Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/22/2004 01:10 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 22, 2004                                                                                         
                           1:10 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Beverly Masek, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Cheryll Heinze, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Nick Stepovich                                                                                                   
Representative Kelly Wolf                                                                                                       
Representative Beth Kerttula                                                                                                    
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 297                                                                                                              
"An Act relating to wildfires and other natural disasters."                                                                     
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
SENATE BILL NO. 264                                                                                                             
"An Act  repealing the  time limitation on  the authority  of the                                                               
Department of Natural  Resources to enter into  agreements with a                                                               
person or persons desiring to own  an oil or natural gas pipeline                                                               
proposed  to  be  located  on  state land  for  the  purposes  of                                                               
providing  for  payment  of  the  reasonable  costs  incurred  in                                                               
preparing for  activities before receipt of  an application under                                                               
the  Alaska  Right-of-Way  Leasing  Act;  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - MOVED SB 264 OUT OF COMMITTEE                                                                                            
HOUSE BILL NO. 531                                                                                                              
"An Act relating  to natural gas exploration  and development and                                                               
to  nonconventional gas,  and amending  the  section under  which                                                               
shallow natural  gas leases may  be issued; and providing  for an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     - SCHEDULED BUT NOT REFERRED                                                                                               
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: HB 297                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: WILDFIRES AND NATURAL DISASTERS                                                                                    
SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) STOLTZE                                                                                           
05/05/03       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/05/03       (H)       STA, RES                                                                                               
01/13/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
01/13/04       (H)       <Bill Hearing Postponed>                                                                               
02/03/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/03/04       (H)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
02/05/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/05/04       (H)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
02/05/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
02/26/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
02/26/04       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
02/26/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
03/15/04       (H)       STA RPT 1DP 1NR 4AM                                                                                    
03/15/04       (H)       DP: LYNN; NR: GRUENBERG; AM: SEATON,                                                                   
03/15/04       (H)       HOLM, BERKOWITZ, WEYHRAUCH                                                                             
03/15/04       (H)       STA REQUESTS JUD REFERRAL                                                                              
03/15/04       (H)       FIN REFERRAL ADDED AFTER RES                                                                           
03/22/04       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
BILL: SB 264                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: REPEAL PIPELINE PREAPPLICATION DEADLINE                                                                            
SPONSOR(S): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/14/04       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/14/04       (S)       RES                                                                                                    
01/28/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
01/28/04       (S)       Moved SB 264 Out of Committee                                                                          
01/28/04       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
01/30/04       (S)       RES RPT 4DP 1NR                                                                                        
01/30/04       (S)       DP: OGAN, STEVENS B, SEEKINS, DYSON                                                                    
01/30/04       (S)       NR: ELTON                                                                                              
02/25/04       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
02/25/04       (S)       VERSION: SB 264                                                                                        
02/26/04       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/26/04       (H)       O&G, RES                                                                                               
03/16/04       (H)       O&G AT 3:15 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
03/16/04       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
03/16/04       (H)       MINUTE(O&G)                                                                                            
03/18/04       (H)       O&G RPT 4DP 1NR                                                                                        
03/18/04       (H)       DP: HEINZE, KERTTULA, ROKEBERG,                                                                        
03/18/04       (H)       KOHRING; NR: CRAWFORD                                                                                  
03/22/04       (H)       RES AT 1:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff                                                                                                             
to Representative Bill Stoltze                                                                                                  
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION   STATEMENT:      Presented   CSHB  297   on   half   of                                                               
Representative Stoltze, sponsor, and  answered questions from the                                                               
GAIL VOIGTLANDER, Assistant Attorney General                                                                                    
Supervisor, Torts and Worker's Compensation Section                                                                             
Department of Law                                                                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on HB 297  and answered questions                                                               
from the members.                                                                                                               
LIEUTENANT ALLEN STOREY, Director of Staff                                                                                      
Alaska State Troopers                                                                                                           
Department of Public Safety                                                                                                     
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on HB 297  and answered questions                                                               
from the members.                                                                                                               
