Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124


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Audio Topic
12:26:37 PM Start
12:27:20 PM Presentation: Nome Benefits of an Arctic Deep Draft Port
01:00:51 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Delayed to 15 Minutes Following Session --
+ Presentation: Nome Benefits of an Arctic Deep TELECONFERENCED
Draft Port by
-Richard Beneville, Mayor of Nome, Alaska
-Joy Baker, Port Director, Nome, Alaska
**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
           HOUSE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ARCTIC POLICY,                                                                          
               ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, AND TOURISM                                                                              
                         April 16, 2019                                                                                         
                           12:26 p.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Sara Hannan, Chair                                                                                               
Representative John Lincoln                                                                                                     
Representative Josh Revak                                                                                                       
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Zack Fields                                                                                                      
Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins                                                                                          
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
Representative Neal Foster                                                                                                      
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
PRESENTATION: NOME BENEFITS OF AN ARCTIC DEEP DRAFT PORT                                                                        
     - HEARD                                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
RICHARD BENEVILLE, Mayor                                                                                                        
City of Nome                                                                                                                    
Nome, Alaska                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented on the benefits of an Arctic deep                                                              
draft port in Nome.                                                                                                             
JOY BAKER, Port Director                                                                                                        
City of Nome                                                                                                                    
Nome, Alaska                                                                                                                    
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented on the benefits of an Arctic deep                                                              
draft port in Nome.                                                                                                             
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
12:26:37 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SARA  HANNAN called the  House Special Committee  On Arctic                                                             
Policy,  Economic Development,  and Tourism  meeting to  order at                                                               
12:26  p.m.   Representatives  Revak,  Lincoln,  and Hannan  were                                                               
present at  the call to  order.  Also present  was Representative                                                               
^PRESENTATION: Nome Benefits of an Arctic Deep Draft Port                                                                       
    PRESENTATION: Nome Benefits of an Arctic Deep Draft Port                                                                
12:27:20 PM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR HANNAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
a presentation by  Richard Beneville, Mayor of the  City of Nome,                                                               
and Joy Baker, Port Director.                                                                                                   
12:27:40 PM                                                                                                                   
RICHARD  BENEVILLE, Mayor,  City  of Nome,  began his  PowerPoint                                                               
presentation [hard  copy included in  the committee packet].   He                                                               
declared his intention to bring  a deep-water draft port to Nome.                                                               
He shared details about his  life, including time spent in Barrow                                                               
and the  30 years he  has lived  in Nome.   He stated that  he is                                                               
familiar with  the high Arctic  and noted  that he has  long been                                                               
involved  with the  Port of  Nome.   He  expressed excitement  at                                                               
watching the Far North come of age.                                                                                             
MAYOR BENEVILLE  noted that  the City  of Nome  is less  than 100                                                               
miles  from the  Bering  Strait.   He  remarked  that the  Bering                                                               
Strait,   along  with   the  Panama   Canal,   is  the   Northern                                                               
Hemisphere's only passage from the  Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific                                                               
Ocean.  He  said weaker, reduced ice  has increased accessibility                                                               
to the Arctic  Ocean.  He recounted that there  was open water in                                                               
Nome during  the end of  the recent Iditarod, which  is atypical.                                                               
"What is happening," he stressed, "is happening so quickly.                                                                     
MAYOR  BENEVILLE  recounted  trips   he  has  taken  to  Iceland,                                                               
Greenland, and  Norway.  He  stated that those countries  are not                                                               
looking at  the future, they are  actively in it.   He noted that                                                               
Alaska  has over  half of  the nation's  coastline.   He stressed                                                               
that the  coastline is vulnerable,  and actions must be  taken to                                                               
