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24th Legislature(2005-2006)

Committee Minutes


SENATE RESOURCES
Jan 26, 2005

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	                 SJR  2-ENDORSING ANWR LEASING                                                                              

CHAIR WAGONER announced SJR 2 to be up for consideration.

MS. MARY JACKSON, Staff to Senator Wagoner, said SJR 2 has a
companion bill in the House adding that opening ANWR has been
discussed for many years. She held up a commemorative metal
sculpture indicating support for ANWR opening this year.

4:15:56 PM

MS. DEBBIE MILLER, Fairbanks resident, said she has explored and
written about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and
even helped conduct a wilderness assessment of the 1002 area in
the 1980s. She said it is scenic and the wildlife values are
extraordinary. It is the only area in Alaska that is protected
for its wildlife while there is already a lot of oil development
in the central Arctic region and in the National Petroleum
Reserve Alaska (NPRA). "We have no business going into this
conservation area.... It was not established for oil and gas
development."

4:17:45 PM

MS. MILLER proposed amending line 6 by inserting "or not permit"
after "to permit" further oil and gas exploration.

4:18:43 PM

She also suggested inserting "some" before "residents" of the
North Slope Borough support development on page 1, line 14,
because some do not support development. The entire Gwichen
Nation is against opening up the Arctic Refuge for development.
Nearly half of Alaskans and Americans oppose it. The state
should not promote development on federally protected wildlife
refuges because "They were not set aside for that purpose."
Since 1964, there has been no new oil and gas drilling or
leasing on any wildlife refuge in the country.

4:20:55 PM

On page 2, she urged the committee to delete lines 1 - 4,
because they are not accurate. The estimated 3.2 billion barrels
of economically recoverable oil in the Arctic Refuge would not
significantly reduce our nations future need for imported oil or
increase oil or security.

4:21:46 PM

MS. MILLER suggested deleting "giant" on page 2, line 16,
because the United States Geological Survey (USGS) ruled out the
possibility of any super giant fields in the Arctic Refuge.

4:22:25 PM

Finally, she suggested deleting "2,000 to 7,000 acres" from line
23 saying that Congressman Don Young introduced a bill (HR 39)
that states 200,000 acres would be up for lease. She surmised
that the infrastructure would not be limited to just 2,000 to
7,000 acres and that pipelines would be all over the place.

4:23:54 PM

MR. FRAN MAUER, Fairbanks resident, said he worked for 24 years
as a wildlife biologist on ANWR and opposed SJR 2 or any effort
to open that area to drilling and development. He thinks it is
inappropriate for any state to pursue development that would
jeopardize the integrity of a national conservation area.

4:25:16 PM

He pointed out the inaccuracy in lines 27 through 29 where it
says that oil and gas activities can be conducted safely and
without adversely affecting the environment or wildlife
population saying, "This is largely not true."

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for leasing in
the 1002 area found a strong probability that development would
have major effects on caribou, polar bears, musk ox, wilderness
and subsistence.

4:26:10 PM

MR. MAUER also said that page 2, lines 30 through 32, say the
state will ensure the continued health of Porcupine Caribou herd
and that is not true. Concentrations of calving caribou have
been displaced during the calving season in the Prudhoe Bay
area. Fortunately, those caribou have a broader coastal plain
that accommodates their displacement. The Porcupine herd in the
Arctic Refuge has five times as many caribou using one-fifth as
much area for calving. The consequences of displacement are far
greater.

4:27:33 PM

MS. LUCI BEACH, Executive Director, Gwichen Steering Committee,
opposed SJR 2. She also objected to language on page 2, line 30,
saying that protection of the herd and land is not possible. The
Coastal Plain is known as the Sacred Place Where Life Begins.
She explained that the Central Arctic Caribou herd has a range
of 100 miles from the Beaufort Sea to the foothills of the
Brooks Range, so it has some place to go. The Porcupine Caribou
herd has only a 40-mile range up to the foothills of the Brooks
Range and that's where predators live.

4:30:22 PM

MR. AL ADAMS, former Alaska State Senator, said he represents
Arctic Power that advocates opening ANWR. It would bring jobs to
Alaskans and energy for Americans.

People need to understand as far as the land is
concerned there is about 18.5 million acres of land in
ANWR. We do not want to touch 8 million acres of
wilderness or the 9 million acres of the Refuge. The
only area we're talking about is the 1.5 million acres
that is designated right here for oil and gas
development. You hear things that we're going to go
there and ruin the wilderness or the Refuge. You're
not touching any of those.... Basically, on that 1.5
million acres we will be touching areas 64% less than
Prudhoe Bay is. The footprint will be much smaller;
the technology for oil and gas development has
changed.... We're talking about maybe 2,000 acres in
this particular area.

You know, the oil operations of the North Slope is
probably the most regulated - efficient - and uses the
highest of technology....

We have caribou in the state of Alaska. We have over 1
million caribou. One of the largest western herds is
450,000 animals. The Porcupine herd is 129,000
animals. If you want to talk about polar bears,
there's 2,700 polar bear up in the district - bowheads
- over 9,000 animals up there. So, animals and
wildlife get along with that.

Somebody mentioned Prudhoe Bay. When we finally
finished that in 1979, we only had 3,000 animals
there. In Prudhoe Bay today - caribou - we have
32,000. So, the caribou with oil development is
flourishing.

MR. ADAMS said he understands the Gwichen Nation's concern about
caribou, but in 1984, it leased all of its land - 1.8 million
acres for $1.8 million. "Where was their concern in 1984 for
their caribou and the sacred land? We, the Alaskans, both
Inupiat people and Alaskans, would like to see that opened."

He said that 75% of Alaskans support the opening of ANWR; 78% of
Kaktovik supports it. He point out a small purple area on a map
of the area that indicates private land holdings of about 92,160
acres. He said development would bring money to the general fund
from royalties and bonuses; it will provide jobs in Alaska and
the U.S.

MR. ADAMS offered one amendment - to give the Native Village and
Kaktovik $50,000 a piece for one of the sections on their
property.

4:31:02 PM

CHAIR WAGONER asked if the Gwichen lease was for oil and gas
exploration.

4:35:26 PM

MR. ADAMS replied yes. The consultant at the time was Donald R.
Wright. He offered to show the contract to the committee and
read the names of some people who signed it.

4:36:21 PM

CHAIR WAGONER asked if the Arctic Slope Corporation is precluded
from development of oil or is the oil stranded.

4:36:41 PM

MR. ADAMS replied that under federal law, congressional approval
is needed before anything can be done in that section.

4:37:05 PM

SENATOR SEEKINS asked how close the Gwichens live to the 1002
area.

MR. ADAMS replied that they live approximately 150 miles away
from that particular area.

USGA estimates between 5.7 billion and 16 billion
barrels in that particular section. Remember when we
first estimated Prudhoe Bay? We estimated there would
only be 10 billion barrels coming from Prudhoe Bay and
as of last year we have already shipped through 14
billion. So, we estimate there's going to be a large
amount of oil in that particular section.

4:38:08 PM

SENATOR SEEKINS asked if he is intimating there may be some
economic reason for the Gwichen people to keep the Inupiat lands
closed to oil exploration.

4:38:28 PM

MR.ADAMS replied no; each tribe has a right to its own opinion.

4:39:00 PM

SENATOR SEEKINS moved to pass SJR 2 from committee with
individual recommendations and attached $0 fiscal note. Senators
Stevens, Dyson, Seekins, Stedman and Chair Wagoner voted yea;
and Senator Elton voted nay. SJR 2 moved from committee.