Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/07/2003 08:03 AM STA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SJR 16 - END FEDERAL ETHANOL SUBSIDY                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0033                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be  SENATE  JOINT  RESOLUTION NO.  16,  Encouraging  the  federal                                                               
government to end the federal  subsidy of ethanol, and requesting                                                               
the Congress of the United  States to mandate that land currently                                                               
used to  grow corn for the  production of ethanol be  returned to                                                               
its natural state.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0040                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  CON BUNDE,  Alaska State  Legislature, sponsor,  relayed                                                               
that he attended a conference at  which one of the presenters was                                                               
a gentleman  from the  Wilderness Society  who asserted  that the                                                               
Wilderness  Society  stopped   resource  development  in  Alaska,                                                               
specifically  in  the  Arctic National  Wildlife  Refuge  (ANWR).                                                               
During  the  question-and-answer   portion  of  that  conference,                                                               
Senator  Bunde  said,  he  rose  and relayed  that  many  in  the                                                               
audience seem  to view stopping  resource development in  ANWR as                                                               
positive,  and he  then posed  a situation  in which  he had  the                                                               
influence in Congress to insist that  Kansas take down all of its                                                               
fences, get rid of all of its  cattle, and let the land return to                                                               
natural grass lands.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE specified that in  his hypothetical situation, this                                                               
would be done just because he  would feel better knowing that the                                                               
grassland is there.   Senator Bunde said,  "That's basically what                                                               
a lot  of people are saying  about Alaska; they would  like us to                                                               
be their  penance for their  environmental sins, or  [because of]                                                               
some  feel-good-notion that  there's this  mythical Serengeti  of                                                               
the North that they  get to feel good about but  not have ... any                                                               
...  financial responsibility  for."   He informed  the committee                                                               
that  the Kansas  example seemed  to resonate  with those  at the                                                               
conference.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE informed  the committee that he  is originally from                                                               
the Midwest  and knew  farmers that produced  corn.   He recalled                                                               
that once  a farmer  was kidding  him because  he was  an elected                                                               
official  who worked  for  the government,  but  the farmer  then                                                               
realized  that with  all  the  subsidies for  corn  he, too,  was                                                               
working for  the government.   Therefore,  Senator Bunde  said he                                                               
has  introduced  SJR  16  to  bring the  discussion  to  a  wider                                                               
audience.  He pointed out  that in March Congress debated Senator                                                               
Barbara Boxer's amendment, which  suggested that ANWR couldn't be                                                               
developed because "it  is good for the soul of  the country".  To                                                               
that, Senator  Bunde suggested  that if it's  good for  Alaska to                                                               
keep portions  of the state  pristine, then perhaps  other states                                                               
should [do so as well].                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE  said that this  resolution is meant to  help these                                                               
other states  accomplish just  that.   The resolution  points out                                                               
how  those states  with  some of  the  largest, most  influential                                                               
industrial  businesses that  derive great  profit from  federally                                                               
subsidized ethanol can  restore their own wildlife  and land, and                                                               
in the  process save billions  in federal revenue.   He clarified                                                               
that he  has nothing against  farmers, but the main  producers of                                                               
corn  used  to  make  ethanol  are  huge  conglomerates.    These                                                               
companies make an immense profit  from the production of ethanol,                                                               
the  production  of which  takes  as  much  fossil energy  as  it                                                               
produces.    Recent  information indicates  that  Alaska  doesn't                                                               
really  need the  ethanol for  its  air quality.   Therefore,  he                                                               
characterized  ethanol subsidies  as "pork  barreling."   Senator                                                               
Bunde offered  his hope that  SJR 16 would highlight  a different                                                               
way of viewing [ANWR].                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0609                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ  said  he  has two  concerns  with  the                                                               
approach of SJR  16.  First, Alaskans receive  more federal funds                                                               
per capita  than citizens of any  other state.  Second,  the best                                                               
approach  to  persuading  someone  is through  logic  and  reason                                                               
rather  than  insults  and  grabs  at  his/her  pocketbook.    He                                                               
highlighted that  California, Florida, Illinois,  Michigan, North                                                               
Dakota, and South  Dakota are swing states in the  battle to open                                                               
ANWR.   Therefore, if  something is  done that  generates adverse                                                               
public  relations for  Alaska, it  will be  more difficult  to be                                                               
persuasive  in Congress  and  will thereby  deal  ANWR a  greater                                                               
blow.  He  concluded by predicting that  although this resolution                                                               
may   be   emotionally   satisfying,  it   will   have   negative                                                               
repercussions.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE pointed out that logic  has been tried for a number                                                               
of years, but  it hasn't seemed to counter what  he said he views                                                               
as very emotional arguments.   Therefore, he said he doubted that                                                               
Alaska  would  experience  success   continuing  in  its  current                                                               
manner.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  BERKOWITZ highlighted  that  Alaska continues  to                                                               
send money  to Arctic  Power and Arctic  Power continues  to send                                                               
Republicans  to   Washington,  D.C.,  to  talk   with  Republican                                                               
legislators.    Although  the aforementioned  has  proven  to  be                                                               
unsuccessful, it continues.  Therefore,  he said he would suggest                                                               
changing one  variable at a  time and  that this wouldn't  be the                                                               
variable he'd recommend changing.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  BUNDE informed  the committee  that he  has worked  with                                                               
U.S.  Senator Lisa  Murkowski's  office, which  provided a  great                                                               
deal of  the information detailed  in SJR 16.   He noted  that he                                                               
provided  her with  an initial  copy  of the  resolution and  her                                                               
written comment was "Go get 'em, Con."                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR WEYHRAUCH  indicated that perhaps the  Mississippi River, a                                                               
wild and scenic river, and  other [resource-related areas] should                                                               
be  included in  the  resolution.   Chair  Weyhrauch offered  his                                                               
belief that this  should be part of a  broader national campaign.                                                               
He said he liked what Senator Bunde is doing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HOLM surmised  that when  people talk  about corn                                                               
production and ethanol production,  the use of urea formaldehyde,                                                               
which  comes  from  oil,  isn't   discussed.    Furthermore,  the                                                               
fertilizers  used  are   oil  based.    He   indicated  that  the                                                               
connection to oil in farming is pervasive.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR BUNDE remarked  that it's easier to  make decisions about                                                               
policy when the impacts fall in someone else's backyard.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1013                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved to report  SJR 16 out of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations  and  the  accompanying  zero  fiscal                                                               
note.   There being no  objection, SJR  16 was reported  from the                                                               
House State Affairs Standing Committee.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

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