protect it.   He mused  that there is very  little infrastructure                                                               
north of Dutch Harbor.                                                                                                          
MAYOR  BENEVILLE gave  a brief  background of  the City  of Nome,                                                               
which  incorporated in  1901.   He spoke  to the  history of  the                                                               
Inupiat people,  as well as the  Nome Gold Rush.   He said Native                                                               
Alaskans make up  58 percent of Nome's  current population, which                                                               
includes 3,800  residents.   He observed  that many  more vessels                                                               
are calling  on the  Port of Nome.   He relayed  a quote  from an                                                               
admiral about the opening of  the North being akin to discovering                                                               
the Mediterranean Sea.  He  noted that relatively little is known                                                               
about the  Arctic Ocean, "but we  are learning fast."   He shared                                                               
that  Nome  is   a  home  port  for  the   National  Oceanic  and                                                               
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).                                                                                              
12:32:42 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR BENEVILLE  addressed slide 2.   He said  Nome is a  hub for                                                               
over  20 communities  on the  Seward  Peninsula.   He noted  that                                                               
there  are over  350 miles  of roads  in the  area.   He said  53                                                               
villages depend on  the Port of Nome ranging from  near Bethel to                                                               
near [Utqiagvik].   He remarked that commercial  transit of goods                                                               
in   the   region   had   previously    been   limited   due   to                                                               
inaccessibility, but that is changing now.   He spoke to the high                                                               
cost of living  in Western Alaska.  A new  port, he argued, would                                                               
bolster the regional economy and  reduce costs.  He discussed the                                                               
considerable  growth of  tourism in  Nome and  noted that  if the                                                               
Arctic is available to people, people  will come.  He shared that                                                               
the Norwegian cruise company Hurtigruten  is bringing its hybrid-                                                               
powered ship, MS  Roald Amundsen, to Nome.  He  remarked that the                                                               
things  "that make  the  world  tick" are  coming  to  Nome.   He                                                               
stressed, "We need to be ready."                                                                                                
12:36:37 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR BENEVILLE  addressed slide 3.   He relayed that  the United                                                               
States Army Corps of Engineers  (USACE) conducted a study earlier                                                               
in  the decade  to identify  the optimal  location for  an Arctic                                                               
deep  draft  port.   He  said  Nome  was  selected based  on  its                                                               
location and existing infrastructure.   He predicted that one day                                                               
there will  be "a series  of infrastructure going  north," noting                                                               
that maritime traffic  will demand it.  He  shared his experience                                                               
having grown  up during the Cold  War and argued that  the United                                                               
States must increase its watch on  its Arctic Coast.  He spoke to                                                               
the shared culture between Western  Alaska and Siberia.  He noted                                                               
that there  is an intact  White Alice Communications  System site                                                               
located outside  Nome.  He  shared details about its  history and                                                               
the history  of communications  in rural  Alaska during  the Cold                                                               
War.  He restated the need for a deep-water draft port.                                                                         
12:39:08 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR  BENEVILLE  addressed  slide  4.   He  mentioned  that  the                                                               
federal  Water Infrastructure  Improvements  for  the Nation  Act                                                               
(WIIN Act) of  2016 addressed the Port of  Nome feasibility study                                                               
and adjusted certain definitions to  account for the interests of                                                               
the surrounding villages.   "It's more than  just Nome," remarked                                                               
Mayor Beneville, "it's about Western  Alaska."  He said USACE and                                                               
the Department  of Defense (DOD)  have found that an  Arctic deep                                                               
draft port in  Nome is feasible.   He noted that a  report on the                                                               
study  is  to  come.    He  relayed  the  remaining  steps  until                                                               
construction, including  the need for the  United States Congress                                                               
to  provide funding.   He  expressed hope  that a  public-private                                                               
partnership will form.                                                                                                          
12:40:42 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR  BENEVILLE  addressed  slide  5,  which  featured  a  chart                                                               
displaying  traffic  patterns  through  the Bering  Strait.    He                                                               