DEAN BROWN, Deputy Director                                                                                                     
Division of Forestry                                                                                                            
Department of Natural Resources                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified on HB 297  and answered questions                                                               
from the members.                                                                                                               
RICHARD LeFEBVRE, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                           
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Department of Natural Resources                                                                                                 
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:   Testified in  support of SB  264; explained                                                               
the preapplication process and the purpose for the bill.                                                                        
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
TAPE 04-16, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  NANCY DAHLSTROM  called  the  House Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee  meeting  to  order  at   1:10  p.m.    Representatives                                                               
Dahlstrom, Masek,  Lynn, Stepovich,  and Guttenberg  were present                                                               
at  the  call  to  order.    Representatives  Heinze,  Wolf,  and                                                               
Kerttula arrived as the meeting was in progress.                                                                                
HB 297-WILDFIRES AND NATURAL DISASTERS                                                                                        
Number 0037                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  DAHLSTROM announced  that the  first order  of business                                                               
would be  HOUSE BILL NO. 297,  "An Act relating to  wildfires and                                                               
other natural disasters."                                                                                                       
Number 0078                                                                                                                     
BEN MULLIGAN, Staff to Representative  Bill Stoltze, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature,  presented  CSHB  297   on  half  of  Representative                                                               
Stoltze, sponsor.                                                                                                               
Number 0099                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MASEK  moved to adopt CSHB  297, 23-LS1073\H, Luckhaupt,                                                               
3/18/04,  as the  working document.   There  being no  objection,                                                               
CSHB 297, version H, was before the committee.                                                                                  
MR. MULLIGAN  told the members that  this bill came about  due to                                                               
Miller's Reach fire, and then later,  the Lazy Mountain fire.  He                                                               
explained that a lot of people  were forced to evacuate the area.                                                               
Some individuals were  able to regain entry to the  area and were                                                               
able  to personally  save their  homes.   Representative  Stoltze                                                               
introduced this legislation in an  effort to allow individuals to                                                               
either  regain entry  or remain  at their  place of  residence in                                                               
order to save their property.                                                                                                   
Number 0240                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked if  Mr. Mulligan could review the                                                               
differences between the CS and the original bill.                                                                               
MR.  MULLIGAN replied  that  one change  addresses  the issue  of                                                               
minors accessing the area.   The change indicates that the person                                                               
gaining reentry or remaining must be an adult, he said.                                                                         
MR. MULLIGAN said another change refers  to (b) on page 2, [lines                                                               
30  and 31,  and  page 3,  lines  1 through  3],  which reads  as                                                               
     (b)  Notwithstanding  another  provision  of  law,  the                                                                    
     state, a municipality, a  fire department, an emergency                                                                    
     medical, rescue, or  emergency services organization or                                                                    
     an employee or volunteer  of the state, a municipality,                                                                    
     a fire department, or an  emergency medical, rescue, or                                                                    
     an emergency  services organization  is not  liable for                                                                    
     property damage or the injury or death ...                                                                                 
MR.  MULLIGAN  explained  that  this  language  was  expanded  to                                                               
include  the  removal of  liability  of  emergency personnel  for                                                               
property damage.                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR DAHLSTROM  announced for the record  that Representative                                                               
Heinze and Kerttula have joined the meeting.                                                                                    
Number 0365                                                                                                                     
GAIL VOIGTLANDER,  Assistant Attorney General,  Supervisor, Torts                                                               
and Worker's  Compensation Section, Department of  Law, testified                                                               
on  HB  297  and  answered  questions  from  the  members.    She                                                               
acknowledged  that  she  has  not  seen the  CS  which  is  being                                                               
discussed;   however,  if   she   understands  the   presentation                                                               
correctly some of the department's  concerns have been addressed.                                                               
Ms. Voigtlander  explained that  she did  have concerns  with the                                                               
original  bill  where  there  could  be  competing  statutes  and                                                               
children could be  placed at risk.  The CS  addresses that point.                                                               
As she understands it, she said,  the CS only provides for adults                                                               
to remain or  return to an evacuated area.   Ms. Voigtlander said                                                               
if  that  is  the  case   it  removes  any  conflict  with  child                                                               
protective statutes.                                                                                                            
MS.  VOIGTLANDER commented  that another  concern the  department                                                               
had was  with the scope  of immunity  that was being  provided by                                                               
the bill.   It appears that  property damage has been  added into                                                               
