Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

04/23/2019 01:00 PM TRANSPORTATION

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HJR 14 URGING SUPPORT FOR NOME DEEP-DRAFT PORT TELECONFERENCED
Moved HJR 14 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+= SB 54 ALASKA RAILROAD CORP. LAND TRANSFERS TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 54 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony <Time Limit May Be Set> --
+ SJR 11 U.S.-CANADA RAILROAD PRESIDENTIAL PERMIT TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
        SJR 11-U.S.-CANADA RAILROAD PRESIDENTIAL PERMIT                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:27:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  announced that the  final order of  business would                                                               
be CS FOR SENATE JOINT  RESOLUTION NO. 11(TRA), Urging the United                                                               
States  to issue  a Presidential  permit  authorizing a  railroad                                                               
crossing of the Alaska-Canada border  from state land into Yukon,                                                               
Canada; and supporting cooperation  between the United States and                                                               
Canada   to   establish    a   public-private   partnership   for                                                               
construction of  a railroad  from Alberta,  Canada, to  the state                                                               
that  would connect  the Alaska  Railroad to  the North  American                                                               
railroad system.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
1:28:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AIMEE  BUSHNELL,  Staff,  Senator Shelley  Hughes,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  CSSJR  11(TRA)   on  behalf  of  Senator                                                               
Hughes, prime  sponsor.  She  prefaced her remarks  by specifying                                                               
that CSSJR  11(TRA) is a  "railroad resolution" different  from a                                                               
railroad resolution  being sponsored by  Representative Talerico.                                                               
She  said CSSJR  11(TRA)  would urge  the  federal government  to                                                               
issue a  presidential permit  to allow a  railroad to  cross from                                                               
Canada into Alaska.  She  explained that presidential permits are                                                               
necessary   to  allow   infrastructure  between   the  U.S.   and                                                               
neighboring countries.  She indicated  that the impetus for CSSJR                                                               
11(TRA)  was the  approach  of  two companies  in  Canada to  the                                                               
Senate  Transportation  Standing  Committee.    The  presidential                                                               
permit  is necessary  in order  for those  companies to  convince                                                               
their investors that  such a project is feasible.   She clarified                                                               
that  CSSJR  11(TRA)  "is  not  tied to  either  company."    Ms.                                                               
Bushnell stated that the intent of  CSSJR 11(TRA) is "to open the                                                               
economic  opportunities for  Alaska  and allow  commerce to  come                                                               
in."  She said the rail  line would connect to the North American                                                               
Rail System.   She indicated  that [Congress] has sought  to make                                                               
this connection  for over  100 years.   She concluded  that CSSJR                                                               
11(TRA) would be  "that next step" [to  securing the presidential                                                               
permit].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:30:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. BUSHNELL, in response to  a question from Co-Chair Wool, said                                                               
the  sponsor  of CSSJR  11(TRA)  thought  it  best to  allow  the                                                               
aforementioned  companies to  come forward  to speak  rather than                                                               
speaking on their behalf.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL noted  that would  occur  at the  next hearing  on                                                               
CSSJR 11(TRA).                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:31:08 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE STORY observed that  the proposed joint resolution                                                               
includes   language  about   the   presidential   permit  and   a                                                               
requirement  to check  with indigenous  citizens.   She expressed                                                               
her appreciation of CSSJR 11(TRA).                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:31:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL asked  what else  would be  required other  than a                                                               
presidential permit.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. BUSHNELL  responded that she  would have  to get back  to Co-                                                               
Chair Wool  with an  answer.   She said  the companies  in Canada                                                               
would be concerned with crossing the land of indigenous people.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:32:31 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN  expressed interest  in seeing a  map of                                                               
possible routes for a rail line.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  BUSHNELL  said  she  could  procure  "a  map  of  what  both                                                               
companies envisioned."                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  related he would  like visual aids brought  to the                                                               
committee by the next hearing of CSSJR 11(TRA).                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. BUSHNELL, in response to  a query from Co-Chair Wool, related                                                               
that  one of  the companies  addresses  a route  from Alberta  to                                                               
Alaska  ("A to  A"),  while the  other  proposes "Generating  for                                                               
Seven Generations" ("G7G").   She said both plans  would start in                                                               
Fort  McMurray  in  Canada  and   come  through  Delta  Junction,                                                               
directly across  the border from Canada.   The G7G plan  would go                                                               
from  Delta Junction  to [Valdez],  [following] the  Trans-Alaska                                                               
Pipeline route.   The A to A  plans on going up  to Fairbanks and                                                               
"taking the rail line down."                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:34:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SHELLEY  HUGHES,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  as  prime                                                               
sponsor  of CSSJR  11(TRA),  stated that  the  project would  not                                                               
require a funding allocation from the  State of Alaska.  She said                                                               
Congress  "granted  us the  authority  to  have this  rail  since                                                               
1914."   She indicated that of  the up to 1,000  miles allowable,                                                               
"we  only have  500 right  now."   She added,  "This would  be an                                                               
added 250."  She posited that  at the time of westward expansion,                                                               
the event  of most  significance was the  connection of  the rail                                                               
line.  She  said, "The product that would be  shipped pencils out                                                               
for the  business interests that  have looked  at it."   She said                                                               
the rail could benefit numerous ports in Alaska.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES, in response to  Co-Chair Wool, confirmed that $17                                                               
billion is  the estimated cost  of the overall project;  it would                                                               
come from private investment.   She said the applicable companies                                                               
have  had conversations  with indigenous  peoples  and have  been                                                               
good  at "getting  their social  license."   Those  conversations                                                               
will continue.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
1:37:57 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN  sought  to confirm  that  the  project                                                               
