care  and want  the issue                                                               
dealt with responsibly.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI closed public testimony  and held HJR 7 for                                                               
further work.                                                                                                                   

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