Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/10/1995 08:17 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 SB 93 - DISPOSAL OF LAND ALONG THE DALTON HIGHWAY                           
                                                                               
 Number 248                                                                    
                                                                               
 SENATOR MIKE MILLER, PRIME SPONSOR, said last session the                     
 legislature passed SB 210 which provided for the reauthorization of           
 existing leases in nodes along the Dalton Highway.  He explained SB
 93 will allow opening up more areas along the highway for                     
 nonresidential disposals.  He added the areas are those primarily             
 where there were pipeline camps.  He stated the areas include the             
 Yukon River Crossing, Coldfoot, Happy Valley, and Franklin Bluffs.            
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER noted there is a proposed amendment.  He said the              
 North Slope Borough had concerns in that they had made some land              
 selections in Franklin Bluffs and Happy Valley.  This amendment               
 makes it clear that SB 93 would not override their land selections.           
 He noted there has been concerns expressed about development along            
 the road.  He stressed the highway is open and people will be                 
 traveling the road.  He felt unless the state starts putting                  
 services along the road, there will be more problems.  He noted the           
 department supports SB 93.                                                    
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN wondered with the potential improvements, will              
 the liability to the state be increased.                                      
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER replied he did not know.  He said SB 93 will help              
 cut down the long stretches of the highway without services.  He              
 hoped that since the highway is open, the state can begin securing            
 federal funds to start improving the road.                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES asked why the state would have more liability           
 on the Dalton Highway than it has on any other roads.                         
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER said the state would not.                                      
                                                                               
 Number 309                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES recalled Senator Miller had talked about                
 development nodes and clarified those nodes are located in                    
 subsection (b) (2).                                                           
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER stated the Senate Resources Committee also made some           
 changes because the bill passed last year had problems in the                 
 language and some of the legal descriptions had to be corrected.              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he was not concerned about the legal               
 descriptions but what the nodes apply to.                                     
                                                                               
 SENATOR MILLER replied Mr. Swanson could answer the question.                 
                                                                               
 Number 342                                                                    
                                                                               
 DEE HOFFMAN, DIRECTOR OF PLANNING, NORTH SLOPE BOROUGH, testified             
 via teleconference and stated the North Slope Borough does have               
 valid land selections on file for all of Happy Valley and Franklin            
 Bluffs, as well as parcels at Deadhorse.  She said the best way to            
 handle any need for development at these nodes would be to convey             
 to the North Slope Borough the lands they have selected.  Then the            
 North Slope Borough would be in a position to exercise maximum                
 local control in the growth and development of these nodes.                   
                                                                               
 MS. HOFFMAN said the state departments and their respected agencies           
 have not assured the (indiscernible) coordinating the group that              
 they will be able to handle the expected traffic on the Dalton                
 Highway this summer.  She noted a couple of newspaper articles, one           
 of which the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities'                
 Commissioner Perkins clearly stated the need for more public                  
 participation in the planning and development of the state's                  
 transportation system.  Another article was in regard to the Bureau           
 of Land Management (BLM) seeking funds to help fund outhouses,                
 trash cans, dump stations and other areas of need.                            
                                                                               
 MS. HOFFMAN said the (indiscernible) industry expects to bring                
 125,000 tourists to Deadhorse this summer and noted that only about           
 12,000 tourists drove the highway in 1994.  She felt it would be in           
 the best interest of the state to convey to the North Slope Borough           
 the lands selected and let the borough work closely in the                    
 development of a comprehensive land use plan, so that facilities              
 and services could be planned and funded appropriately.  She noted            
 the North Slope Borough is currently revising its comprehensive               
 land use plan, which does encompass planning for services and                 
 facilities in conjunction with state and federal agencies along the           
 road within borough boundary districts.                                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA asked what the North Slope Borough's            
 position is on SB 93.                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. HOFFMAN said the North Slope Borough is in support of the                 
 proposed amendment.                                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA asked if the North Slope Borough supports             
 SB 93.                                                                        
                                                                               