could  add  infrastructure  for those  communities  that  do  not                                                               
presently have connectivity to the rest of the state.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES pointed  out that  there would  be infrastructure                                                               
added  to come  into Delta  Junction, then  there are  roads from                                                               
Delta  Junction to  Fairbanks and  rail  out of  Fairbanks.   She                                                               
added,  "There  would  be  some  new  areas  where  it  would  be                                                               
stretched across."                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN  asked, "So,  it  would  connect in  at                                                               
Fairbanks?"                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES  answered yes.  She  said the other plan  would be                                                               
"to  feed the  bitumen, liquify  it, and  put it  into TAPS  [the                                                               
Trans-Alaska  Pipeline System]."    She indicated  that the  rail                                                               
line includes a  substance much like children's  play sand, which                                                               
makes  cleanup  of any  spilled  substances  easier, because  "it                                                               
doesn't seep  into the ground."   She said there would  be "well-                                                               
made  containers."   She pointed  out that  currently the  Alaska                                                               
Railroad Corporation  is certified  to carry  diesel, which  is a                                                               
more volatile substance.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN  inquired if  this might develop  into a                                                               
passenger line between Canada and Alaska.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES answered that the  initial development is intended                                                               
for the movement  of products; however, there  could be expansion                                                               
into tourist  travel.  In  that event,  she said the  same border                                                               
crossing  requirements used  at  custom  stations along  roadways                                                               
would  apply to  railway border  crossings.   Senator Hughes,  in                                                               
response to  a follow-up  question, deferred  to Tim  Sullivan to                                                               
explain how [a transition from  cargo to passenger carrier] could                                                               
work.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:41:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIM SULLIVAN, JR., Director of  External Affairs, Alaska Railroad                                                               
Corporation, proffered  that conversations  are still  ongoing to                                                               
figure out how such a transition could work.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:41:41 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR STUTES  asked for  confirmation that  the intent  of the                                                               
rail line is to transport fuel.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES answered  that what  she is  calling "the  anchor                                                               
tenet" is  bitumen.  She said,  "Anything else on top  of that is                                                               
icing on  the cake."  She  noted that shipping ports  from Alaska                                                               
to Asia are closer than shipping from other ports.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:43:23 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  WOOL noted  that bitumen  is also  referred to  as "tar                                                               
sands."  He summarized that  the bitumen would be transported via                                                               
rail  into Alaska,  to an  Alaska port,  then exported  somewhere                                                               
else for refinement.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES confirmed that is correct.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL inquired  whether a line starting  in Alberta would                                                               
also connect to the Lower 48.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGHES answered  that "Alberta is connected  to the Lower                                                               
48."   She said she is  not certain, but "there  may be something                                                               
coming from different directions in Alberta."                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:44:28 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN asked how many  miles would be covered with                                                               
the estimated cost of $17 billion.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES  answered that  from  Alberta  to the  border  of                                                               
Alaska is  1,200 miles, and  from the Alaska border  to Fairbanks                                                               
is  250  miles.    In  response  to  a  follow-up  question,  she                                                               
confirmed the cost would cover the entire distance.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CLAMAN remarked that $17 billion sounds low.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:45:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. SULLIVAN  stated that $17 billion  is a rough estimate.   The                                                               
typical  cost for  building rail  line ranges  between $8  to $10                                                               
million per  mile; the $17  billion estimate is derived  based on                                                               
$10 million per mile.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:45:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   HUGHES   offered   her  understanding   that   if   the                                                               
presidential permit is granted and  all goes as planned, the rail                                                               
could be installed by 2022.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR WOOL  noted that [Representative Talerico]  has proposed                                                               
legislation  to get  a  train  from Fairbanks  to  Delta, and  he                                                               
suggested the two could be done at the same time.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:47:17 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND related  an anecdote  of traveling  from                                                               
Anchorage to Haines  and described seeing Walmart  and Sam's Club                                                               
trucks  heading  south.    She  found out  that  the  trucks  had                                                               
originated from Anchorage.   At that time, West  Coast ports were                                                               
congested, and  it was faster  for those companies to  send their                                                               
materials  overland from  the port  in Anchorage  to the  Midwest                                                               
markets.  She  said this eye-opening occurrence  took place about                                                               
10 years ago.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
[CSSJR 11(TRA) was held over.]                                                                                                  

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HTRA Presentation Nome Port 4.17.19.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014A.PDF HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Washington Post Article .pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Project Milestones.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Senate Armed Services Committee Transcript.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents High North News Article.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
HJR014 Supporting Documents Senate Bill 3021.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14
SB 54 - Sponsor Statement.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Version M.PDF HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB54 - Map of parcels A B by Otto Lake.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Premier Alaska Tours Letter.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - Language from HB 119 Land Transfer Authority from 2018 Session.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HB 119
SB 54
SB 54 - ARR Resolution 2018-03 Otto Lake for SB 86.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 86
SB 54 - Fiscal Note DCCED Version M.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SB 54 - ARR Annual Property Management Report.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SB 54
SJR011 S.TRA CS ver U 4.16.19.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SJR011 Sponsor Statement 4.16.19.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SJR011 Fiscal Note S.TRA 4.16.19.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
SJR011 Explanation of Changes from ver M to U.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14 - Fiscal Note DOT-COM-4-11-19.pdf HTRA 4/23/2019 1:00:00 PM
HJR 14