the CS so  immunity for both personal injury  and property damage                                                               
are included.                                                                                                                   
Number 0448                                                                                                                     
MS.  VOIGTLANDER  pointed out  that  there  remains a  couple  of                                                               
issues that do not  seem to be addressed by the  CS.  She pointed                                                               
to  the need  for  clarity  on the  scope  of  immunity which  is                                                               
discussed in (b)  [page 2, lines 30  and 31, and page  3, lines 1                                                               
through 3, text previously provided].   Ms. Voigtlander explained                                                               
that this language could be read  to include claims by any person                                                               
or it could be  read to only include claims by  the person who is                                                               
allowed to reenter  or stay in an evacuated area.   When there is                                                               
personal  injury  or property  damages  often  times it  involves                                                               
others interests  as well, she  said.  Ms.  Voigtlander suggested                                                               
that subsection (b)  be tightened up so that no  civil action may                                                               
be filed for injury, death,  or property damage out of provisions                                                               
of the section.                                                                                                                 
MS.  VOIGTLANDER  said  that  another issue  which  needs  to  be                                                               
addressed in subsection (b) is  a concern that if individuals are                                                               
allowed to remain  in or reenter an evacuated area,  there may be                                                               
claims made  by their neighbors  if their neighbors  believe that                                                               
individuals who stay in the area  may do things to their property                                                               
which causes them loss or theft.   She referred to some suggested                                                               
wording  that would  provide  for that  issue  so that  emergency                                                               
providers would also be immunized from third party claims.                                                                      
MS.  VOIGTLANDER  made  a final  suggestion  to  include  broader                                                               
language which  would take care of  the issue of paper  trails in                                                               
order  to defend  tort claims  that might  arise.   She explained                                                               
that as the bill is presently  drafted, if for example someone is                                                               
allowed  to reenter  or to  stay in  an evacuated  area, and  the                                                               
emergency provider  has given that  individual a list  of rights,                                                               
which  is required  by the  bill, it  would also  require that  a                                                               
determination be  made that  the person who  wishes to  remain or                                                               
reenter is  competent to  make that decision  in order  to defend                                                               
against claims  downstream.  Ms.  Voigtlander emphasized  that it                                                               
is not an issue of  whether the emergency personnel are qualified                                                               
to make these  determinations, but that in order to  defend a law                                                               
suit two years downstream, it  is necessary to have the documents                                                               
that would show that the person  was informed of their rights and                                                               
that competency was  determined.  She said it is  important to be                                                               
mindful  that  this bill  is  written  to  address issues  in  an                                                               
emergency situation,  so this poses  some procedural  problems in                                                               
ensuring  that  everything  in  the bill  is  followed  and  then                                                               
Number 0895                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MASEK noted that the fiscal  note is the same for the CS                                                               
the committee adopted  as the working document.   She referred to                                                               
the analysis in  the fiscal note from the Department  of Law that                                                               
says the following:                                                                                                             
     ...expected to have a fiscal impact on the Department                                                                      
     of Law that will arise in the event that an emergency                                                                      
     worker's on-the-spot decision is challenged...                                                                             
CO-CHAIR MASEK asked Ms. Voigtlander to comment on that point.                                                                  
MS.  VOIGTLANDER replied  that  the Department  of  Law would  be                                                               
challenging  lawsuits that  challenge whether  or not  everything                                                               
that was  required under the law  was actually done.   This would                                                               
include issues  of fact rather  than issues  of law, so  it could                                                               
not be summarily  disposed of and could in  all likelihood result                                                               
in jury  trials on these issues.   Since this bill  does not take                                                               
care of third party claims it  is quite possible that there would                                                               
be  tort claims  raised  by  family members  of  someone who  was                                                               
allowed  to remain  or reenter  or by  other property  owners who                                                               
have third party claims.                                                                                                        
Number 1029                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  commented that  even though  this bill                                                               
deals with  wildfires and  natural disasters, he  said it  is his                                                               
belief  that this  bill should  have a  House Judiciary  Standing                                                               
Committee referral because many of  his concerns deal with issues                                                               
under judiciary purview.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  pointed out  that individuals  who are                                                               
allowed  to reenter  or remain  in an  evacuated area  are facing                                                               
very  high  stress  levels.     He  said  he  is  concerned  that                                                               
individuals would  be presented with  a list of  conditions under                                                               
which the  individual is  permit to  enter.   What if  the family                                                               