 MS. HOFFMAN replied yes.                                                      
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said he can see some real benefit to having the             
 Dalton Highway open and having amenities along it but he can also             
 see some problems.  He wondered if this will be any different than            
 any other highway or improvements to a highway and wondered if any            
 unusual problems are foreseen.                                                
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON said no.  He stressed the road is now open and he is              
 very concerned about providing basic services.  He noted currently            
 there is one gas station halfway up the road.  He pointed out the             
 department is wanting to provide basic amenities, not hotels every            
 six miles.                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA stated her concern regarding SB 93 is the             
 costs to the state.  She felt the costs are going to fall into the            
 hands of emergency medical services, public health issues,                    
 landfills for the disposal of garbage and additional sewage                   
 treatment.                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON said the desire is to get private industry to provide             
 some of these basic services so it is not a burden to the state.              
 He noted that currently the state definitely has that burden.  He             
 is not convinced it will be possible to get private industry to               
 provide all the needed services but at least the department needs             
 the tools to try and do so.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 446                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA clarified SB 93 does not authorize payment            
 for emergency medical services, public health issues, landfills for           
 the disposal of garbage and additional sewage treatment.                      
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON said SB 93 allows DNR to issue a lease to private                 
 industry to provide those services and private industry could                 
 charge the public for doing those things.  He stressed currently              
 the entire burden is on the state and partially on BLM.  He noted             
 the department is looking for one more opportunity to release some            
 of that burden.                                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered what happens now if there is an                  
 accident, someone breaks down or there is a medical emergency.  He            
 asked if it would be feasible to charge a toll to travel the                  
 highway to cover some of the costs involved as it will take years             
 to get private development up there.                                          
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON said the road is open and the state has to deal with              
 it.  He stressed the department is looking for the ability to lease           
 some land to private industry if they desire to provide any of the            
 services needed.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said with the proposed amendment to SB 93,              
 which allows the North Slope Borough to take some of their land               
 entitlements through selecting some of the land along the highway,            
 it seems the borough would be in a very good position to put in the           
 amenities necessary because it is a part of the state they are very           
 familiar with.  She felt SB 93 is a good bill.                                
                                                                               
 Number 510                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked Mr. Swanson if he had read the letter             
 from Yukon Pacific addressed to Speaker Phillips.                             
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON replied he had not.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said Yukon Pacific has all the permits in               
 place to build a gas pipeline.  In their letter, they are asking              
 the legislature to delay action on SB 93 until the issue of whether           
 or not disposing of the land would be unrealistic, in view of their           
 proposed needs for development and building another pipeline, is              
 addressed.  He noted the camps along the highway were put in place            
 to support the construction of the oil pipeline and would be very             
 useful for the staging of the construction of a gas pipeline.  He             
 pointed out Yukon Pacific's concern is that the state may eliminate           
 the camps and then another new set of pads would have to be created           
 for construction of the gas line.                                             
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON stated the concern of Yukon Pacific is very valid.  He            
 said any disposals the DNR does anywhere within the nodes will go             
 through a planning process and would involve Yukon Pacific.                   
                                                                               
 Number 539                                                                    
                                                                               
 RANDY MAYO, CHIEF, STEVENS VILLAGE COUNCIL, testified via                     
 teleconference and stated the village has many concerns.  He noted            
 even before the Dalton Highway was open, there were many problems             
 with vandalism, destruction of private property and the loss of               
 fish and game in a traditional subsistence use area.  He said in              
 the village there is hardly any cash economy except welfare                   
 payments.  He stressed the village opposes SB 93 for several                  
 reasons including cultural, spiritual, and economical.                        
                                                                               
 MR. MAYO felt many bills in the legislature are submitted by                  
 business people who live in urban areas.  He said the village does            
 not see how SB 93 will benefit the local surrounding communities.             
 He stated many existing problems such as law enforcement, trash               
 along the road, etc., have not even been resolved, yet it is                  
 proposed to build up more.  He noted it had been mentioned that the           
 private sector would possibly provide some of these services and he           
 wondered if they will be required to build landfills, etc., up to             
 the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental            
 Protection Agency standards.  He questioned if the costs involved             
 would be too much for the private sector.  He also wondered what              
 Alyeska's position is on SB 93.                                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES recalled that Mr. Mayo spoke of his concerns            
 as they relate to the subsistence lifestyle along the Dalton                  
 Highway but he also mentioned that the only cash available is in              
 the form of welfare payments.  She wondered if SB 93 will help the            
 village corporation get some of the land to put in some sort of               
 services and help provide a source of cash for the people in the              
 village to get them off of welfare.                                           
                                                                               
 Number 604                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. MAYO said he is not on the village corporation board but noted            
 the village does operate a fish camp tour and has a couple of tour            
 boats.  He noted even with those operations, the village has had              
 problems.                                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES thought if the road was in better condition             
 and had better amenities for the driving public, the village would            
 be able to have more tourists at the fish camp.                               
                                                                               
 GEORGE YASKA, DIRECTOR OF WILDLIFE, TANANA CHIEFS CONFERENCE (TCC),           
 testified via teleconference and stated he is not familiar with the           
 amendment discussed earlier.                                                  
                                                                               
 TERESA SAGER, LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, SENATOR MIKE MILLER, said the            
 amendment would clarify that the lands selected by the North Slope            
 Borough, as part of their land entitlement but which have not yet             
 been conveyed, would not be affected by SB 93 once the conveyance             
 occurs.                                                                       
                                                                               