reminded   the  committee   that  the   Bering  Strait   is  only                                                               
approximately 50  miles wide.   He referenced a group  that wants                                                               
to  build a  railroad  beneath the  strait.   He  said the  group                                                               
suspects  that, in  75 years,  20 to  30 percent  of the  freight                                                               
traffic  that  goes through  the  Panama  Canal will  instead  go                                                               
through  the   North.     Mayor  Beneville   said  infrastructure                                                               
improvements  in the  North  would expand  the  horizon for  both                                                               
Alaska  and  the   world.    He  spoke  to   efforts  to  improve                                                               
communication between  ships and land.   He relayed  how villages                                                               
in  the  region are  able  to  alert  ships  to the  location  of                                                               
subsistence whalers.   He spoke  to the importance  of protecting                                                               
the  subsistence   lifestyle  of  Alaska  Natives.     He  listed                                                               
additional benefits to developing  maritime infrastructure in the                                                               
Arctic,  including to  national security,  life safety,  economic                                                               
viability,  and  environmental  safety.    He  commented  on  the                                                               
effects  of warming  in  the  region and  how  he tracks  climate                                                               
through  flowers, birds,  and  berries.   He  relayed lessons  he                                                               
learned  by listening  to Alaska  Native elders.   He  called the                                                               
Alaska Native people "the most adaptive people on the planet."                                                                  
12:44:53 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR BENEVILLE address slide 6.   He spoke to the possibility of                                                               
Nome   accommodating  larger   tour  ships.     He   presented  a                                                               
hypothetical  situation  in  which a  1,000-person  ship  becomes                                                               
involved in  a maritime disaster.   He asked, "Where do  you send                                                               
them?  What do  you do with these people that  are in dire need?"                                                               
He  stressed  the  importance  of  preparedness.    He  discussed                                                               
Crystal Serenity,  an 820-foot ship  that called on Nome  in 2016                                                               
and 2017.   He  distinguished between  the Northwest  Passage and                                                               
the  Northeast  Passage, the  latter  of  which  is used  by  the                                                               
Russians and Chinese.  He compared  the Bering Strait to "the eye                                                               
of the needle."  He stressed the need to share the strait.                                                                      
MAYOR  BENEVILLE  discussed  the   Polar  Code,  adopted  by  the                                                               
International  Maritime Organization  (IMO) which  regulates what                                                               
can and  cannot be  taken into  the Arctic Ocean.   He  said this                                                               
includes   fuel  restrictions.      He  spoke   to  the   revenue                                                               
opportunities  associated with  being an  Arctic reception  area.                                                               
He noted that certain wastes cannot  be carried by ships into the                                                               
Arctic  Ocean.   He suggested  that Nome  could expand  its waste                                                               
facilities to accept restricted  wastes from ships heading North.                                                               
He said  this would be  good for the  region, good for  Nome, and                                                               
good for maritime transportation.   He relayed that accessibility                                                               
to the  Arctic is  to be the  major topic of  a large  meeting in                                                               
Singapore  this   spring.     He  spoke   to  the   economic  and                                                               
environmental  benefits  of reducing  the  miles  required for  a                                                               
12:49:40 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR BENEVILLE  addressed slide 7.   He said the opening  of the                                                               
North  is good  for the  people  who live  there.   He relayed  a                                                               
discussion  he  had with  First  Nations  leaders from  the  High                                                               
Arctic about "what's in it for  them."  Mayor Beneville said that                                                               
is a  very fair  question.   He said it  is important  to connect                                                               
people who  wish to be  connected and  respect those who  do not.                                                               
He discussed measures to increase  tourism in Greenland and spoke                                                               
to the  thirst for  learning that he  sees from  modern tourists.                                                               
He  described  infrastructural  improvements  on  Alaska's  North                                                               
Slope as  a result  of development  and investment.   He  said he                                                               
wants Nome  to similarly look toward  the future.  He  pointed to                                                               
industrial  support and  the harnessing  of natural  resources as                                                               
additional  benefits   to  Arctic  development.     He  discussed                                                               
arguments  in favor  of mining  and resource  development in  the                                                               
region.    He  spoke  to  efforts  by  Russia  to  claim  natural                                                               
