Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/18/1998 03:40 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SENATE RESOURCES COMMITTEE February 18, 1998 3:40 P.M. MEMBERS PRESENT Senator Rick Halford, Chairman Senator Lyda Green, Vice Chairman Senator Loren Leman Senator Bert Sharp Senator Robin Taylor Senator John Torgerson Senator Georgianna Lincoln MEMBERS ABSENT All Members Present COMMITTEE CALENDAR CS FOR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 128(FIN) am "An Act relating to water quality; directing the Department of Environmental Conservation to conduct water quality research; establishing the Water Science Oversight Board; and providing for an effective date." - HEARD AND HELD CS FOR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO.49(RES) Relating to opposition to a moratorium on the building of roads in the roadless areas of national forests. - MOVED SCS CSSSHJR 49(RES) OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 204(CRA) "An Act providing the commissioner of natural resources with the authority to make grants of state land to municipalities for the construction and operation of sport and recreational facilities and structures." - MOVED CSSB 204(RES) OUT OF COMMITTEE SENATE BILL NO. 213 "An Act extending the termination date of the Alaska Minerals Commission." - MOVED SB 213 OUT OF COMMITTEE PREVIOUS SENATE COMMITTEE ACTION HB 128 - No previous action to consider. HJR 49 - No previous action to consider. SB 204 - See Community & Regional Affairs minutes dated 2/9/98. SB 213 - No previous action to consider. WITNESS REGISTER Representative Bill Hudson State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of HB 128. Mr. Michael Conway, Director Division of Air and Water Quality Department of Environmental Conservation 410 Willoughby Ave. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 128. Mr. Clynt Nauman, President Alaska Council of Producers 1133 West 15th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 128. Ms. Charlotte MacCay Cominco/Red Dog Anchorage, AK 99501 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HB 128. Ms. Peggy Wilcox P.O. Box 22051 Juneau, AK 99802 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HB 128. Ms. Beth Carlson Sierra Club 19632 Delphin Circle Eagle River, AK 99577 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed HB 128. Ms. Patti Saunders, Assistant Director Alaska Conservation Voice 750 W. 2nd Avenue, #109 Anchorage, AK 99577 POSITION STATEMENT: Opposed HB 128. Mr. Peter Ecklund, Staff Representative Bill Williams State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Read sponsor statement for HJR 49. Mr. Mark Stahl, Manager Lands and Resource Department Chugach Alaska Corporation 560 E. 34th Ave., #200 Anchorage, AK 99503 POSITION STATEMENT: Commented on HJR 49. Mr. Jack Phelps, Executive Director Alaska Forest Association 111 Stedman, Ste. 200 Ketchikan, AK 99901 POSITION STATEMENT: Supported HJR 49. Ms. Mel Krogseng, Staff Senator Robin Taylor State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Read sponsor statement for SB 204. Senator Jim Duncan State Capitol Bldg. Juneau, AK 99811-1182 POSITION STATEMENT: Sponsor of SB 213. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 98-11, SIDE A Number 001 HB 128 - WATER QUALITY; WATER SCIENCE OVERSIGHT BD CHAIRMAN HALFORD called the Senate Resources Committee meeting to order at 3:40 p.m. and announced HB 128 to be up for consideration. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he introduced HB 128 to identify a better way to establish water quality standards in Alaska. It seeks a scientific fact based understanding of our unique water bodies and uses, and establishes a mechanism for DEC to form a partnership with interested parties to seek funding for water quality research. The goal of the research is to substitute science and certainty for the emotional political debate that characterizes water quality regulations in the State. Without Alaska specific arctic/subarctic research, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not accept Alaska specific changes to our own water quality regulations. The vast majority of interested parties agree to a concept of forming a partnership to seek funding for five years of technical research. The Alaska Science and Technology Foundation, monies direct from Washington D.C. and Senator Stevens, and industry money are potential sources of funding. However, they can only accept application from a public agency if it's in partnership with a private organization. Federal funds may be sought at a future date and it's not his intent to request general funds for this research. He said this is not simply pro-mining legislation; it affects minerals development, fisheries and processing, municipal out falls, and any discharge into a body of water in Alaska. This bill is about the preservation of the image and quality of clear, pristine waters in Alaska and embodies the concept of multiple use. The mining industry has said they can support a water standard, if it is based on science. CHAIRMAN HALFORD noted that DEC indicated using general fund monies. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON clarified that he is not asking for general funds to finance the science. DEC has a need for funds to establish the partnering, but not for the five years of scientific basis. SENATOR TAYLOR offered technical amendments for the dates on page 4, line 18 to change "1997" to "1998;" also on page 4, line 20 to change "2002" to "2003." There were no objections and the amendments were adopted. SENATOR TAYLOR offered another technical amendment on page 3, line 13 where the Board members are compensated for $300 per day. It would seem more appropriate, if they are compensated at least at the same rate that legislators received per day which when you divide the $24,000 salary into 365 days, comes out to a daily rate of $65.78. So he rounded it off to $66 saying they would still get per diem on top of that. