Legislature(2003 - 2004)

02/21/2003 01:03 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 4-ENDORSING ANWR LEASING                                                                                                  
[Contains   discussion  pertaining   to  HJR   6,  the   companion                                                              
VICE  CHAIR  MASEK announced  that  the  first order  of  business                                                              
would be SENATE  JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 4, Urging  the United States                                                              
Congress  to pass legislation  to  open the coastal  plain  of the                                                              
Arctic  National   Wildlife  Refuge,   Alaska,  to  oil   and  gas                                                              
exploration, development, and production.                                                                                       
Number 0134                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  THOMAS WAGONER,  Alaska State  Legislature, testified  as                                                              
the sponsor  of SJR  4.   Senator Wagoner  informed the  committee                                                              
that the  intent of  SJR 4 is  to urge the  U.S. Congress  to pass                                                              
legislation  to open  the  coastal plain  of  the Arctic  National                                                              
Wildlife Refuge  (ANWR) to oil  and gas exploration,  development,                                                              
and production.   He  pointed out  that this  resolution has  been                                                              
before the legislature  at least five times.  "This  year it looks                                                              
like everything  is in line and  we have a good chance  of passing                                                              
this item both here  and in the United States  Congress," he said.                                                              
He highlighted  that this year  a majority  of the members  of all                                                              
of the  houses of government involved  support the opening  of the                                                              
coastal  plain of  ANWR to  exploration production.   He  reminded                                                              
members  of  Governor  Murkowski's  State  of  the  State  address                                                              
during which he  reaffirmed his belief that [the  state] should do                                                              
all that  it can  to open  up the  coastal plain  of ANWR.   North                                                              
Slope production  has been  in decline  since 1988, and  therefore                                                              
the development  of the  coastal plain of  ANWR will  help provide                                                              
stability  to national  energy demands  while increasing  Alaska's                                                              
revenue stream.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  WAGONER  explained  that   SJR  4  intends  for  the  new                                                              
technology used  at the  Alpine and Northstar  [Units] to  be used                                                              
on the  coastal plain  of ANWR in  order to enhance  environmental                                                              
protection.   The  current area  [of  the coastal  plain of  ANWR]                                                              
under  consideration  represents  approximately  one-half  of  one                                                              
percent of the  coastal plain, out of the  19-million-acre refuge.                                                              
Of the  19-million-acre refuge, 8  million acres has  already been                                                              
designated  as wilderness.   Senator Wagoner  concluded by  urging                                                              
the committee's support of SJR 4.                                                                                               
Number 0348                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  asked   if  there  is  any  difference                                                              
between HJR  6 [which had been  heard in both the  House Resources                                                              
Standing Committee  and House  Special Committee  on Oil  and Gas]                                                              
and SJR 4.                                                                                                                      
SENATOR  WAGONER answered  that  the two  resolutions are  exactly                                                              
the same.                                                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  inquired as to what objections  people might                                                              
have with regard to this resolution.                                                                                            
SENATOR  WAGONER  replied  that   the  main  objections  would  be                                                              
environmental  objections.    There have  also  been  [objections]                                                              
stating  that  there  isn't  enough   oil  [in  ANWR]  to  make  a                                                              
difference.  However,  Senator Wagoner "begged to  differ" because                                                              
every bit  of oil  that can be  produced makes  a difference.   He                                                              
noted that  often there are objections  directed at the  amount of                                                              
acreage involved in the development.                                                                                            
Number 0456                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO  noted that he  supports [SJR 4].   He turned                                                              
to the objections  stating that ANWR  is a drop in the  bucket and                                                              
pointed  out that  [the  coastal plain  of  ANWR] is  good for  20                                                              
years  of   continuous  production.     Therefore,  some   of  the                                                              
objections are easy  to address, although there are  still some in                                                              
the U.S. Senate  who object to opening the coastal  plain of ANWR.                                                              
He asked if these  objections are held because  of objections from                                                              
constituents, or whether there are reasonable objections.                                                                       
SENATOR  WAGONER  referred  to   the  objections  to  opening  the                                                              
coastal plain  of ANWR  as the  "East Coast  mentality."   He said                                                              
that a  million barrels  of [oil]  a day  or whatever is  produced                                                              
isn't a drop in  the bucket.  One of the best ways  to address the                                                              
"drop in  the bucket"  objection is  to ask  what would  happen to                                                              
the  West  Coast  if  Alaska  closed  its  pipeline.    The  total                                                              
production from ANWR  is unknown until exploration  occurs and the                                                              
size of the field is determined.                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF recalled Senator  Wagoner's mention  that the                                                              
coastal plain of  ANWR could produce 1 million barrels  a day.  He                                                              
pointed out  that the U.S. is  purchasing 1 million barrels  a day                                                              
from a man in a  country with which the U.S. is  prepared to go to                                                              
war  now.    "I  wonder  who's   laughing  at  us,"  he  remarked.                                                              
Therefore,   he  questioned   who   could   argue  [against]   the                                                              
development of ANWR.                                                                                                            
SENATOR WAGONER  acknowledged that  there is  a lot of  opposition                                                              
to  the opening  of the  coastal plain  in ANWR,  even in  Alaska.                                                              
Senator  Wagoner pointed  out that  Alaska is  in a fiscal  crisis                                                              
and if not ANWR,  what will the state find to  balance the budget,                                                              
he asked.   Although development in  ANWR will take a  longer time                                                              
coming  on  line, he  reiterated  that  the  state will  need  the                                                              
revenue from the  oil coming from ANWR in the near  future.  "This                                                              
is the best  time to get that,"  he said.  With regard  to the oil                                                              
imported  from the  Middle East,  if  ANWR can  produce 1  million                                                              
barrels  a day,  it will  go a  long way  to help  the balance  of                                                              
payments, he  suggested.   Anything that is  produced is  good for                                                              
Alaska's  economy as  well  as the  United  States'  economy as  a                                                              
Number 0843                                                                                                                     
VICE  CHAIR  MASEK determined  that  there  was  no one  else  who                                                              
wished to testify.   She then expressed  her hope that  some day a                                                              
resolution will  be [approved] by  Congress so that there  will be                                                              
the opportunity  to open ANWR for  development.  Vice  Chair Masek                                                              
closed  public testimony  and  asked if  there  was any  committee                                                              
VICE CHAIR MASEK,  in response to Representative  Gatto, explained                                                              
that a resolution  is sent to the President,  members of Congress,                                                              
and  others in  order  to inform  those  parties  that the  Alaska                                                              
State Legislature supports  the opening of ANWR.   She related her                                                              
belief in  the importance  of sending  this resolution  every time                                                              
it's  possible because  it  illustrates the  [legislature's  near]                                                              
unity on this issue.                                                                                                            
Number 0976                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  CHENAULT moved  to report  SJR 4 out  of committee  with                                                              
individual  recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal  note(s).                                                              
He asked for unanimous  consent.  There being no  objection, SJR 4                                                              
was reported from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                       

Document Name Date/Time Subjects