Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

04/18/2019 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

Note: the audio and video recordings are distinct records and are obtained from different sources. As such there may be key differences between the two. The audio recordings are captured by our records offices as the official record of the meeting and will have more accurate timestamps. Use the icons to switch between them.

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as
Download Video part 1. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HJR 14 URGING SUPPORT FOR NOME DEEP-DRAFT PORT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ SB 54 ALASKA RAILROAD CORP. LAND TRANSFERS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+= HB 123 ELECTRIC-ASSISTED BICYCLES TELECONFERENCED
Moved HB 123 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HJR 14-URGING SUPPORT FOR NOME DEEP-DRAFT PORT                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:18:09 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be   HOUSE   JOINT  RESOLUTION   NO.   14,   Urging  the   Alaska                                                               
Congressional delegation  to pursue infrastructure funding  for a                                                               
deep  draft Arctic  port in  Nome; requesting  the Department  of                                                               
Transportation and  Public Facilities to  send a letter  from the                                                               
state to  the Alaska Congressional  delegation supporting  a deep                                                               
draft  Arctic port  in  Nome; and  requesting  the Department  of                                                               
Transportation  and  Public  Facilities to  work  collaboratively                                                               
with the City of Nome on a deep draft Arctic port in Nome.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:18:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE NEAL  FOSTER, Alaska  State Legislature,  as prime                                                               
sponsor, presented  HJR 14.  He  stated that the U.S.  Army Corps                                                               
of  Engineers began  an evaluation  of 13  potential sites  for a                                                               
deep draft Arctic  access port in 2012, and in  2015, it selected                                                               
the  Port of  Nome as  the preferred  site.   The proposed  joint                                                               
resolution asks  for three things:   for the legislature  to urge                                                               
the  congressional delegation  to  pursue infrastructure  funding                                                               
"to extend  the ports"; that  the Department of  Transportation &                                                               
Public  Facilities (DOT&PF)  send a  letter to  the congressional                                                               
delegation in  support of a deep  draft Arctic port in  Nome; and                                                               
that  DOT&PF  work  collaboratively  with the  City  of  Nome  to                                                               
provide technical support.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FOSTER clarified  that HJR  14 does  not ask  for                                                               
funding  from the  State of  Alaska; the  joint resolution  has a                                                               
zero fiscal  note.   He said  the project  has been  underway for                                                               
some time, and "thanks to previous  funding from the state, it is                                                               
ready  to  complete  final  feasibility and  design."    He  said                                                               
passage of  HJR 14 would  express the legislature's  and DOT&PF's                                                               
support for "this critical maritime  transportation project."  He                                                               
deferred to the mayor of Nome, Alaska, for more information.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:20:49 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:21 p.m. to 1:22 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:22:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
RICHARD  BENEVILLE, Mayor,  City of  Nome, provided  a PowerPoint                                                               
presentation in support  of HJR 14.  He said  his time in Norway,                                                               
Greenland,  and  Iceland  showed  him that  those  countries  and                                                               
others are not  looking to the future  but are living in  it.  He                                                               
said the U.S.  is "trying to catch  up."  He said  many people do                                                               
not even realize that the U.S. is  an Arctic nation.  As shown on                                                               
the first  few slides of the  PowerPoint, he related that  out of                                                               
the 13 communities considered, Nome rose  to the top for a number                                                               
of   reasons,  including   existing  infrastructure,   intermodal                                                               
connections,   upland  support,   water  depth,   and  navigation                                                               
accessibility.  He said the City  of Nome is just under 100 miles                                                               
from  the Bering  Strait; it  has 350  miles of  roads; it  has a                                                               
level  four trauma  hospital; and  it has  an airport,  with five                                                               
different freight companies  that fly into it.  He  said the move                                                               
to increase  the size  of the port  should be  continued, because                                                               
"outside of  Dutch Harbor,  we're it."   He mentioned  ships that                                                               
visit the Port of Nome.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:25:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENEVILLE pointed  to the  map on  slide 5,  which impresses                                                               
upon the viewer the current maritime  activity in the Arctic by a                                                               
variety of vessels, including cruise  ships, cargo, and military.                                                               
He emphasized that there are only  two means by which to navigate                                                               
by  water from  the Atlantic  Ocean to  the Pacific  Ocean:   the                                                               
Panama Canal and the Bering Strait.   He said the focus is on the                                                               
far north, and "we need to catch  up."  He mentioned a visit last                                                               
summer  with U.S.  Senator Dan  Sullivan, Secretary  of the  U.S.                                                               
Navy  [Richard Vaughn]  Spencer, and  the new  Commandant of  the                                                               
U.S.  Coast Guard  (USCG)  [Karl  L. Schultz],  and  he said  all                                                               
agreed on the  need to "get a  lot of these processes  - that are                                                               
happening offshore - on shore."   He talked about the Polar Code,                                                               
which mandates that  ships not take galley waste  and heavy fuels                                                               