comes back  later and says  the person who  may have died  in the                                                               
fire  was not  rational and  should  never have  been allowed  to                                                               
remain  or reenter.   Representative  Guttenberg  asked what  the                                                               
state's role is in this.                                                                                                        
Number 1110                                                                                                                     
MS. VOIGTLANDER responded that the  emergency evacuation may have                                                               
been  done  by state  agents  or  agencies,  or local  agents  or                                                               
agencies,  or it  could be  done by  coordinated teams  of state,                                                               
federal,  and  local personnel.    She  said that  Representative                                                               
Guttenberg's point  is exactly the  issue that she  was referring                                                               
to in her earlier statement.   If after the fact, someone were to                                                               
challenge whether the determination  was properly made or whether                                                               
the resident  was or  was not competent  to understand  the risks                                                               
he/she  were   putting  themselves  in,  the   state  could  face                                                               
liability, she said.                                                                                                            
MS.  VOIGTLANDER told  the members  that last  session there  was                                                               
legislation passed that included  immunity provisions in Title 41                                                               
that  relate to  wildfires.    There are  sections  in there  for                                                               
reckless conduct or  things of that nature.  She  said that since                                                               
this bill  provides for immunities  there may  be an issue  as to                                                               
whether it  is the  intent of  the legislature  to make  in roads                                                               
into  immunities that  passed last  session related  to wildfires                                                               
and emergency  situations.  The  legal issue that this  raises is                                                               
whether  or not  this  bill  is intended  to  cut  back on  those                                                               
immunities.  Ms.  Voigtlander said that if it is  not intended to                                                               
do so,  but that  the intent  is to allow  residents to  enter or                                                               
remain  in an  evacuated  area,  the way  to  avoid liability  to                                                               
local,  state,  and  federal  governments  would  be  to  provide                                                               
broader language such  as "there may be no claims  arising out of                                                               
this bill".   That way there would be  no incompatibility between                                                               
HB  297 and  the  statutes  that were  passed  last session,  Ms.                                                               
Voigtlander summarized.                                                                                                         
CO-CHAIR DAHLSTROM told the members  that after hearing the other                                                               
testifiers, it  is her intention  to hold  the bill.   There have                                                               
been significant  concerns brought forward both  from the sponsor                                                               
and the testifiers.                                                                                                             
Number 1349                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA asked  if Ms.  Voigtlander knows  if any                                                               
other state  has laws similar to  what is being proposed  in this                                                               
MS. VOIGTLANDER replied  that she has not looked at  the issue of                                                               
how other states handle individuals  reentering [or remaining] in                                                               
an evacuated area.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  commented  that   she  thinks  this  is                                                               
Number 1403                                                                                                                     
LIEUTENANT  ALLEN   STOREY,  Director  of  Staff,   Alaska  State                                                               
Troopers, Department of Public Safety  (DPS), testified on HB 297                                                               
and  answered questions  from the  members.   He preferenced  his                                                               
comments by  saying that he  just received a  copy of the  CS and                                                               
has not  had an opportunity  to discuss it with  the commissioner                                                               
of the  DPS, so his testimony  is based upon past  discussions of                                                               
the issues, and  not necessarily in light of the  CS.  Lieutenant                                                               
Storey told  the members that  the lessons  of the Big  Lake fire                                                               
and the  Lazy Mountain fire were  not lost on the  department and                                                               
those lessons that  were learned will help  the department manage                                                               
instances like that in the future.                                                                                              
LIEUTENANT STOREY explained that  the department is in compliance                                                               
with the governor's Administrative Order  170 which was signed in                                                               
January of 1997.   From this order a plan  was put together which                                                               
was primarily spearheaded by the  Department of Natural Resources                                                               
(DNR) with DPS,  local, and other agency  involvement, to outline                                                               
in great detail how to manage  these kinds of incidents.  He said                                                               
that DNR  and DPS  use this  plan now  when dealing  with natural                                                               
disasters and  other events  that are applicable.   The  plan has                                                               
many  of the  same  provisions  that are  in  the proposed  bill,                                                               
Lieutenant  Storey   commented.    The  plan   is  actually  more                                                               
resident-friendly and  provides for  more flexibility,  he added.                                                               
He emphasized that the plan  which already exists is very dynamic                                                               
and has the  input of all the  agencies.  Don Savage,  who at the                                                               
time was a  captain with the Alaska State Troopers  in Palmer and                                                               
is now the  chief of the Wasilla Police Department,  is an expert                                                               
in  the incident  command  system, he  said.   Lieutenant  Storey                                                               
