Legislature(2005 - 2006)BELTZ 211
04/12/2005 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SCR 8-COOK INLET GAS GATHERING SYSTEM COMPLAINT CHAIR GENE THERRIAULT announced SCR 8 to be up for consideration. MARY JACKSON, Staff to Senator Wagoner, told members that the Senate and House Resources Committees met in Kenai last February and listened to industry make 8 different points. SCR 8 addresses one of those points by encouraging the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) to complete its investigation of the Cook Inlet Gas Gathering System (CIGGS). The RCA has developed an accelerated review process for the CIGGS and the complaint before it. An RCA commissioner attended the February meeting and spoke about the need to go forward with the complaint. SCR 8 is to be complementary to the RCA's efforts. Furthermore, the Senate Resources Committee chair does not intend to take sides on this issue, she said. 3:56:24 PM KATE GIARD, Chair, Regulatory Commission of Alaska, testified via teleconference and told members she appreciates knowing that the legislature cares enough about an issue to bring forth a resolution. That enables the RCA to keep its eyes on the "bottom line" issues that are important to the state as a whole. She informed members that she could discuss the guidelines the RCA is using for the case. 3:57:43 PM CHAIR THERRIAULT asked Ms. Giard if anything in SCR 8 could be used as justification for either party's argument. MS. GIARD replied, "As long as I keep within the yellow line, I think you guys are free to wander as you will." Both parties are highly respected and have a large economic impact on Cook Inlet; so when the parties clash the issues can be quite divisive and technical in nature. She believes SCR 8, as drafted, is respectful of the complexity of the issue. CHAIR THERRIAULT asked if anything about the issue is time sensitive or whether the legislature weighing in would benefit one party over the other. MS. GIARD replied: No, because we'll ignore you if we feel that what you're doing is going to put this case in a conflict with due process - respectfully so. But what I hear you saying is that you want us to expeditiously but carefully - and certainly Ms. Jackson's opening statements reiterated that - consider the matter. Don't let it sit. Too much is at stake. We hear you and we feel that ourselves. SENATOR THOMAS WAGONER thanked Ms. Giard for her candor and desire to bring the matter to a quick conclusion. SENATOR KIM ELTON asked whether the RCA's definition of "expeditious" is the same as the sponsor's definition. MS. GIARD said she believes the sponsor means: do a good job, do it fast, don't let it sit, but don't put it in conflict with due process otherwise the RCA will end up in court and the issue will never get resolved. SENATOR WAGONER suggested that the RCA has adopted a very aggressive schedule, which is in tune with what the resolution requests. MS. GIARD told members the RCA adopted that schedule in early March as the result of conversations it had earlier in the year on the Kenai, but the RCA has a sense of urgency on the matter as well. 4:01:07 PM CHAIR THERRIAULT said the legal counsel to the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee has not expressed concern that this decision would have any future impact on the gas pipeline from the North Slope and spur lines to Southcentral. He asked if any of the issues the RCA is being asked to weigh in on could apply to those lines. MS. GIARD said she doesn't know what ramifications the final order will have on other gas lines on the North Slope. She said the RCA will make a thoughtful order that addresses in detail the statutory and decision-making process the RCA went through. 4:02:18 PM CHAIR THERRIAULT closed public testimony and mentioned the two fiscal notes. 4:02:52 PM SENATOR WAGONER motioned to report SCR 8 and two attached fiscal notes from committee with individual recommendations. CHAIR THERRIAULT announced that without objection, the motion carried.