Legislature(1993 - 1994)
04/21/1993 03:40 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE April 21, 1993 3:40 p.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Mike Miller, Chairman Senator Loren Leman, Vice Chairman Senator Steve Frank Senator Drue Pearce Senator Fred Zharoff Senator Dave Donley MEMBERS ABSENT Senator Al Adams COMMITTEE CALENDAR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 18 Relating to establishment of a fishing community at Adak. HOUSE BILL NO. 76 "An Act making a special appropriation to the Department of Natural Resources for the purchase of the inholdings of the Seldovia Native Association and the Cook Inlet Region, Inc., and the timber rights of the Timber Trading Company, within the Kachemak Bay State Park; and providing for an effective date." HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 18 Relating to Federal Public Land Week. HOUSE BILL NO. 148 "An Act exempting the University of Alaska from the administrative adjudication provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act; and providing for an effective date." CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 213(RES)(title am) "An Act prohibiting the commissioner of natural resources from permanently classifying state land, water, or land and water so that mining, mineral entry and location, mineral prospecting, and mineral leasing are precluded or are designated an incompatible use without an act of the legislature if the area involved contains more than 640 contiguous acres except in certain situations; and providing for an effective date." SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 33 Relating to the development of the Windy Craggy ore deposit. PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HB 76 - See Resources minutes dated 4/21/93. HJR 18 - See Resources minutes dated 3/31/93 and 4/21/93. HB 148 - See HESS minutes dated 4/16/93. See State Affairs minutes dated 4/21/93. See Resources minutes dated 4/21/93. HB 213 - See Resources minutes dated 4/14/93 and 4/21/93. SJR 33 - See Resources minutes dated 4/21/93. WITNESS REGISTER Jeff Logan, Legislative Aide %Representative Joe Green State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HJR 18. Representative Gail Phillips State Capitol Juneau, Alaska 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 76. Christina Erhart Alaska Environmental Lobby P.O. Box 82126 Fairbanks, Alaska 99708 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 76. Steve Borrel, Executive Director Alaska Miners Association 501 W. Northern Lights Anchorage, Alaska 99801 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 33. Tim June P.O. Box 672 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Ginny Hill Wood 1819 Muskox Trail Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Skip Ryman P.O. Box 1086 Yakutat, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Peter Enticknap P.O. Box 1086 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Celia Hunter 1819 Muskox Trail Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Daryl James, Mayor City of Yakutat P.O. Box 411 Yakutat, Alaska 99689 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Gershon Cohen P.O. Box 956 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Patricia Blank P.O. Box 112 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Sean McGuire 351 Cloudberry Fairbanks, Alaska 99709 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Nicholas Cassara P.O. Box 1023 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Craig Swanson P.O. Box 211 Yakutat, Alaska 99689 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Jack Endicott, Chairman Planning and Zoning Commission P.O. Box 314 Yakutat, Alaska 99689 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Robyn Cassara P.O. Box 1023 Haines, Alaska 99827 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Katya Kirsch Alaska Environmental Lobby P.O. Box 521 Haines, Alaska 99877 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. Dick Swainbank Minerals Development Division of Economic Development Department of Commerce and Economic Development 1001 Noble Street, Suite 360 Fairbanks, Alaska 99701-4948 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 33. Kerry Adler On-Line Exploration Service 8508 Boundary, #5 Anchorage, Alaska 99504 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 33. Jim Adler On-Line Exploration Services 11976 Wilderness Dr. Anchorage, Alaska 99516 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SJR 33. Pamela Brodie Sierra Club 241 E. 5th Ave., #205 Anchorage, Alaska 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed SJR 33. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 93-21, SIDE A Number 001 SENATOR MILLER called the Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:40 p.m. and announced HJR 18 (ESTABLISH FISHING COMMUNITY AT ADAK) to be up for consideration. JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Aide for Representative Green, explained the resolution. SENATOR MILLER stated HJR 18 would be held until the committee established a quorum. SENATOR MILLER announced HB 76 (APPROP: KACHEMAK BAY ST. PK.TIMBER RIGHTS) to be up for consideration. REPRESENTATIVE GAIL PHILLIPS briefly explained the bill. CHRISTINA ERHART, Alaska Environmental Lobby, supported HB 76. SENATOR MILLER called an at ease from 3:50 - 4:15 p.m. SENATOR LEMAN moved to discharge HB 76 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. Number 196 SENATOR MILLER announced HJR 18 (ESTABLISH FISHING COMMUNITY AT ADAK) to be up for consideration. SENATOR LEMAN moved to discharge HJR 18 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR MILLER announced HB 148 EXEMPT U OF AK FROM APA PROCEDURES to be up for consideration. Number 200 SENATOR LEMAN moved to discharge HB 148 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR MILLER announced HJR 28 (SUPPORT KANTISHNA AREA TOURISM DEVELOP'T) to be up for consideration. SENATOR LEMAN moved to discharge HJR 28 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR MILLER announced HB 213 (LIMIT ADMINISTRATIVE LAND CLOSURES) to be up for consideration. JACK PHELPS, Legislative Aide for Representative Kott, explained the bill. SENATOR LEMAN moved to adopt the CSHB 213(RES). There were no objections and it was so ordered. SENATOR LEMAN moved to discharge CSHB 213(RES) from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. Number 245 SENATOR MILLER announced a confirmation hearing for Governor appointees Susan Entsminger, Tok, to the Board of Game and Scott Ogan, Palmer, to the Big Game Commercial Services Board. There were no stated objections to either Ms. Entsminger or Mr. Ogan. SENATOR MILLER announced SJR 33 (DEVELOPMENT OF WINDY CRAGGY ORE DEPOSIT) to be up for consideration. STEVE BORREL, Executive Director, Alaska Miners Association, supported SJR 33 explaining the mine would bring many jobs to Haines and maybe to Yakutat, as well. Number 323 SKIP RYMAN, Yakutat, opposed SJR 33 because it would not provide jobs for Alaskans and would pollute the environment. PETER ENTICKNAP, Haines, opposed SJR 33 because sulfuric acid drainage from the mine would sterilize any water it went into forever. CELIA HUNTER, Fairbanks, said Haines has high quality, scenic wilderness and the Windy Craggy would contaminate the port area. She said there was no proof of environmental responsibility. Number 451 DARYL JAMES, Mayor of Yakutat, opposed the Windy Craggy mine development because it would endanger the fisheries and there would be no real economic benefit. GERSHON COHEN, Haines, opposed SJR 33 and mentioned that the Windy Craggy mine would bring only 25 jobs to Haines and the rest would go to Canadians. He opposed the bill, because sulfuric acid drainage from the mine would seriously pollute the Chilkat river which supports the substantial Chilkat Eagle Preserve as well as other significant wilderness resources - all of which are renewable and support the tourism industry. TIM JUNE, Haines commercial fisherman, opposed SJR 33, because it would put the Haines $41 million fishery and the $16 million per year Yakutat fishery at risk. Storing mine tailings on a glacier that drains into the Alsek River drainage area would endanger the Alsek River as well as the Tatshenshini River. He urged the committee to consider the fact that fishing was a renewable resource and mining would basically be leaching sulfuric acid practically forever. GINNY HILL WOOD, Fairbanks, said she was in the tourism and outdoor adventure business, opposed SJR 33. She said the money she makes with her business goes to Alaskan residents. She said the Tatshenshini River is one of the most beautiful in the world. If the mine goes in, it will be one of the largest open pit mines in the world and no one is sure how it's going to work environmentally. She noted that the tourist potential will go on indefinitely. She said the particular site of the proposed mine has very strong earthquake hazards. She thought the idea of a mine was silly if you take into account the impact on the local communities, fisheries, and wildlife. PATRICIA BLANK, Haines, read the committee an excerpt from an article written by Herman Daily, a World Bank economist. TAPE 93-21, SIDE B Number 580 Sustainable growth is unrealistic, he says. She urged the committee to read reports done by the National Marine Fisheries, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Environment, the Canadian Federal Government, British Columbia Commission on Resources and the Environment, and the British Columbia Ministry of Mines before making a decision. All of these reports say the Windy Craggy is an extremely dangerous and unproven concept. Number 572 SEAN MCGUIRE, Fairbanks, said the Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers are our crown jewels. As time goes by, he said, wilderness is becoming immensely valuable. People from all over the world are coming to see our wilderness. Eco-tourism is absolutely booming. Number 547 NICHOLAS CASSARA, Haines resident, said there was no economic stability for Haines with this mine, because copper prices are dropping and demand for copper going into the next century is getting to be less and less as copper is being recycled more. He said it would not provide work for Haines and would ruin the industries they are working to develop. Number 517 CRAIG SWANSON, Yakutat Borough Assembly member, said SJR 33 would have a detrimental affect on the commercial fisheries, sport fisheries, tourism, and subsistence. Any amount of economic benefit to Yakutat would be seriously overridden by the serious habitat degradation caused by the Windy Craggy mine in the future. Number 490 JACK ENDICOTT, Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission in Yakutat, said he sat through the Windy Craggy mining presentation and couldn't see any real scientific evidence that the earth and tailings dam holding all the toxic materials would not eventually fail. Windy Craggy is also in a very active earthquake zone, he noted. He reiterated that eventually the dams would fail and the environmental loss would be catastrophic and would by far outweigh any economic benefits it might provide. He strongly opposed SJR 33. Number 476 SENATOR LEMAN asked him if his analysis of the likelihood of the failure of the earthen dam was based on any engineering reports or any particular background. MR. ENDICOTT said his background was with the National Weather Service and he knows of the variations in climate and from the presentation he knew it would not last for eternity. Number 464 MR. ENTICKNAP, Haines, said he had read the Canadian government's environmental report on this project and they