reaffirmed his  belief that the  plan is more  comprehensive than                                                               
the provisions of the bill.                                                                                                     
LIEUTENANT  STOREY clarified  that the  authority to  evacuate an                                                               
area is  very limited.  It  is primarily centered at  the feet of                                                               
firefighters  who  can   order  an  evacuation,  he   said.    He                                                               
summarized  that  DPS  would  be  working  through  the  incident                                                               
command  system.   He reiterated  that the  exiting plan  is more                                                               
user-friendly, has greater flexibility,  and addresses the issues                                                               
that HB 279 is targeting.                                                                                                       
Number 1638                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF referred  to  the Kenai  Lake  fire in  2001                                                               
where  there   was  tremendous   community  support   to  protect                                                               
structures.  There was an  ordered evacuation to take citizens to                                                               
Seward; however,  it is  his understanding  that very  few people                                                               
left.   They remained  behind to protect  their homes,  he added.                                                               
Representative  Wolf  asked  if  it   is  up  to  individuals  to                                                               
determine whether they leave or  not after an evacuation order is                                                               
LIEUTENANT  STOREY replied  that is  a prime  example where  this                                                               
plan was  used.   He said he  understands from  previous hearings                                                               
that  the plan  has been  used  on three  wildfires.   Lieutenant                                                               
Storey  said  the plan  does  not  have the  enforced  evacuation                                                               
provisions in  it, it allows  people to  stay and try  to protect                                                               
their property.   However,  in the public  safety industry  it is                                                               
their  responsibility to  make people  aware of  the dangers  and                                                               
seek voluntary compliance if it is appropriate to do so.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  commented that the volunteer  support during                                                               
that fire  is the very reason  there is a Trail  Lakes Campground                                                               
on the  Kenai Lake.   A volunteer  firefighter, who did  not have                                                               
his red  card, jumped  on a CAT  and cut a  fire line  around the                                                               
Trail Lakes Campground.  The fact  that he was discovered that he                                                               
was  not certified  about  half  way through  the  process, so  a                                                               
certified  firefighter  jumped on  the  CAT  and rode  with  him,                                                               
Representative Wolf said.                                                                                                       
Number 1790                                                                                                                     
DEAN BROWN, Deputy Director, Division  of Forestry, Department of                                                               
Natural  Resources, testified  on HB  297 and  answered questions                                                               
from  the members.   He  told the  members that  he supports  the                                                               
testimony provided to the committee.   Mr. Brown offered that the                                                               
department  has utilized  and refined  the evacuation  guidelines                                                               
that   were  developed   in   order   to  essentially   implement                                                               
evacuations.    There  is  a working  process  ongoing  with  the                                                               
homeowners' association on Lazy  Mountain, Alaska State Troopers,                                                               
and the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs.                                                                             
Number 1843                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE  said she  recalls  that  the priority  in                                                               
fighting fires  was saving lives,  first; saving  cabins, second,                                                               
and acreage, third.  Is that correct she asked.                                                                                 
MR. BROWN agreed.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE posed  a  hypothetical  question where  an                                                               
individual either  remains or reenters  an evacuated area.   Does                                                               
that mean that  firefighting efforts will be shifted  to save the                                                               
person who refuses to leave, she asked.                                                                                         
MR. BROWN commented that is a  good observation.  There have been                                                               
internal discussions  about risking the lives  of firefighters or                                                               
other  support personnel  to save  the lives  of individuals  who                                                               
have gone back into  an area that is known to be  risky.  That is                                                               
a concern  and will be factored  into any decision that  is made,                                                               
he said.                                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE  agreed that  is  a  major concern.    She                                                               
suggested  that  an obstinate  person  or  one who  for  whatever                                                               
reason refuses to leave an area,  can put a firefighter or rescue                                                               
personnel  in  jeopardy  because  they are  charged  with  saving                                                               
lives.   It  also  affects  the strategy  in  fighting the  fire,                                                               
Representative Heinze added.                                                                                                    
MR. BROWN acknowledged  that this is an important  concern.  Much                                                               
depends on the  facts that are known at the  time the decision is                                                               
made.  He emphasized that  [saving] lives is the primary mission,                                                               
then saving property.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE posed a hypothetical  question where a fire                                                               
was threatening Talkeetna.   However, there is one  person who is                                                               
90 degrees  South of there, and  manpower will have to  be pulled                                                               
to protect that  person and possibly endanger other  lives.  What                                                               
if the decision  was made to have greater  security in Talkeetna,                                                               