 MR. YASKA said currently TCC supports SB 93.                                  
                                                                               
 TAPE 95-48, SIDE A                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN read the amendment to Mr. Yaska.                            
                                                                               
 MR. YASKA clarified the municipality referred to in the amendment             
 would be in the North Slope Borough.                                          
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN answered probably but not necessarily.                      
                                                                               
 MR. YASKA reiterated TCC supports SB 93 but noted TCC still has               
 concerns about the large number of people going up the Dalton                 
 Highway and the too few services offered.                                     
                                                                               
 Number 058                                                                    
                                                                               
 SARA HANNAN, REPRESENTATIVE, ALASKA ENVIRONMENTAL LOBBY, INC.                 
 (AEL), urged committee members to oppose SB 93.  She said what                
 needs to be considered is long-range economic and fiscal                      
 obligations to the state.  She agreed the Dalton Highway requires             
 additional services to be available and the state has an obligation           
 to provide some services because it is a state-owned highway, open            
 to public access.  She noted the Trans-Alaska Gas Pipeline working            
 committee and the AEL have been talking a lot about the Dalton                
 Highway over the past few years and share many concerns from                  
 different perspectives.                                                       
                                                                               
 MS. HANNAN said the Dalton Highway development corridor was                   
 originally built as an industrial road.  She stressed it still is             
 an industrial road and is not up to the standards of a highway                
 found anywhere else.  She stated the problem with opening the                 
 highway has been that more people use it and the obligation and               
 liability the state has in regard to the highway is increasing.               
 She noted the more services available, the higher the liability the           
 state has to the people who have private property along the                   
 highway.  She pointed out that the various problems in regard to              
 the highway are not adequately being addressed.                               
                                                                               
 MS. HANNAN noted the Anchorage Daily News did an interview with the           
 new commissioner of the Department of Transportation & Public                 
 Facilities and he indicated that currently the Dalton Highway's               
 maintenance plan will not change.  She said ongoing fiscal                    
 obligations to the state accelerate when there is private                     
 development.  She stressed the AEL is not opposed to services being           
 provided along the highway but feels it is premature for the state            
 to dispose of those lands and discuss putting private Alaskans out            
 there, with their resources invested in capital investment, unless            
 the state is able to provide the services a property owner should             
 have.                                                                         
                                                                               
 MS. HANNAN stated in addition to being able to protect private                
 property and enforce the laws the state currently has, the state              
 will have some additional obligations.  When there is someone                 
 living on a remote site and six children live there, the state has            
 a legal obligation to provide education.  She reiterated there is             
 a need to look at the long-range development plan for the Dalton              
 Highway including the long-range use of it by Yukon Pacific, the              
 long-range fiscal obligations of the state to protect the private             
 property currently there, and what will be done with emergency                
 services and troopers.  She stressed the state does not have the              
 money to put more private property holders with private property              
 investment in a remote area when the state cannot protect it.                 
                                                                               
 SAM KITO, LEGISLATIVE LIAISON, DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION &                 
 PUBLIC FACILITIES, said the department feels having amenities along           
 the highway would be in the best interest of the state.                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES clarified that in other areas of the state              
 which have rural highways such as the Dalton Highway, the amenities           
 are usually closed down in the winter so there is not the                     
 likelihood of having to provide additional schools, etc., along the           
 highway.  She said if this land was selected by Native                        
 corporations, schools are already provided in the villages where              
 the children and adults live.                                                 
                                                                               
 MR. KITO stated Coldfoot is a work camp leased to a private entity.           
 He said that work camp is more staffed in the summer than in the              
 winter.  He noted there are no children there requiring schooling             
 in the winter.  He pointed out it is the DNR's intent to dispose              
 land in a similar situation and not create a year-round or                    
 permanent living situation.                                                   
                                                                               
 Number 220                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA asked why there was no fiscal note from the           
 Department of Transportation & Public Facilities.  She noted parts            
 of the Dalton Highway washes out every year.                                  
                                                                               
 MR. KITO stated the department is not anticipating any additional             
 need for maintenance.  He said at this point, the department cannot           
 anticipate what the volume of traffic increase will be because of             
 the full opening.  He explained the department is projecting it can           
 get by with its current level of maintenance and rehabilitation of            
 the roadway.                                                                  
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA asked when the road washes out, who is                
 responsible for putting the road back in place, the state or                  
 Alyeska.                                                                      
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied the road is maintained by the state in agreement             
 with Alyeska Pipeline.                                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES felt if more services are provided along the            
 highway, it follows that there will be more traffic.                          
                                                                               