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he would take that under advisement since he didn't formally offer the amendment. SENATOR LEMAN asked if it would be reasonable to limit any one who is a contractor to the Department as a Board member or would that eliminate some of the talent they want on that Board. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he would like to think about that and talk to some people from the mining industry and other industries he is trying to help. MR. MIKE CONWAY, Director, Air and Water Quality Division, said they supported this bill. MR. CLYNT NAUMAN, President, Council of Alaska Producers, supported this bill, also. They see water quality at a point where it is critical to the industry and to the State. MS. CHARLOTTE MACKAY, Cominco, stated that water criteria for the State of Alaska is based on criteria adapted from studies conducted in more temperate areas of the United States. One of the main inhibitors in getting water quality research is that once the study is completed, there is no balanced credible audience of appropriate expertise to evaluate the study's conclusions and there is no commitment on behalf of the State to apply scientifically supported recommendations. HB 128 sets up a Water Quality Board that will provide for the credible evaluation of water quality research studies to serve the State as well as convince the EPA. It also provides for a commitment on behalf of the State to seriously consider the Board's recommendations. It should be noted that neither the State nor the industries pursuing this research can predict the outcome of these studies, but are committed to living with the results of standards based on sound science. At present, they have initiated studies through the Alaska Science and Technology Foundation as co- applicants with DEC and ADF&G to determine the level at which totally dissolved solids become toxic. Further studies regarding PH and [indisc] toxicity are anticipated in the future. SENATOR TAYLOR said he understood that Alaska had one water quality standard which was for drinking water. MS. MACKAY responded no; that there are various standards for protection of aquatic life, industrial uses, etc. Number 254 MS. PEGGY WILCOX testified on behalf of herself and said there are a few things that concerned her. Although the legislative intent is fantastic, she looked at the Water Science Oversight Board which would be qualified individuals, but political appointees. They would review a plan put together by DEC and interested parties, and if you remove DEC, the interested parties who have the education are probably going to be employed by the industry. Of the three things they are to examine, the third one is relative costs and benefits of toxicity testing methods. She was also concerned with the removal of drinking water (the human element) from the bill, or making differentiation between water that's going to be coming out of the outfall of a mine pipe and water that could potentially be consumed. She also agreed with Senator Taylor about the $300 fee which would come out to $12,000 for five members at a minimum of four days. She thought the $12,000 could be better used in hiring another scientist. SENATOR LEMAN asked her to clarify what she meant by removal of the human element. MS. WILCOX explained on page 2, lines 9, 11, and 14 talk about aquatic life criteria, toxicity testing procedures, and relative costs and benefits of testing methods. This would be what the Board would be addressing. She thought adding a fourth criteria regarding the extent toxics are already present and affecting public health would be useful. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said the intent was to set up as impartial a board as can possibly be done as an oversight board of scientific research that will be done by real scientists. Both industry and the regulators will, then, have a basis on which they can establish standards on which they can manipulate the water. He didn't think there was any lack of the human element and there will be testing of what the water body currently consists of as they start up. From that they will determine what the effects would be on that base for various applications. Number 350 MR. CONWAY commented that the human health criteria is well documented because human beings are pretty much the same here as they are in other parts of the country. Human health isn't at issue, but the kinds of species we find in Alaska and what is their ability is to respond to things that occur naturally in Alaska that may not be occurring in other places. He added that any time there is an operation that goes into place there is a permitting process which takes these standards and applies them to the situation that is at hand. There is rigorous criteria to go through to make sure public health would not be in danger. MS. WILCOX said the term "cost benefit of toxicity" makes her cringe. MR. CONWAY explained that was directed at the methods of getting the information you need. If you can get it from a field test kit or something easy like that, why should you have to send samples potentially out of state and spend thousands of dollars. MS. WILCOX thanked them for answering her questions. MS. BETH CARLSON, Sierra Club, said they do not support the bill as written. She questioned that the Board would be reliable because of legislative budget cuts and because section 26.03.85(b) allows the Board to set