Legislature(1993 - 1994)

04/21/1993 03:40 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
                  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.                             
                                                                               

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