Legislature(2001 - 2002)
2001-07-20 House JournalFull Journal pdf
2001-07-20 House Journal Page 1908 HB 244 The following letter, dated July 5, 2001, was received: "Dear Speaker Porter: Under the authority of art. II, sec. 15, of the Alaska Constitution, I have vetoed the following bill: SENATE CS FOR CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 244(RES) "An Act relating to a grant of state land to the Denali Borough for a railroad and utility corridor and a railroad development project; repealing provisions relating to a grant of a right-of-way of land for a railroad and utility corridor to the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority; and providing for an effective date." The bill requires the transfer of 3,500 acres of state land to the Denali Borough for subsequent lease to Kantishna Holdings, Inc. to provide a railroad and utility corridor for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a railroad. The corridor would run from near Healy to the eastern boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve. The bill requires the borough to lease the land by September 1, 2010, or it will revert to the state. Throughout my term as governor, I have supported the development of increased access to Denali National Park and Preserve. In 1998, I signed House Bill 386 authorizing the Department of Natural Resources to grant state land to the Alaska Industrial Development and 2001-07-20 House Journal Page 1909 Export Authority (AIDEA) for the purpose of financing a project enabling Kantishna Holdings, Inc. to develop a railroad corridor. The 1998 law allowed for public review, consideration of economic feasibility, and allowed the state to impose appropriate conditions. The law also authorized AIDEA to issue up to $28,000,000 in bonds to finance the project. This bill would repeal the authority to analyze and implement a joint private and public project. This year's capital budget includes a $1.65 million appropriation to the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities for planning, reconnaissance, and environmental analysis for a proposed northern access into Denali National Park and Preserve. The planning process will also assure the public's ability to participate in the final decision of whether to construct a road or a railroad, and in the decision of where best to route the project so as to achieve its goals. The goal of this bill -- enhanced access to Denali National Park and Preserve -- may be laudable, but the process presented here is seriously flawed in the following ways: · It violates the public process by disposing of significant state resources without adequate safeguards of the public interest, including opportunity for thorough public hearings and comment. · It violates the competitive bid processes of the state by designating a land lease recipient (Kantishna Holdings, Inc.) and bypassing the legal process for leasing state lands. · It violates and is inconsistent with the Department of Natural Resources land use planning process. · It transfers lands of undeniable state-wide and national interest to a borough which currently lacks adequate authority or capacity to administer transportation services or to conduct land planning and zoning. · It is premature and could be endorsing construction of a railroad to nowhere. The National Park Service has not designated an additional access point into the park. This railroad, if built, could literally end at the park boundary with no real destination. 2001-07-20 House Journal Page 1910 I continue to believe the basic premise of this bill, the development of alternative access to Denali Park, is in the best interests of the state. However, this goal will not be achieved without appropriate planning, public participation, participation by the federal landowner, appropriate financing, and fair competition. I veto this bill to allow that process to proceed, using the money appropriated this year for that purpose. Sincerely, /s/ Tony Knowles Governor"