Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/14/2003 01:05 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 19-FEDERAL DIESEL FUEL REQUIREMENTS                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE  announced that the  first order of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION  NO. 19, Relating to the  ultra low sulfur                                                               
diesel  fuel  requirements  of the  United  States  Environmental                                                               
Protection Agency and their application to Alaska.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0270                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RALPH SAMUELS,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
characterized  HJR  19 as  a  resolution  that would  address  an                                                               
unfunded  mandate  from   the  federal  Environmental  Protection                                                               
Agency (EPA).  He explained that  low sulfur diesel fuel is going                                                               
to be mandated regardless of  the actions of the state, including                                                               
the  Department  of  Environmental Conservation  (DEC)  or  other                                                               
state  entities.   He indicated  low sulfur  diesel fuel  will be                                                               
used  [more frequently]  in mainly  rural communities  in Alaska,                                                               
where energy  is mostly produced  by diesel generators.   Whether                                                               
this fuel  will work  remains to  be seen;  also unknown  are the                                                               
kinds  of retrofits  required.   It won't  be this  year or  next                                                               
year,  but there  are going  to be  problems associated  with it.                                                               
Engine  manufacturers  are  going  to have  to  start  developing                                                               
engines that use this low sulfur  fuel, if they have not already,                                                               
he suggested.  He commented that  if people did not use this type                                                               
of fuel, there would not be new engines on the road.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS cited  two problems  that the  resolution                                                               
addresses.   First, the state  has authority to  receive receipts                                                               
from the federal  government to do a health study  to see whether                                                               
there  actually  is  a  health  risk  involved  in  mostly  rural                                                               
communities  with  the  diesel   generation;  however,  thus  far                                                               
Congress hasn't funded  the health study, and so  the first phase                                                               
of the  resolution asks that  the federal government  provide the                                                               
money to do  the health study.  Second,  the resolution addresses                                                               
how  this will  affect the  logistics  and the  economy of  rural                                                               
Alaska  and  whether tanks  need  to  be retrofitted  or  whether                                                               
someone needs to go to the  Denali Commission to build new tanks.                                                               
Fuels  cannot be  mixed.   Therefore, if  a barge  only delivered                                                               
fuel to  rural communities once a  year and tanks were  half full                                                               
of the old type  of fuel, the tanks would have  to be emptied and                                                               
scrubbed before the low sulfur fuel could be added.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0454                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS said  retrofits  might be  needed on  the                                                               
generators themselves,  but it was  not known what  exactly would                                                               
be involved.   There's  no way  to predict what  the cost  of the                                                               
[low  sulfur]  fuel might  be;  market  conditions are  going  to                                                               
determine   that.     Currently,  he   said,  there's   only  one                                                               
manufacturer  of the  arctic-grade  fuel, and  it  is in  Canada;                                                               
assuming  that  this  happens,   there  will  probably  be  more.                                                               
Tankers will  need to  be scrubbed  also.  "If  we go  50/50, you                                                               
could only  take half the load;  that's also going to  affect the                                                               
prices of fuel," he  said.  He added that while  the cost of fuel                                                               
cannot be determined,  the logistical costs can be -  the cost to                                                               
retrofit [equipment], the  costs to scrub the  tanks, and whether                                                               
new  tanks  need  to  be  built   are  all  things  that  can  be                                                               
[determined].                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SAMUELS explained  that the  resolution asks  the                                                               
delegation to work  with the EPA and to coordinate  with DEC, the                                                               
Department  of  Community  &  Economic  Development  (DCED),  and                                                               
potentially  the Denali  Commission to  pool their  resources and                                                               
get the  EPA to fund  the health  study and determine  the costs.                                                               
He expressed  concern if  the costs and  the health  risks aren't                                                               
determined.   He said  there's absolutely no  doubt that  this is                                                               
going to  happen, so [the  legislature] should know about  it and                                                               
[work] to  get the  congressional delegation  to help  [the state                                                               
with funding].                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0628                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE asked  Representative Samuels if any  timeline that he                                                               
knew of would compel [the legislature] to set dates.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0665                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ERNESTA  BALLARD,   Commissioner,  Department   of  Environmental                                                               
Conservation, explained  that low sulfur diesel  requirements for                                                               
trucks and buses [become effective]  in 2006, so before that date                                                               
it should be known  what needs to be done.   She said [DEC] wants                                                               
to  have a  good  handle on  the health  issues,  but that's  not                                                               
really the subject of Representative  Samuels' initiative; his is                                                               
far more  an interest for  the communities' sake in  planning how                                                               
they will handle fuel management.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 0742                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  asked  Commissioner  Ballard  what  health                                                               
issues  would be  involved in  switching from  using high  sulfur                                                               
fuel to low sulfur fuel.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER BALLARD said that's what [DEC] would like to know.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked if it  would reasonable to expect that                                                               