and the one person  who lives South of there is  lost.  She asked                                                               
what would happen then.                                                                                                         
MR. BROWN suggested  that question be posed to  the Department of                                                               
Law.  The incident commander  makes decisions in many situations,                                                               
and while speculation  is important in preplanning  what might be                                                               
faced, he said he is  not comfortable providing an answer without                                                               
having actual situation.                                                                                                        
Number 2081                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE  commented  that  this bill  may  put  the                                                               
department in a situation where it cannot get out.                                                                              
MR.  BROWN  replied  that  he  believes  the  comments  that  Ms.                                                               
Voigtlander made  regarding exposure to liability  for individual                                                               
firefighters and local municipalities are good ones.                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  shared that in  his youth he  fought a                                                               
lot of forest  fires both in urban and rural  settings.  He noted                                                               
that  there  is a  zero  fiscal  note  and questioned  whether  a                                                               
component  would be  added for  liability.   He also  asked if  a                                                               
protocol would be  written for individuals who come up  a road or                                                               
trail and  want a decision on  whether or not he/she  can go into                                                               
an area.  Will there be  a component for training with respect to                                                               
this, he asked.                                                                                                                 
MR. BROWN responded that policy  and procedures are in place, and                                                               
there has already  been training of firefighters.   The liability                                                               
question is  not one  that he  can address, he  said.   Mr. Brown                                                               
told the  members that  it is not  the department's  intention to                                                               
add a fiscal note for firefighter training at the point.                                                                        
Number 2192                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR  DAHLSTROM  announced  the  HB   297  will  be  held  in                                                               
[Co-Chair Dahlstrom passed the gavel over to Co-Chair Masek.]                                                                   
SB 264-REPEAL PIPELINE PREAPPLICATION DEADLINE                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK announced  that the final order  of business would                                                               
be SENATE BILL NO. 264, "An  Act repealing the time limitation on                                                               
the authority  of the  Department of  Natural Resources  to enter                                                               
into agreements with  a person or persons desiring to  own an oil                                                               
or natural gas pipeline proposed to  be located on state land for                                                               
the purposes  of providing  for payment  of the  reasonable costs                                                               
incurred  in  preparing  for  activities  before  receipt  of  an                                                               
application  under  the  Alaska  Right-of-Way  Leasing  Act;  and                                                               
providing for an effective date."                                                                                               
Number 2239                                                                                                                     
RICHARD   LeFEBVRE,   Deputy    Commissioner,   Office   of   the                                                               
Commissioner, Department  of Natural Resources  (DNR), testified,                                                               
and stated support for SB 264.   He explained that the purpose of                                                               
the bill is  to repeal the sunset date in  AS 38.35.145(c).  This                                                               
statute  allows DNR  to enter  into  agreements with  prospective                                                               
lessees   to   recover  the   costs   of   preliminary  work   or                                                               
"preapplication   work"   on   a  pipeline   right-of-way   lease                                                               
application.  He  said the provision ended on  December 31, 2003.                                                               
Mr.  LeFebvre   offered  some  background   on  the   subject  by                                                               
explaining that  the pipeline right-of-way lease  applicants must                                                               
submit  very  detailed   applications  that  require  significant                                                               
engineering, detail  and design work.   The requirement  for that                                                               
is  under AS  38.35.050 and  .100.   He  said in  doing this  the                                                               
[applicant] must  invest significant  financial resources  into a                                                               
project just  to complete  the application.   He  said applicants                                                               
have found  that this is  very useful, to have  agencies involved                                                               
in pre-application  phase, so  [DNR] is  aware of  the permitting                                                               
issues at  an early stage,  and can  address those issues  in the                                                               
MR. LeFEBVRE said  it provides both sides, the  applicant and the                                                               
agencies, to  get a good feel  for what the requirements  will be                                                               
for the final application.  He  explained that DNR has also found                                                               
that the  preapplication participation of agencies  expedites the                                                               
review and  approval of the project.   It also provides  for more                                                               
certainty  up  front  and  less   uncertainty  further  into  the                                                               
process, he noted.                                                                                                              
MR.  LeFEBVRE said  the aforementioned  provision  has been  used                                                               
most  recently  in  a  preapplication  work  done  on  the  Point                                                               
Thompson project before it was delayed,  and was also used on the                                                               
Kenai-Kachemak pipeline  extension.  He explained  that the types                                                               
of  assistance  that are  provided  at  the preapplication  stage                                                               
include identification  and explanation of applicable  state laws                                                               