 MR. KITO said the DNR's contingency is it is not known what the               
 level of services will be and they would like to be able to provide           
 for services if the demand increases on the highway.  He stated the           
 allowing of the disposal of this land does not necessarily mean the           
 land will automatically be leased to private land owners.  He noted           
 there is a BLM plan for the corridor in place and the DNR has been            
 working with the BLM on creating the amenities.                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES clarified the purpose of SB 93 is to improve            
 the amenities along the Dalton Highway.                                       
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied the purpose of SB 93 is to allow for amenities               
 should they become necessary.                                                 
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said a reasonable person would conclude that            
 if the state enters into a program of disposing land for the                  
 purpose of providing amenities along the highway that is what will            
 happen eventually.  He asked if the amenities get built and there             
 is an increase in traffic as a result, would it not follow that               
 there would be a demand to improve the maintenance on the highway.            
                                                                               
 MR. KITO replied there probably will be an increased demand for               
 maintenance and rehabilitation of the highway.  He noted the                  
 department is in the beginning stages of providing for                        
 rehabilitation of the highway from milepost zero up to Coldfoot and           
 beyond that as funding is available through the federal highway               
 administration on the state's highways program.                               
                                                                               
 Number 289                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES stated the Dalton Highway was transferred               
 from Alyeska to the state of Alaska in the early 1980s.  Since that           
 time, the state has had an absolute responsibility to maintain the            
 road.  She said the state has not always done the kind of job it              
 should have and consequently there have been tremendous washouts,             
 the base has blown away, etc.  She pointed out whether or not the             
 state disposes of this land, the work is going to have to be done,            
 because the Dalton Highway is the lifeline to the state's oil                 
 patch.  She felt whether or not there are 100 tourists driving the            
 road is irrelevant.  She noted by doing it through SB 93, the state           
 is able to garner more federal funds to help with the upkeep of the           
 road which is the lifeline of Alaska.  She reiterated the state's             
 responsibility for the road has been there since the early 1980s.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES agreed but felt the responsibility to                   
 maintain the highway is tempered by the state's fiscal abilities              
 and added that maintaining the highway for the purpose of an                  
 industrial road is adequate for the purpose of the lifeline for the           
 state but is not adequate for a tourism resource.  He said if the             
 state is going to improve amenities and take actions resulting in             
 additional people traveling the highway, the state should expect              
 demands to improve the road to a higher standard than what is                 
 required by the truckers and industry.  He pointed out that will              
 cost money.  He thought the suggestion earlier about charging a               
 toll to help with that incremental demand should be considered.               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES noted he is not opposed to providing more               
 amenities and encouraging more traffic but is concerned that the              
 state needs to be more realistic about what the fiscal impacts will           
 be.                                                                           
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a MOTION to AMEND CSSB 93(RES) on page             
 4, after line 12:  Insert a new bill section to read:  "*Sec. 2.              
 AS 19.40.200 is amended by adding a new subsection to read:  (e)              
 Notwithstanding (b) of this section, land described in (b) of this            
 section is not available for disposal if it has been selected by a            
 municipality to satisfy a general grant land entitlement under AS             
 29.65 unless the selection is disapproved by the state in a final             
 decision."  Renumber the following bill section accordingly.                  
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES OBJECTED for discussion purposes.                       
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA said municipalities are concerned about               
 their Native allotment selections.  She wondered how a single                 
 person having a Native allotment would be affected.                           
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON replied there are no Native allotments along the                  
 highway affected by SB 93.  He said the only issue being dealt with           
 are selections made by the North Slope Borough and those will be              
 adjudicated prior to any other activity.                                      
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NICHOLIA clarified there are no other Native                   
 allotment applicants other than the North Slope Borough.                      
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON responded that is correct.                                        
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES wondered if a regional corporation qualifies            
 as a municipality and also asked whether or not there are any                 
 regional corporation claims.                                                  
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON said no.  He noted there is a lot of federal land but             
 SB 93 only affects land the state owns.  He stated if there is a              
 conflicting claim by a village or regional corporation, or Native             
 allotment, that would have a preference over the state selections.            
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN wondered if the amendment affects Yukon                   
 Pacific's ability to set up their pipeline operation.                         
                                                                               
 MR. SWANSON replied no.  He reiterated before the disposal of land,           
 the department has to go through a planning process and Yukon                 
 Pacific would be very much involved.  He noted the department                 
 currently has a task force dealing with all of the land selections            
 up there.                                                                     
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES WITHDREW his objection.                                 
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if there were any other objections.                   
 Hearing none, the MOTION PASSED.                                              
                                                                               
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN announced SB 93 would be heard again on Wednesday           
 and noted HB 258 would be heard on Wednesday.                                 

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