into the Arctic, and he said  that "that is something that we are                                                               
looking forward to being able to assist with."                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:27:34 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL asked how long Mr.  Beneville has been the mayor of                                                               
Nome.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENEVILLE  answered he is in  the middle of his  second term,                                                               
and he will  run another term.  In response  to another question,                                                               
he showed the  photo of a cruise chip backed  into port, shown on                                                               
slide 6.   He anticipated that the Port of  Nome would be altered                                                               
by  moving  the  breakwater  over approximately  3,000  feet  and                                                               
building  three  finger  piers  to  accommodate  the  variety  of                                                               
vessels.   To a  question about  [slide 5],  he talked  about the                                                               
various color-coded  vessels on  the aforementioned map,  and how                                                               
crossing  the  northern  route   is  a  cost-saving  measure  for                                                               
shipping companies.   He  said the melting  of ice,  which allows                                                               
the shipping,  is happening  three times  faster than  anyone had                                                               
expected.  He indicated that permafrost is melting, as well.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:30:46 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  relayed  that  she  represents  midtown                                                               
Anchorage  and  that  the  Port  of  Anchorage  requires  regular                                                               
dredging to  be functional.  She  inquired how often the  Port of                                                               
Nome would require dredging.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENEVILLE answered  annually.  He said  the continental shelf                                                               
"is just out  there," so by extending the  causeway another 3,500                                                               
feet means  "getting closer and closer  to deep port."   He said,                                                               
"So, it'll  all be  dredged out  to 36 feet."   He  named several                                                               
other  places  in  Alaska  where the  coastal  waters  are  "very                                                               
shallow."  He said Port Clarence  is not shallow, but it does not                                                               
have  the necessary  infrastructure.   He  said eventually  there                                                               
will be  a series  of infrastructures  going north,  "because the                                                               
traffic  is going  to demand  it."   He talked  about discoveries                                                               
that  need   to  be  made  in   the  Arctic.    In   response  to                                                               
Representative  Drummond, he  talked  about a  vessel that  comes                                                               
from Seward to Nome.  In  response to a query from Representative                                                               
Drummond  regarding the  handling  of waste,  he  said there  are                                                               
several different  types of waste,  including gray  water, galley                                                               
waste,  and  mechanical  waste.    There  will  need  to  be  new                                                               
infrastructure   to   accommodate   the   waste,   including   an                                                               
incinerator  and expansion  of an  existing gray  water treatment                                                               
facility.    He  said  [the  Alaska  Chamber]  has  long  been  a                                                               
proponent  of diversification  of  economy, and  he  said a  deep                                                               
water port in Nome  will do just that.  He  mentioned the idea of                                                               
"waste that becomes something else"  [rather than being stored in                                                               
landfill].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:36:52 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENEVILLE relayed  his upbringing  during the  Cold War  and                                                               
said that  "we can't forget the  past."  He said  that "we've got                                                               
good  relationships   with  Russia,"   but  impressed   upon  the                                                               
committee   the  strategic   importance  of   Alaska's  expansive                                                               
coastline.   He  said there  is  presently only  one ice  breaker                                                               
vessel,  but indicated  that may  change  with the  help of  U.S.                                                               
Senator Sullivan and  U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski.   He mentioned                                                               
strategy  in relation  to protecting  subsistence and  fisheries.                                                               
He  stated, "Huge  challenge; big  opportunities."   He spoke  of                                                               
other countries  coming into  Arctic waterways  and the  need for                                                               
money  to spend  to develop  the  infrastructure "to  be able  to                                                               
handle them."  He  recalled a time when the City  of Nome ran out                                                               
of fuel one  winter and the effort that was  involved in bringing                                                               
up fuel from  Dutch Harbor.  He mentioned "a  cold pocket" in the                                                               
water  below   St.  Lawrence  Island   that  maintained   a  fish                                                               
population  but  is now  gone.    He  related that  the  National                                                               
Oceanic  and Atmospheric  Administration (NOAA)  is checking  its                                                               
numbers; he  indicated that [changing water  temperatures] result                                                               
in change of  fish populations.  He spoke  about the adaptability                                                               
of the Native  populations in the vicinity of Nome  and how "what                                                               
we're doing" affects them.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:40:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY  asked about community discussions  that may                                                               
have taken place.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:40:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENEVILLE responded  that "the  discussions have  been many"                                                               
and varied,  including Native  women's rights,  assault, housing,                                                               