its own compensation level for partial work days and such a cost is an unknown factor. This leads to their second concern. While the legislature finds it is important for the DEC to conduct adequate research prior to proposing and implementing water quality regulations and the Department has often had to act without specific data about the State's water, this proposed legislation rather than providing additional funding to address these concerns, places an additional burden or duty on Department officials by requiring them to seek funds to perform research. Surely this added duty can only detract from research we all agree is necessary. She wonders when DEC will come to them to ask for money since they are involved in water sports, although she doubts that would happen. It appears that "interested parties" does not actually include all parties interested in water quality. Her third concern is the increased bureaucracy it creates. She agrees that citizen oversight and involvement in government is important, but they think that such oversight and involvement already exists through the pubic review and comment process. The public would be better served by hiring more scientists to work for the Department in allocating adequate funds for them to perform the necessary research they all agree is necessary. MS. CARLSON said also that the Governor is fully qualified for appointing an oversight board comprised of individuals who satisfy the requirements in section 46.03.85(a). MS. PATTI SAUNDERS, Assistant Director, Alaska Conservation Voice, said they agree with the intent of this bill that the policy of the State is to protect the quality and uses of the State's water. They also support the concept of promulgating regulations based on good research, however the solution proposed in HB 128 is ill- advised and is not likely to further the goal of protecting Alaska's water quality and public health. If the problem is that DEC doesn't have sufficient staff to get enough research to promulgate toxicity standards, the easiest and best solution is to give DEC the funds necessary to do the work. Creation of an oversight board is problematic because empowering the legislature to appoint board members inappropriately and unnecessarily politicizes the development of toxicity standards in direct contravention of the purported purpose of the bill. The qualifications required for board members all but guarantees that qualified people with a public interest perspective will be excluded from the board, while individuals who may be technically qualified, but are none-the-less employed by industry as staff and consultants, would undoubtedly fill most of the seats. The Board research plan is limited to how much toxicity ought to be allowed in State waters and further is limited to toxic effects on aquatic life. The bill does not provide for toxicity standards based on public health considerations, nor does it provide any mechanisms for dealing with accumulations of toxic material already present in our environment from past industrial practices. The notion of using private (industry) money to fund this project goes against every principal of good government. If good research is so important to protecting good Alaskan water quality and the public interest, we ought to be willing to pay for it using public funds. It would preserve the appearance and reality of unbiased objective science. This bill will ensure that only the parts that industry is willing to pay for will move forward. She concluded that they should adequately fund DEC to do the research that would help protect the public and the environment. Number 450 SENATOR LEMAN noted that Ms. Carlson was concerned about the political issues with the legislature in appointing board members, but wasn't concerned about the same thing with the Governor. The legislature is meant to represent the people and is to just suggest two lists of three names each. SENATOR TAYLOR said he appreciated the vote of confidence, since he was intending to change the Governor in the next election. MS. CARLSON responded that her concern is that this procedure is substantially different from the normal procedure for the appointment of boards and she didn't think it was appropriate nor was there any justification for changing the appointment process. It also clearly puts control in the hands of the legislature. SENATOR LEMAN asked if this board would require legislative confirmation. CHAIRMAN HALFORD answered that it didn't, because it's not regulatory; it's quasi-judicial. SENATOR GREEN added that there were other lists of board members submitted by the University of Alaska, the Governor, and the Commissioner or the Commissioner's designee. MS. CARLSON responded that her concern is with the process and the extent to which this differs from the normal process for appointing boards and then confirmation. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if this is a five-year board. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON replied yes. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he was concerned if it's not their intent to have a sunset review and this is a temporary board, that should be clarified. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said the intent is to have a temporary board. They want to get in, establish the science, establish the regulations, then be done with it. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if he would object to a sunset date that would direct a repeal after five years. He said they are already going to change the date anyway. He said it would have to be after the Department submits its research. REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he would accept an actual sunset at the end of five full years of research. Number 529 CHAIRMAN HALFORD said they would hold the bill for further work before passing it. HJR 49 - NAT'L FOREST ROAD-BUILDING MORATORIUM CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced HJR 49 to be up for consideration. MR. PETER ECKLUND, Staff to Representative Williams, sponsor of HJR 49, read the sponsor statement. The Forest Service recently announced a sweeping two-year moratorium on development of roadless areas in national forests. Although the announced land freeze appears to have exempted the Tongass National Forest from the policy, that is not necessarily the case. The public has 30 days to comment on this after which the Tongass could be included in the moratorium. Also, the Chief of the Forest Service, Mr. Mike Dombeck, has said that the final long-term policy will apply to all forests. The resolution speaks to the inappropriate manner in which the White House is dictating management of our national forests. The Forest Service has turned the public process upside down by announcing their policy first, then searching for scientific evidence to support their position and reaching out for public participation. The resolution also speaks to the Tongass Land Management Plan revised over 10 years and costing $13 million. It would be wrong to come back later with a unilateral amendment which alters the balance struck in the plan. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said that Mr. Lyle Lundberg of Ketchikan and Mr. Mark Stahl of Anchorage were ready to testify and asked if anyone wanted to testify against this resolution. There was no response. He asked if anyone needed to testify on it before it passed from this committee. There was no response. He said he would accept a motion to move it with the concurrence of Mr. Lundberg, Mr. Stahl, and Mr. Jack Phelps. MR. MARK STAHL, Manager, Lands and Resources, Chugach Alaska Corporation, suggested adding a whereas statement dealing with the Chugach National Forest saying, "Whereas the Chugach National Forest land management land plan revision was initiated in April of 1997, and this plan revision process is the appropriate venue for addressing road building and roadless area management issues in the Chugach National Forest." He suggested putting it between the fourth and fifth whereas statements. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he thought it would go better after the third whereas. TAPE 98-11, SIDE B SENATOR LEMAN moved to amendment HJR 49 to add "Whereas Chugach National Forest land management plan revision was initiated in April 1997 and this plan revision process is the appropriate venue for changes to the Chugach Land Management Plan (or words to that effect)." There were no objections and it was so ordered. MR. JACK PHELPS, Executive Director, Alaska Forest Association, said it was important to recognize that this moratorium will have a disproportionate effect on Alaska relative to the rest of the country. He said the process is lousy and a compromise of every major law that affects national forest management. The effects of this on Alaska in terms of the allowable cut for timber on our national forests is more than double that of any other national forest region in the country. SENATOR LEMAN moved to pass SCS CSSSHJR 49(RES) from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 204 - STATE LAND FOR MUNICIP. SPORT FACILITIES CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced SB 204 to be up for consideration and asked for an at-ease for two minutes. MS. MEL KROGSENG, Staff to Senator Taylor, sponsor, said our youth are too often left unattended after school, at night, and on weekends with little to do. Recreational and sports facilities in communities offer an alternative to crime and other undesirable activities. SB 204 proposes to give State land to municipalities for development of sports and recreational facilities. This land that is granted will not count against the local government entitlement and make development of these facilities more economically feasible for the communities. The bill contains a reversionary provision which prohibits local governments from selling the land. If they should decide not to use it for that purpose, it would revert back to the State, but they may trade the land for other land that might be more suitable in their area than the available State land. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if Senator Taylor minded taking out the reversionary clause because it gets complicated when you are trying to exchange land. SENATOR TAYLOR answered not at all. He added that the Department wanted the clause. He thought the land should just be fee simple. Number 526 SENATOR SHARP asked if this meant that the Fairbanks North Star Borough could apply for the route of the Yukon Quest if the Department of Natural Resources would grant that and not be counted against their land selection. SENATOR TAYLOR said he wouldn't mind. He didn't intend for there to be limitations. There are a lot of activities out there. His community is putting in an archery range. SENATOR GREEN said it looks like this creates unfair competition to some individual who might want to create a for-profit facility such as a hockey rink or tennis facility. SENATOR TAYLOR answered that wasn't the intent. Most individuals do not put up soccer or little league fields. SENATOR GREEN responded they would if they were given free land. SENATOR TAYLOR said it is set up so that those individuals who have land that the municipality could better use for that purpose could receive land in exchange. Number 495 SENATOR LINCOLN asked if there was any size limitation to the land. SENATOR TAYLOR said the discretion