Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

02/02/2018 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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Audio Topic
03:30:11 PM Start
03:30:41 PM Overview: Alaska's State Managed Game Refuges, Sanctuaries & Critical Habitat Areas
03:57:57 PM HB130
04:26:37 PM SB158
05:05:11 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 130 GAME REFUGE/CRIT HABITAT AREA BOUNDARIES TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
*+ SB 158 OIL/HAZARDOUS SUB.:CLEANUP/REIMBURSEMENT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
-- Agenda Change Below --
+ Overview: Alaska’s State Managed Game Refuges TELECONFERENCED
Sanctuaries & Critical Habitat Areas
- Department of Fish & Game:
Mr. Bruce Dale, Director, Division of Wildlife
Conservation
Mrs. Morgan Foss, Special Assistant to the
Commissioner
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
        SB 158-OIL/HAZARDOUS SUB.:CLEANUP/REIMBURSEMENT                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:26:37 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  announced consideration of  SB 158. She  said when                                                               
homeowners discover  an oil  spill on  their property,  usually a                                                               
heating  oil tank  that spills,  the Department  of Environmental                                                               
Conservation (DEC) has the authority  and is tasked with managing                                                               
that  spill. Current  law  requires the  department  to pass  its                                                               
clean-up  costs  to  the   homeowners  without  exceptions.  This                                                               
discourages  property owners  from  reporting the  spills in  the                                                               
first place.  SB 158  aims to  make it  easier for  homeowners to                                                               
come forward,  spills to  be identified and  cleaned up,  and the                                                               
department to reward those who promptly report a spill.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:27:14 PM                                                                                                                    
KRISTIN  RYAN,   Director,  Division  of  Spill   Prevention  and                                                               
Response (SPAR), Department  of Environmental Conservation (DEC),                                                               
said  that people  are rarely  equipped to  address a  release on                                                               
their  property. Homeowners  are  usually unequipped  technically                                                               
and financially  to know what  to do and insurance  companies are                                                               
unwilling to cover  the costs that can go from  $6,000 to $80,000                                                               
for a  full tank.  Home owners are  stuck, and it  can be  a huge                                                               
hardship.  Knowing that  inhibits people  from contacting  DEC if                                                               
they know  they can't afford  to ask for  help. DEC's goal  is to                                                               
help  them  with  their  problem  and  reduce  the  environmental                                                               
contamination. They  can provide  that technical service  now but                                                               
must bill  the property owner  for it. SB  158 will allow  DEC to                                                               
waive their  billing. The revenue  generated by cost  recovery in                                                               
these situations is minimal and  not worth the cost of homeowners                                                               
not notifying them.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN said  this problem is more common  in Fairbanks, Juneau,                                                               
and  rural  communities because  oil  is  used for  home  heating                                                               
primarily.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
4:30:29 PM                                                                                                                    
She  reviewed  the steps  in  a  home  heating spill,  which  are                                                               
controlling  the source,  recovering the  free product  before it                                                               
seeps into the ground, and removing contaminated soil.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN  explained that usually  the leak is discovered  after a                                                               
tank has  been filled,  so not  only does  the homeowner  have to                                                               
deal with the spill, they have to  pay for all the fuel they just                                                               
bought. If  it's winter they must  get a mobile storage  tank, so                                                               
they can  stay warm. It  can be overwhelming. Then  adding insult                                                               
to injury, they get  a bill from DEC when all DEC  wants to do is                                                               
help them.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She  said DEC  thought  about proposing  standards  to limit  who                                                               
would get  this free service,  but the people it  usually happens                                                               
to don't generate  much revenue anyhow, and they  have found that                                                               
the cost of getting paid isn't  worth the time it takes. Plus, it                                                               
has the consequence of inhibiting compliance.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL said  SB 158 is a two-page bill  and the content is                                                               
actually in section  (e) and asked her to  talk through criteria,                                                               
rationale and implications.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:32:46 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. RYAN  said they spent  quite a bit  of time trying  to figure                                                               
out  how to  craft this  bill to  help the  people they  are most                                                               
wanting to help  and decided on a limitation of  four units since                                                               
those are a  small housing complex that are  relatively common in                                                               
Alaska  and  a large  building  would  be  more of  a  commercial                                                               
operation.  That  is  why  language   is  restricted  to  piping,                                                               
tankage, and equipment used to generate  power for the home - not                                                               
a  commercial operation.  They tried  to capture  the residential                                                               
need.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The department wants the home  owners to take measures to contain                                                               
a release as soon  as possible - a bucket to  catch the leak, for                                                               
instance  - and  address the  problem with  prevention and  early                                                               
reporting.  DEC needs  the cooperation  of the  home owner,  too.                                                               
Sometimes they are  refused access, because the  owner knows they                                                               
will  get billed.  The  sooner  DEC can  respond  the better  the                                                               
outcome will  be and it's  critical to  not wait three  months to                                                               
call.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