identified 86 significant environmental risks. They did not identify risks that would impact the U.S. per se, but the primary risk was the failure of the earth and tailings dam. Based on the risk analysis, he said they could expect to see destruction of fish habitat and the death of salmon occurring every twelve years. MR. ENTICKNAP said he had a letter from the President of the ANB/ANF which he wanted entered into the record opposing this project. Number 445 ROBYN CASSARA, Haines resident employed by Chilkat Guides, opposed SJR 33 saying impact of the mine's development on the environment might jeopardize the guiding business and, thus, her livelihood. Number 430 KATYA KIRSCH, Alaska Environmental Lobby and Haines resident, said the citizens of Haines do not want to see copper or mining chemicals from the Windy Craggy mine transported through Haines. Haines currently has one of the healthiest wild salmon fisheries in southeast Alaska. Copper ore and toxic chemicals entering waters would put the fisheries at risk. Skagway is an example of this already happening. Acid mine drainage risk is severe with the Windy Craggy, she said. It could very well devastate the Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers which flow into the U.S. Glacier Bay National Park. She also noted the high risk of earthquakes. Numerous agencies have seen enormous problems associated with development of the Windy Craggy copper mine - the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the British Columbia Commission on Resources and the Environment, and the British Columbia Ministry of Mines. Number 404 DICK SWAINBANK, Department of Commerce and Economic Development, supported SJR 33. The ore deposit, itself, is extremely rich, about 4 times the average grade of the average copper mine. From all the information he has, the price of copper is forecast to be stable or to increase. The large Canadian copper mines are beginning to be depleted. The Windy Craggy mine would pick up the slack. He said the Canadian government is only in the first phase of developing the mine, at this point. MR. SWAINBANK explained about 25 million tons of silt is going down the Tatshenshini and into the Alsek. Within that amount there is conservatively estimated about a 1,000 tons of each: copper, cobalt, chromium, lead, and zinc. This is a natural process that has been going on since at least the end of the glaciatian. It will continue to go on whether the mine is there or not. He said the area is not the most seismically active area by any means. In his opinion, the mine could be developed responsibly, particularly given the high grade ore. This added value would give the company more financial flexibility to deal effectively with the environmental issues. MR. SWAINBANK said Wrangell had a considerable amount of aircraft for servicing the mines in the Golden Triangle which brought in about $2.53 million in revenues. If Haines doesn't want the mine, there are other ways for Canada to get the ore to tidewater and to the market without even touching Alaska. But then we would have no control over it. MR. SWAINBANK said he thought the mine could be developed safely. SENATOR ZHAROFF said he could understand the people's concern with the safety of the environment and the quality of salmon with a developing mine. The potential of a dam breaking and of the toxins going into anadromous streams would have an impact with the sale of our seafood world wide - pretty much like the Exxon Valdez incident. Number 236 KERRY ADLER, On-Line Exploration Service, said he had over 20 years experience in mining and minerals exploration. He said the mining industry was improving its technologies; specifically mentioning capturing leaches off of old tailings. He noted that the Kennicott mine tailings were never impounded and there is still acid leaching going on and he still hadn't seen any detrimental effect on the Copper River fisheries. MR. ADLER said Alaska is a resource development state like some parts of Canada. Because of Canada's economic situation, he thought they would hungrily pursue development of the mine. Furthermore, he said, we have a unique opportunity to extract some economic benefit from the mine simply because of its location. Number 172 SENATOR LEMAN asked if he had studied the affect of the leaching on the PH of the watershed. MR. ADLER said he didn't have any studies on the rivers, but that base data should be obtainable as part of the mine permitting processes. Number 148 JIM ADLER supported SJR 33 which supported the environmental laws that a mining operation has to have. He said four government agencies would get to thoroughly review the project - British Columbia, Canada, Alaska and the U.S. federal governments. MR. ADLER emphasized that we needed to look at diversifying our economic base. He said that commercial fishermen need work, too, because of the unstable fish market. SENATOR ZHAROFF asked him if he was one of the mineral consultants. MR. ADLER said he was, but he had no connection with this property. PAMELA BRODIE, Sierra Club, opposed SJR 33. She supported the reasons all the people from Haines had for not developing the mine. She said that heavy metals do not degrade. SENATOR LEMAN said that heavy metals chelate, and while he didn't pretend to understand this process, he would be surprised if there weren't a number of answers to the technical concerns to make the tailing deposit less offensive. TAPE 93-23, SIDE A Number 001 SENATOR TAYLOR said that Juneau has a lot of mine tailings and the fish here aren't polluted. He said he was trying to figure out the severity of the problem when 28,000 people were happily and healthily living in this "polluted area." SENATOR ZHAROFF and SENATOR TAYLOR discussed the environmental issue a bit further. SENATOR MILLER adjourned the meeting at 5:25 p.m.