Legislature(2001 - 2002)
03/07/2001 02:10 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 7-REINSTATE WILDERNESS STUDY PROHIBITION Number 1795 CO-CHAIR SCALZI announced the next order of business was CS FOR SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 7(RES), Supporting reinstatement of the United States Department of the Interior directive exempting the United States Bureau of Land Management in Alaska from the mandatory wilderness review process. DARWIN PETERSON, Staff to Senator Torgerson, Alaska State Legislature, spoke on behalf of the sponsor of CSSJR 7(RES). Mr. Peterson described the resolution for the House Resources Standing Committee and read excerpts from the sponsor statement as follows: In 1981, the Secretary of the Interior under President Reagan issued a directive stating that BLM [Bureau of Land Management] land in Alaska may not be considered for wilderness review as required by Section 603 of the Federal Land Planning and Management Act of 1976. The Secretary issued this directive in order to comply with congressional mandates found in ANILCA [the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act]. More specifically, those congressional mandates are Sections 1320 and 1326 of ANILCA, often referred to as the "no more clauses," which exempt Alaska from future federal [wilderness designations and] withdrawals exceeding 5,000 acres. ANILCA Section 1326(b) states that no further studies of federal land in Alaska shall be conducted for the purpose of establishing conservation areas, such as wilderness designations. SJR 7 was introduced in response to a last-minute rescission of this directive by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, as he was leaving office with the Clinton Administration. Secretary Babbitt's rescission is contrary to an Interior Department policy that has been an important tool for management and development in the state of Alaska for almost twenty years. The rescission was done without public comment or consideration of the state of Alaska. And the most disturbing aspect of this rescission is that BLM will be able to manage its roadless land in Alaska as de facto wilderness areas in the expectation that Congress will eventually enact approving legislation. Number 1690 CO-CHAIR SCALZI asked if there were any questions. Hearing none, he stated that the language of the resolution was straightforward and the chair was in support of it. Number 1650 [There was a motion to adopt CSSJR 7(RES), version 22-LS0415\L, for discussion purposes, but it was already before the committee.] REPRESENTATIVE FATE suggested to Mr. Peterson that the title be changed. He explained, "The average person's going to see [the title] and he's going to say, 'What you're doing here is exempting the Bureau of Land Management from the provisions of the Wilderness Act,' which means that they might construe this as meaning that they're really exempt from being under the mandatory regulation as embodied in ANILCA." MR. PETERSON replied that that had been a concern of the Senate Resources Committee when SJR 7 was originally drafted. He noted that one of the changes in the committee substitute was made in an effort to clarify the title. He stated that the words "in Alaska", on page 1, line 2 [in the title of CSSJR 7(RES)], would perhaps alleviate concerns that this [resolution] might exempt BLM nationwide from the Wilderness Act. Number 1545 REPRESENTATIVE McGUIRE moved to report CSSJR 7(RES), version 22- LS0415\L, with the attached zero fiscal note and individual recommendations, out of the House Resources Standing Committee. There being no objections, CSSJR 7(RES) was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.