4:34:59 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked if language-  single family homes - on                                                               
page 2, line 6, applies to trailers.  He has a lot of trailers in                                                               
his district to which, "This happens all the time."                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN answered yes.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said  that language on page 2,  line 2, says                                                               
the department "may" waive a portion  of those costs and asked if                                                               
that is totally discretionary.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN  answered  that  their process  for  cost  recovery  is                                                               
through an  automated timekeeping  billing system to  which staff                                                               
charges their  time to  certain codes.  The cost  recovery option                                                               
would be turned  off in the situations that  meet these criteria.                                                               
So, there is no discretion.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI asked  if  there  is a  reason  to not  use                                                               
"shall waive" instead of "may  waive." The same question for "all                                                               
or a portion:" how would that be decided?                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  RYAN answered  they wanted  some flexibility  for unforeseen                                                               
situations  and  she prefers  to  keep  the flexibility,  because                                                               
another bill  with a  capital appropriation  would allow  them to                                                               
also  provide  financial  resources   to  home  owners  who  meet                                                               
hardship  criteria (that  is already  in regulation)  to do  some                                                               
clean up. In one home it  might be monitoring vapor that might be                                                               
going  into a  child's  room  and another  home  might need  more                                                               
extreme measures.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  asked  if   this  should  be  needs-based,                                                               
because  a millionaire  can  afford  it and  if  there should  be                                                               
requirements  for a  homeowner to  go  through their  homeowner's                                                               
policy  or file  a negligence  case  against the  prior owner  or                                                               
something like that.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
4:39:16 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  RYAN  replied  that  current  language  inherently  captures                                                               
needs-based homeowners  and repeated  that they are  only looking                                                               
to provide this to small home owners not commercial operators.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN  said a lot  of costs  are associated with  these events                                                               
and  she  assumed  a  homeowner  would  be  contacting  insurance                                                               
companies and the responsible party for the release already.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
She said  a lot  of things are  actually discovered  during sales                                                               
transactions  and that  is when  previous owners  can be  pursued                                                               
through  court mechanisms.  This  proposal in  no  way hampers  a                                                               
homeowner from  doing that.  They have  found that  no homeowners                                                               
insurance  covers  the  costs associated  with  this  unless  the                                                               
contamination leaves  their property  and impacts  other people's                                                               
property.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI  said  language  on  page  2,  lines  8-10,                                                               
requires a written  finding that the person did  not willfully or                                                               
negligently fail  to comply  with spill  prevention and  he could                                                               
envision  someone who  had  a  spill and  sells  his property  to                                                               
someone else for  a dollar and then the state  picks up the cost,                                                               
because,  then,  technically the  person  who  owns the  property                                                               
isn't negligent; it's the person before them.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN said  that reminded  her of  their other  bill, SB  64,                                                               
which is a uniform criminal covenants  act, so that there is full                                                               
disclosure  when  contaminated  property  is  transferred.  If  a                                                               
purchaser  receives contaminated  property and  they didn't  know                                                               
it,  they  would  pursue that  individual  through  the  judicial                                                               
system.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
4:42:22 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  VON  IMHOF  asked  if  everyone  will  automatically  be                                                               
granted the  waiver initially, at  least for a  certain threshold                                                               
amount.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN answered  yes; their  billing will  stop automatically.                                                               
Staff won't even know when bills are going out.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:43:32 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR VON IMHOF noted that  this bill is retroactive to January                                                               
1, 2018, and a  DEC document says in 2017 there  were 50 of these                                                               
types of  spills, but there  are currently 150 active  sites that                                                               
would be eligible. So, she wanted  to know if they are going back                                                               
earlier or if these are ongoing sites for the last couple years.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN replied  they have  been ongoing  and that  these sites                                                               
usually  take  quite a  long  time  to  resolve. The  sites  that                                                               
happened several years will not get reimbursed.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR VON  IMHOF said but  starting from  now they will  not be                                                               
charged.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN said that was correct.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  VON IMHOF  said  the fiscal  note  says the  regulations                                                               
won't be written until 2020 and asked why so long from now.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN  replied that they will  be written as soon  as the bill                                                               
becomes law if it becomes law.  They needed a window of time, but                                                               
it won't take that long.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL noted that regulations  will be adopted by 2020 and                                                               
the process  takes a  while because of  public comment  once they                                                               
are written.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