and  regulatory  requirements,  as  well as  explanation  of  the                                                               
regulatory process itself.  Mr.  LeFebvre said the identification                                                               
of land  ownership, including state,  federal, and  private land,                                                               
affects  the applicant  and  must  be dealt  with.    He said  it                                                               
benefits  both  sides  to  get  a good  feel  exactly  where  the                                                               
alignment is  or the  corridor may be,  and how  that interaction                                                               
and interface  would be with  either the private  sector, federal                                                               
agencies, or state agencies.                                                                                                    
Number 2380                                                                                                                     
MR.   LeFEBVRE  explained   that   the   identification  of   any                                                               
restrictions that  exist on the  affected state lands  that might                                                               
interfere  with  authorizing  the   right-of-way  or  hinder  the                                                               
applicant's   construction  itself   might  include   third-party                                                               
interests  such  as  utility   rights-of-ways  or  other  outside                                                               
influences such as  possibly archeological sites.   He said [DNR]                                                               
also  gets into  the  identification  of potential  environmental                                                               
issues such  as stream crossings  and how those will  be handled.                                                               
He said  it is beneficial to  both sides to resolve  those issues                                                               
in a preapplication period instead  of having to do modifications                                                               
to the  applications later on  or something  to that effect.   He                                                               
explained  that the  preapplication  process  could also  include                                                               
assistance in reaching out to  other affected parties such as the                                                               
utilities themselves,  other landowners, or  competing applicants                                                               
who understand  the issues, and  to help  resolve them.   He said                                                               
DNR   also   provides   assistance  with   development   of   the                                                               
application's initial project description and application.                                                                      
MR. LeFEBVRE explained  that it also allows DNR to  staff up in a                                                               
timely  fashion,  so   when  the  applicant  does   turn  in  the                                                               
application; DNR  is ready to  move quickly into the  project and                                                               
through  the process.   He  pointed out  that the  preapplication                                                               
work  is completely  applicant initiated  and  voluntary, and  he                                                               
explained  that an  applicant may  initiate the  request for  the                                                               
preapplication services  but are  under no  obligation to  do so.                                                               
However,  he said  without this  legislation DNR  is not  able to                                                               
work with applicants until an application is received.                                                                          
MR. LeFEBVRE  said DNR uses  the funds  it receives to  allow the                                                               
staff to participate  in that particular project.   He said there                                                               
is no fiscal  impact for having this legislation,  but the impact                                                               
of not passing it is  significant because without it [DNR] cannot                                                               
enter  into  the  reimbursable  agreements  with  the  applicants                                                               
desiring  the  preapplication  assistance   [DNR]  offers.    Mr.                                                               
LeFebvre  noted  that  DNR  does   not  have  any  general  funds                                                               
available to use to provide this preapplication assistance.                                                                     
Number 2498                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  STEPOVICH asked  if  this  new legislation  would                                                               
have sped  up the Point  Thompson project  and how long  ago that                                                               
occurred.  He also asked how often the applications are done.                                                                   
MR. LeFEBVRE asked for clarification.                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE STEPOVICH  clarified that  he was asking  how many                                                               
applications  were submitted  with regard  to the  Point Thompson                                                               
MR.   LeFEBVRE  said   [ExxonMobil  Corporation]   submitted  one                                                               
application related  to the  Point Thompson project.   He  said a                                                               
total  of approximately  six applications  have been  received on                                                               
pipeline right-of-way leases.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE STEPOVICH asked if  these applications are part of                                                               
the unitization process.                                                                                                        
MR. LeFEBVRE replied  that it is totally separate and  is part of                                                               
the  development   process  "once  they  have   all  their  other                                                               
paperwork in order and they want  to go ahead and actually do the                                                               
development work."  He said there  were two portions to the Point                                                               
Thompson  project   -  the  right-of-way  lease   itself  to  the                                                               
pipeline, which would go from  Point Thompson to Prudhoe Bay, and                                                               
the  authorizations  that  were  being  sought  for  the  project                                                               
development itself right at Point Thompson.                                                                                     
Number 2581                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR MASEK, upon  determining no one else  wished to testify,                                                               
closed public testimony.                                                                                                        
Number 2586                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR DAHLSTROM moved  to report SB 264 out  of committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  the  accompanying fiscal  notes.                                                               
There being no objection, SB 264 was reported from the House                                                                    
Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Resources Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 1:50 p.m.                                                                 

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