and labor  needs.  He stated,  "The effect has been  much broader                                                               
than just the  port."  He offered his understanding  that "by and                                                               
large," the  people of Nome  support [a deep draft  Arctic port].                                                               
He said  someone, whose opinion  he trusts, opined that  the deep                                                               
draft Arctic  port should be  in Nome  rather than west  of Nome,                                                               
because the coastal  area at Nome had already been  affected.  To                                                               
that point,  he noted that  40 years  ago, 30-40 ships  called on                                                               
Nome, while in 2018, 760 were in  port.  He said that affects the                                                               
environment.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:44:33 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  TALERICO  noted  there  is  a  large  deposit  of                                                               
graphite near Nome; therefore, he  assumes the potential is there                                                               
to develop it.   He asked if there are  other like interests near                                                               
Nome.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENEVILLE stated  that Nome has access to  gold, although not                                                               
to  the extent  it has  in the  past.   He confirmed  there is  a                                                               
source  of  graphite inland,  which  poses  concern about  routes                                                               
going through  subsistence land  to get  it to  market.   He said                                                               
there has  been much  work and  discussion on  the issue,  but he                                                               
thinks [the graphite] would go through the Port of Nome.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:46:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENEVILLE,  to the  remaining  slides  of the  presentation,                                                               
mentioned the  USCG cutter, service  vehicles, tender  buoys, the                                                               
"lay down areas" being developed,  and a diagram of the extension                                                               
of the  causeway.  He talked  about the port's role  in exporting                                                               
goods.  In  response to Co-Chair Wool, he said  overall, the port                                                               
has been open for longer periods  of the year [because of climate                                                               
change].  He said  the ice is still there, but  it is thinner and                                                               
the water beneath it is warmer.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:48:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOY BAKER, Port Director, Port of Nome, stated the following:                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     The ocean went  to ice-free in February  this year, and                                                                    
     the  ice between  the breakwater  broke on  ... Monday,                                                                    
     fifteenth of April,  which is extremely early.   And we                                                                    
     did not get  ice that formed to  any significance until                                                                    
     ... mid-January  of this year.   ... The old  period of                                                                    
     freezing  in November  and  thawing  in late  May/early                                                                    
     June - we haven't seen that in a number of years.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:49:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BENEVILLE stated  that the  USCG asserted  that the  Port of                                                               
Nome is icebound from  October 1 to June 1.   He posited that the                                                               
port is actually  icebound from mid-December to the  end of April                                                               
or mid-May.   He drew  attention to a  bullet point on  slide 12,                                                               
which  read:   "To provide  suitable maritime  infrastructure for                                                               
Arctic tour  ships -  attracting more  ships to  the state."   He                                                               
said "we" considered "what-if" scenarios with the USCG.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:50:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY sought  to clarify that the  plan before the                                                               
committee has  been approved to  go forward, and that  there have                                                               
been several  community discussions about  it and there  would be                                                               
more going forward.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:50:40 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. BENEVILLE  indicated there  has been  discussion and  will be                                                               
more.  He then remarked on the inevitability of change.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:51:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  FOSTER, in  response to  Co-Chair Wool,  reviewed                                                               
the three previously stated points  in HJR 14 and reiterated that                                                               
the proposed  joint resolution was  accompanied by a  zero fiscal                                                               
note.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:52:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL expressed appreciation for the presentation.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:52:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  STORY  said  the  project  is  exciting  and  she                                                               
appreciated hearing from the mayor about it.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
[HJR 14 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HJR014 Hearing Request.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents High North News Article.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Project Milestones.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Senate Armed Services Committee Transcript (PAGE 61 IS THE IMPORTANT PAGE).pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SCRA 5/7/2019 3:30:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Washington Post Article .pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014A.PDF HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Senate Bill 3021.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HTRA Presentation Nome Port 4.17.19.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54 - Sponsor Statement.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - ARR Annual Property Management Report.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB54 - Map of parcels A B by Otto Lake.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Version M.PDF HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - ARR Resolution 2018-03 Otto Lake for SB 86.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 86
SB 54 - Premier Alaska Tours Letter.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Fiscal Note DCCED Version M.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Hearing Request House Transportation Committee.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Language from HB 119 Land Transfer Authority from 2018 Session.pdf HTRA 4/18/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 119
SB 54