4:45:25 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR MEYER recalled  that their operating budget  is small and                                                               
asked if they can absorb a $60,000 reduction.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN  replied  the  way  their  budget  works,  the  revenue                                                               
collected  through cost  recovery  goes into  the  fund, and  the                                                               
legislature  allocates a  certain percentage  of that  fund every                                                               
year  for the  division's operations.  It will  not impact  their                                                               
annual operating  budget, but it  will reduce what goes  into the                                                               
overall account they draw from over the years.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MEYER said  he may  be thinking  more on  the commercial                                                               
side of things, but typically  whoever caused the spill should be                                                               
paying the  cost of  cleanup. It  could be  a half-million-dollar                                                               
home  or a  hundred-thousand-dollar  home. "We  want  them to  be                                                               
responsible homeowners and take care  of their heating oil tanks,                                                               
etc." He asked if the bill  is taking some of that responsibility                                                               
away from homeowners by offering this program.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN didn't  agree and  said homeowners  are usually  caught                                                               
off-guard when  this occurs. A  lot of times  it is out  of their                                                               
control; if  it's an underground  storage tank they may  not have                                                               
even been  aware of  it. They  are still taking  the bulk  of the                                                               
burden on by  cleaning up the spill. Helping them  figure out how                                                               
to do that is a minimal "give" from the department.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR MEYER asked how much a typical clean-up costs.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN  replied the  lowest  she  has  seen  is $6,000  for  a                                                               
cleanup, but it can get up to over $80,000.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  MEYER asked  if it  cost  $80,000 would  DEC share  that                                                               
responsibility with the homeowner.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN replied  that the  homeowner still  has to  pay all  of                                                               
that.  This bill  would  say that  DEC doesn't  have  to ask  the                                                               
homeowner  to reimburse  it  for  their time  to  just help  them                                                               
figure  it out.  Her  part of  that $80,000  might  be $2,000  or                                                               
$4,000 of staff time helping them respond.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
She said  that several  years ago the  legislature passed  a bill                                                               
adding  a tax  for  refined  fuels and  she  feels  they are  now                                                               
contributing to pay their costs when they purchase that fuel.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
4:49:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  MEYER  said  whenever   the  legislature  starts  a  new                                                               
constituency, it tends to grow, and  asked if this would apply to                                                               
septic tanks  or water-well contamination.  Does DEC  garnish the                                                               
Permanent Fund dividend if people can't pay?                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN answered  no. The department doesn't  bill for providing                                                               
technical assistance for other things  like septic tanks and well                                                               
contamination. SPAR  is the only  division that charges  for cost                                                               
recovery; all  other divisions in  the department don't  bill for                                                               
providing technical assistance.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:51:19 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP  asked of the  60 annual releases were  any caused                                                               
by the fuel carrier.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN said she didn't know,  but that is a potential scenario.                                                               
She  added that  they probably  don't  know about  30 percent  of                                                               
releases.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BISHOP asked if they trying to encourage more reporting.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN answered yes.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BISHOP said  so the  department can  use its  mitigation                                                               
expertise with the homeowner to properly clean up the oil.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN said yes. She gave  him credit for asking the department                                                               
to focus  more on prevention  when they talked about  the refined                                                               
fuel tax bill.  This is one thing they think  would help mitigate                                                               
the effects when spills occur for these homeowners.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
She said they would like to  adopt standards for home heating oil                                                               
tanks,  but  it  is  harder   than  anticipated  because  of  the                                                               
variation  in our  climates and  communities. However,  she would                                                               
still like  to adopt some  siting standards for home  heating oil                                                               
tanks, so  that banks  can use that  for home  inspections. Right                                                               
now, one can get an inspection  for a drinking water system and a                                                               
waste water  system, but  there is no  equivalent in  the heating                                                               
oil tank world.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
4:54:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR VON  IMHOF asked if a  homeowner calls DEC about  a leak,                                                               
and  decides it's  way too  costly  to do  it, does  she have  an                                                               
obligation to report them to some authority.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  RYAN replied  it varies  a  lot. If  there is  a serious  or                                                               
imminent threat to the environment  they are obligated by statute                                                               
to fix it, but they use all  their powers to get the homeowner to                                                               
at  least  stop the  release  and  minimize  the impacts  to  the                                                               
environment. If they  cannot, which is not very  often, SPAR will                                                               
step in  to do it  using the  Response Account which  is separate                                                               
from the  prevention account. The  department's obligation  is to                                                               
recover its costs, so they will  pursue for cost recovery if they                                                               