there would be a [health risk].                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  BALLARD  said  regarding  health  information,  the                                                               
[department] had  recently come to  understand a great  deal more                                                               
than  in the  past about  exposures to  diesel fumes.   For  many                                                               
years, those  exposures were considered  to be comparable  to the                                                               
exposures  to dust.   In  the last  five or  six years,  however,                                                               
national  analysis has  demonstrated that  there's a  far greater                                                               
risk  associated  with  those exposures  in  chronic  respiratory                                                               
diseases such as emphysema and  asthma, and that there is clearly                                                               
an established link between exposure  to diesel fumes and cancer,                                                               
she explained.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  BALLARD  said  it's  that work  and  the  exposures                                                               
associated with trucks and bus  diesel-exhaust fumes that led EPA                                                               
to  the national  promulgation and  the requirement  for the  low                                                               
sulfur  diesel fuel.   [The  department]  realized that  although                                                               
Alaska doesn't  have highway exposures comparable  to those which                                                               
were the basis  for that study, the state has  very unusual rural                                                               
exposures to diesel from combustion  in diesel generators.  There                                                               
is  no  other  place  in   the  country  that  would  have  those                                                               
comparable kinds of exposures, she added.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
COMMISSIONER  BALLARD  offered  her belief  that  the  department                                                               
should have a  good handle on the health effects  of high sulfur,                                                               
low sulfur, or any sulfur diesel  fuel.  She said this is because                                                               
[DEC] issues permits  for all of those generators; if  there is a                                                               
health issue that the department should  be aware of, it needs to                                                               
build that into the permit  conditions.  The department's work is                                                               
independent  of  the  issue  that  really  is  at  the  heart  of                                                               
Representative  Samuels' resolution,  which is  to find  some way                                                               
for communities to better prepare  themselves to manage the fuel,                                                               
she suggested.   She  said regardless  of how  communities manage                                                               
the  fuel, [DEC]  should know  what health  issue may  pertain to                                                               
those exposures.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0914                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked  if would there be a  need for support                                                               
for  this   kind  of  resolution  if   the  engine  manufacturers                                                               
determine that they don't need  any modification to switch to low                                                               
sulfur diesel fuel.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS offered his  understanding that the engine                                                               
manufacturers  have already  made  the  modifications, and  using                                                               
high  sulfur diesel  fuel  in  an engine  would  result in  major                                                               
engine damage.  He said it's  a major modification and it's going                                                               
to  happen, because  once the  engines change  over, high  sulfur                                                               
fuel cannot be used.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Number 0970                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FATE  offered  that  it   seems  the  unintended  economic                                                               
consequences  far outweigh  the  unknown health  hazards [of  low                                                               
sulfur  fuel].   He mentioned   the  remanufacture of  engines or                                                               
people going broke because they can't afford the new fuel.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS  said he agrees with  Commissioner Ballard                                                               
that  it is  necessary to  know the  health risks,  which is  the                                                               
point  of the  resolution.   He reiterated  that [switching  from                                                               
high to low sulfur diesel fuel]  is going to happen in the future                                                               
whether the state likes it or not.   The EPA has come down with a                                                               
ruling, and the manufacturers have  been given the date [by which                                                               
compliance is  required].   Representative Samuels  suggested [it                                                               
is  necessary] to  find out  about the  health risks  and address                                                               
them if they exist, and to  find out the logistical problems that                                                               
are going to  arise.  For example,  how much is it  going to cost                                                               
to retrofit or to keep using the  high sulfur fuel?  If there are                                                               
no health problems  and someone can't afford  to retrofit, [using                                                               
the high  sulfur fuel]  would be  an option, he  said.   He noted                                                               
that there were  a lot of options available but  didn't know what                                                               
they were.   Representative Samuels told members  it shouldn't be                                                               
too much to determine what would  be required or what the choices                                                               
are going to be.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1152                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF moved  to adopt  as  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS) an  unofficial,  unnumbered  work draft  labeled                                                               
"Conceptual CS for  House Joint Resolution No. 19."   There being                                                               
no objection, the proposed CS was before the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
[Tom  Chapple,  Acting  Director,   Division  of  Air  and  Water                                                               
Quality,  Department of  Environmental  Conservation, offered  to                                                               
answer questions.]                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 1245                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF moved  to report  CSHJR 19  [the work  draft                                                               
labeled "Conceptual  CS for House  Joint Resolution No.  19"] out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying   fiscal  notes.      There   being  no   objection,                                                               
CSHJR 19(RES)  was reported  from  the  House Resources  Standing                                                               
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                

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