resources in the Arctic.                                                                                                        
12:53:48 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR  BENEVILLE  addressed  slides  8  and  9.    He  summarized                                                               
potential  benefits   to  economic/cultural   sustainability  and                                                               
environmental  safety.    He  revisited  the  topic  of  national                                                               
security.   He said  the United States  Coast Guard  (USCG) loves                                                               
coming to  Nome.  He described  services provided by the  Port of                                                               
Nome to USCG  and NOAA vessels.   He said Nome is also  a port of                                                               
refuge during storms.                                                                                                           
MAYOR  BENEVILLE addressed  slides 10  and 11,  which featured  a                                                               
satellite photo  displaying proposed  development at the  Port of                                                               
Nome.  He said the plan  is to extend the existing causeway 3,500                                                               
feet and  construct an arm  to protect  it from winds  and tides.                                                               
He added that  the breakwater would also be moved  with three new                                                               
piers  constructed  upon  it.    He  said  the  development  plan                                                               
supports both people  who wish to visit Nome and  the goods, such                                                               
as rock and  gravel, exported out of Nome.   He said the expanded                                                               
port could  be completed  by 2027 and  digging could  commence as                                                               
early  as 2023.    He  spoke to  the  importance  of getting  the                                                               
project started.                                                                                                                
12:57:11 PM                                                                                                                   
MAYOR  BENEVILLE addressed  slide 12,  which featured  a list  of                                                               
requests relating  to project  support from the  City of  Nome to                                                               
the Alaska State Legislature.   He referenced HJR 14, which urges                                                               
support for  the port.  He  said the legislation would  assist in                                                               
bringing  more  jobs  to Alaskans,  help  sustain  Alaska  Native                                                               
culture, help  the environment,  and attract  investment capital.                                                               
He stressed  that the benefits  of the  port would extend  to the                                                               
region, the state, and the nation.                                                                                              
MAYOR BENEVILLE  addressed slide  13, which  featured a  photo of                                                               
Nome in  the winter.   He pointed out  a vessel, MT  Renda, which                                                               
brought fuel to Nome in 2012.                                                                                                   
12:58:06 PM                                                                                                                   
JOY  BAKER, Port  Director, City  of  Nome, said  there are  huge                                                               
benefits to  expanding the Port of  Nome.  She said  one specific                                                               
benefit  would be  the ability  to refuel  and resupply  National                                                               
Security Cutters,  icebreakers, and  United States  Navy vessels.                                                               
She  noted that  vessels invested  in securing  the region  would                                                               
find  it easier  to obtain  these  services in  Nome rather  than                                                               
journey to  Dutch Harbor.  She  said a port expansion  would also                                                               
expand search and  rescue capabilities as well as  the ability to                                                               
respond  to an  oil spill.   She  stated that  the expanded  port                                                               
would  provide port  of refuge  conditions for  national security                                                               
vessels and  other large ships  during a  Bering Sea storm.   She                                                               
opined that the Port of Nome  is not just a community or regional                                                               
port, rather  that it  supports the entire  state and  the entire                                                               
nation.    She   noted  that  it  would  be   the  only  maritime                                                               
infrastructure in  the United States  Arctic.  She  requested the                                                               
legislature's support.                                                                                                          
1:00:00 PM                                                                                                                    
MAYOR  BENEVILLE listed  various  dignitaries  who have  recently                                                               
visited  Nome.   He  relayed  a quote  from  Richard V.  Spencer,                                                               
United States Secretary of the  Navy, who stated that there needs                                                               
to  be  "big gray  ships  in  the Far  North."    He thanked  the                                                               
committee for its time and support.                                                                                             
1:00:51 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no  further business before the  committee, the House                                                               
Special  Committee On  Arctic Policy,  Economic Development,  and                                                               
Tourism meeting was adjourned at 1:01 p.m.                                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Nome ADDP - Alaska HAET 2019.pdf HAET 4/16/2019 11:00:00 AM
Nome Arctic Deep Draft Port Presentation