know the homeowner has the resources.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  GIESSEL  said  the  fiscal note  is  a  negative  $60,000,                                                               
whereas another bill in another  committee proposes to raise fees                                                               
on  industrial spills  by another  $75,000.  She asked  if it  is                                                               
coincidental that it would fill this gap.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. RYAN answered yes. The other bill  is not about fees; it is a                                                               
penalty for non-compliance.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
4:57:17 PM                                                                                                                    
FABBIENNE PETER  CONTESSE, representing herself,  Juneau, Alaska,                                                               
supported  SB  158.  She  related   a  personal  story  about  an                                                               
underground oil tank leak at  her home in Juneau. She immediately                                                               
called DEC and staff came out  with the information on what to do                                                               
in  order  to  move  forward. After  mitigating  the  tank,  they                                                               
started cleanup spending tens of  thousands of dollars as well as                                                               
several  thousand   dollars  on  soil  testing.   None  of  these                                                               
expenditures are covered by homeowner's  insurance. In 2017, they                                                               
started to  receive bills from  DEC for reviewing their  case and                                                               
every time they  responded to a DEC inquiry or  asked for clarity                                                               
on any  guidance they were given,  they received a bill  for that                                                               
contact.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CONTESSE   said  she   understands  the   state's  financial                                                               
situation, but  the current  statute discourages  homeowners from                                                               
reaching out  to DEC.  Regarding Senator  Wielechowski's comments                                                               
about  needs  based,  she  personally  is  in  a  very  fortunate                                                               
situation and can  afford to spend thousands of  dollars to clean                                                               
up  this oil  spill,  but being  billed by  DEC  every time  they                                                               
looked  at  her case  kept  her  from  reaching  out to  get  the                                                               
guidance she needed and to work collaboratively.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
She said homeowners  already pay a surcharge on  heating fuel for                                                               
this fund  and really believe in  what DEC does. The  people they                                                               
have worked  with have been  "top notch." Everyone's goal  is the                                                               
same: to make sure that the environment is cleaned up.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
5:01:43 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  STEDMAN asked  how  many gallons  were  involved in  her                                                               
spill.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. CONTESSE replied that they  had a 1200-gallon underground oil                                                               
tank and  the house was built  in 1981. She didn't  know how many                                                               
gallons  were spilled,  maybe several  hundred.  Her property  is                                                               
large and steep, and the seepage was moving downhill.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
5:02:37 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  WIELECHOWSKI said  he appreciated  her testimony  and he                                                               
didn't realize  DEC was charging  for making calls;  that doesn't                                                               
seem  right. He  thought it  might  be related  to how  "response                                                               
costs" on page  2, line 2, was defined. He  thought DEC was doing                                                               
the actual cleanup.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  CONTESSE  responded that  DEC  came  out  to the  house  and                                                               
advised  on the  cleanup,  which was  basically slogging  through                                                               
their property with  oil absorbent boom and pads.  They also came                                                               
out to  the house  and advised  them on where  to dig  test holes                                                               
after eliminating all  "free product." DEC staff came  out to the                                                               
house  but weren't  doing the  cleanup, and  when they  called or                                                               
when she sent emails,  she was billed for it. But  that is in the                                                               
statute; it  wasn't the individuals  at DEC deciding to  do that.                                                               
That was frustrating for her, but also of the DEC staff.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
5:04:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL thanked  her and  opened public  testimony. Seeing                                                               
none, she closed it and held SB 158 in committee.                                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB130 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Fiscal Note-DFG-WC-01-11-18.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Fiscal Note-DFG-HAB-01-11-18.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 ADF&G Hearing Request Letter for Senate Resources Committee.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Additional Documents-Resolution Gustavus City Council.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Additional Documents-Map Special Areas Boundary Changes.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Alaska Waterfowl Association.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Alaskans for Palmer Hay Flats.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Aleutians East Borough.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Friends of Glacier Bay.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Kachemak Bay Conservation Society.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter Kachemak Bay Water Trail.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB130 Supporting Documents-Letter The Nature Conservancy.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
SB158 Transmittal Letter.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 158
SB158 Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 158
SB158 Supporting Document-Fact Sheet 1.25.2018.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 158
SB158 Fiscal Note DEC-SPAR-01-22-18.PDF SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 158
SB158 ver A.PDF SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 158
HB130 Ver A.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
Updated Senate Resources Agenda - 2 - 2 - 2018 .pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130 Supporting Document - Letter of Support - Nina Faust.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB 130 - Supporting Documents - Letter Friends of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge - 2 - 2 - 2018.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB 130 - Supporting Document - Various Support - 2 - 2 - 2018.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB 130 - Supporting Document - ADFG Habitat Permit Denials 2012 -2017.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130
HB 130 - Response from Dept Fish & Game to Questions from Senate Resources Committee - 2 - 9 - 2018.pdf SRES 2/2/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 130