Legislature(1995 - 1996)
03/27/1996 03:37 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
CSHJR 59(RES) NPDES PERMIT FOR COOK INLET OIL & GAS CHAIRMAN LEMAN called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:37 p.m. and brought CSHJR 59(RES) before the committee as the first order of business. REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN , prime sponsor of HJR 59, said for over 30 years there has been discharge of salt water that's produced with oil. After it goes through cleaning facilities, it's put back in the inlet, and the process has had no adverse effect to the environment. Recently the Environmental Protection Agency came out with a draft set of regulations which increase both the amount of testing required and the frequency of testing. He said this is just another attempt of government to harass an industry that for over 30 years has been providing the state with revenue and has been an environmentally satisfactory operation. CHAIRMAN LEMAN opened the hearing to public testimony and stated testimony would be taken from witnesses waiting to testify in Kenai. JIM EVANS , representing the Alliance in Kenai, echoing Representative Green's comments, agreed the oil companies have done an outstanding job in taking care of the environment for the past 30 years. He voiced the Alliance's support for HJR 59. BILL STAMPS , representing the Alliance in Kenai and testifying in support of HJR 59, pointed out that Cook Inlet did not make the 303 D list, which is a section of the Federal Clean Water Act that requires states to identify to the EPA polluted water bodies that may need additional control measures to meet state water quality standards. The list approved by the EPA last August lists 56 Alaska water bodies identified as impaired by the EPA and DEC. The EPA and DEC evaluated 130 bodies and chose 56 they felt needed the most attention and Cook Inlet was not among them. He said even with the favorable results of these studies, there are special interest groups that will shut down the oil industry in Cook Inlet if they are allowed to. If they are successful, they will also succeed in devastating the economy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough. CHAIRMAN LEMAN questioned the last time there was any substantial spill in Cook Inlet that resulted in either the killing or the harming of wildlife or any property or fishery. MR. STAMPS responded that he didn't know, but he pointed out that the industry this relates to is production and the drilling industry, not the industry of transporting the oil. DENNIS RANDA , representing Trout Unlimited as the statewide chairman and testifying from Kenai, said that while Cook Inlet is a real dynamic resource, the chronic impact on a long-term industry such as the oil industry hasn't been researched and the data hasn't been looked at, especially considering some of the new scientific methodology. He has concern with dumping toxins and hydrocarbons into the Inlet and into the mixing zone. He said he would like the committee members making the decisions in the Legislature to understand and not just blindly rubber stamp legislation because it's from the oil industry, which the state of Alaska is certainly dependent upon. Number 300 MARILYN CROCKETT , Assistant Executive Director, Alaska Oil & Gas Association and a member of the Board of Directors for the Resource Development Council, voiced their appreciation for EPA's efforts in compiling the conflict permit, but they are very concerned about the draft permit's proposed increase in the amount of monitoring and reporting. These additional requirements will not result in any benefit in the environment, and will, in fact, add a tremendous cost and administrative burden not only to the operators of these facilities but to EPA as well. It is estimated that the cost to comply with the additional monitoring and sampling requirements will be in excess of $1 million annually. Number 329 LARRY LITTLE , an employee of Shell Western E&P in Kenai, stated his support for the position expressed by Bill Stamps in his testimony. LEONARD VERRELLI , Director, Division of Air & Water Quality, Department of Environmental Conservation, directed attention to a whereas clause on page 2, line 12, and clarified that DEC is not involved in EPA's NPDES process. DEC has its own 401 certification process which comments on the permit and provides the state criteria which is then rolled into the NPDES permit. He said DEC has sent a letter to EPA which basically mirrors the intent of the resolution and states that the monitoring is excessive and it lays out several suggestions on how to correct that, as well as suggesting what other things can be done to assure compliance with the permits. CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked if the resolution would be more accurate if that conjunctive phrase were eliminated. MR. VERRELLI acknowledged that it would. REPRESENTATIVE GREEN agreed that the conjunction was probably misleading, and he said he had no objection to its removal. CHAIRMAN LEMAN also suggested adding a new whereas clause saying that DEC has supported many of these recommendations to minimize the costs and reduce the unnecessary burden, which he thinks would lend more support to the intent of the resolution. SENATOR TAYLOR then moved a conceptual amendment for a new whereas clause, and to delete the conjunctive phrase on page 2, line 12. Hearing no objection, the Chairman stated the amendment was adopted. NORMA CALVERT , representing Marathon Oil Company and testifying in Juneau, said Marathon has been involved in the operations in the Inlet for approximately 30 years, and the additional monitoring and sampling that is called for under the proposed permit adds additional costs to the operations without any offsetting benefit to the environment. She said these maturing fields are very sensitive to increased costs, and she noted Marathon has made a lot of changes in its operations to try to reduce costs, and they are not in favor of increasing them for something that really has no benefit. There being no further testimony on CSHJR 59(RES), CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked for the pleasure of the committee. SENATOR TAYLOR moved CSHJR 59(RES), as amended, be passed out of committee with individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.