Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/07/2001 02:10 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                             

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