is left up to the Commissioner of the DNR, but there is no limitation. SENATOR LINCOLN asked him to define municipality under this scenario. SENATOR TAYLOR replied that there would be home rule and second class. SENATOR LINCOLN asked if all other unorganized boroughs would be eligible for the same land. MS. KROGSENG answered that it is her understanding that all political subdivisions fall under the classification of municipality (according the George Utermohle, Legislative Legal Services). SENATOR LINCOLN asked what a political subdivision meant. MS. KROGSENG answered that she thought it meant you're incorporated as an entity. CHAIRMAN HALFORD added that a city and borough does not include unincorporated communities. SENATOR LINCOLN asked if there was a definition of what development means. Is it planning or does there have to be a structure? SENATOR TAYLOR answered that he planned on having it done by that time. He didn't want cities applying for ball fields and then never building them just so they could get additional land. CHAIRMAN HALFORD clarified that taking out the reversionary requirement doesn't mean the Commissioner can't enter into a contractual obligation that gets performance within that four year period. MS. CAROL CAROLL, Director, Administrative Services, DNR, said they have looked at the bill and there are a couple of differences with the authority they already have to transfer lands or make grants to municipalities or entities. Those two differences are the reverter clause which they prefer not to be there and the other is that it won't be applied to the municipal entitlement portion. The grants that they make now for public purposes count against the entity's municipal entitlement. She said that when DNR does this kind of transfer, it is always for a public purpose and there was a question that the land in this bill might be used for a private facility. Other than those differences, this does duplicate the authority DNR already has. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if this was intended for private ownership. SENATOR TAYLOR answered no, he had never thought of it. SENATOR LEMAN said he wasn't so sure they should restrict this from being a privately constructed facility even though it was on public land. He thought they would want a municipality to have that option. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said he didn't want to create something that was in direct competition with a private entity, but he also agreed with the other view that there are private management contracts running public facilities. He wasn't sure he wanted to create a preferential way to create a privately owned facility, even if it's open to the public. SENATOR LEMAN said he understood, but there are times when you may have to pony up the land to make the economics work. CHAIRMAN HALFORD asked if they would contribute the land to a private profit-making developer. SENATOR GREEN said she thought Ms. Caroll said there was a prohibition against it going to a for-profit entity. MS. CAROLL responded that she was comparing what DNR's authorities are right now to the bill as Senator Taylor had it. Usually DNR, when they grant land, requires it to be for a public purpose and for the most part it is in public ownership. There are leases that private entities do have on State and municipal land. SENATOR GREEN asked about the Sullivan Arena. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said it is publicly owned and financed, but there are management contracts. SENATOR GREEN asked if there would be a prohibition against management contracts. MS. CAROLL said she would check on that. SENATOR LEMAN asked if there is a prohibition against any entities being owned by private enterprise. MS. CAROLL said she didn't think there was, but she would check on that also. Number 363 SENATOR TAYLOR moved on line 10 to delete the reversionary statement. There were no objections and it was so ordered. There was general discussion of lands for public purposes versus private and SENATOR TAYLOR said that many cities are already fully entitled and other cities are afraid if they take land under current law for recreational purposes, they are restricting the amount of land they may need for another commercial or industrial purpose. Number 291 SENATOR LEMAN moved on page 1, line 7 to delete "by the municipality" and insert "for public purposes." Also in that same amendment on page 2, line 1 delete "by the municipality." There were no objections and it was so adopted. SENATOR SHARP asked Ms. Caroll if she felt they were still operating within the present parameters the Department wishes as far as maintaining public ownership. MS. CAROLL said it would still be their wish that it be out of the municipality's land. SENATOR TAYLOR moved to pass CSSB 204(RES)from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. SB 213 - EXTEND ALASKA MINERALS COMMISSION CHAIRMAN HALFORD announced SB 213 to be up for consideration. SENATOR DUNCAN, sponsor, said SB 213 extends the termination date of the Alaska Minerals Commission from January 1999 to February 1, 2004. CHAIRMAN HALFORD said there is a $0 fiscal note which he didn't think was right on a sunset bill, because the Commission could not go forward without passage of legislation. The Administration included it in their budget, because they assume it's going forward. This one is odd, because it would sunset in the middle of a fiscal year. He said there really is a fiscal impact to extending a commission. SENATOR DUNCAN said his point was well taken. SENATOR TAYLOR moved SB 213 from committee with individual recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered. CHAIRMAN HALFORD adjourned the meeting at 5:00 p.m.