Legislature(2005 - 2006)HOUSE FINANCE 519

02/07/2005 01:30 PM FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHB 15(L&C) Out of Committee
Heard & Held
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 32                                                                                                             
     An Act  making a  special appropriation  for a  grant to                                                                   
     Arctic  Power  to  promote  the opening  of  the  Arctic                                                                   
     National  Wildlife Refuge  for oil  and gas  exploration                                                                   
     and development; and providing for an effective date.                                                                      
Co-Chair Meyer stated that it  was not his intent to move the                                                                   
bill from Committee at this time.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  VIC KOHRING  (TESTIFIED VIA  TELECONFERENCE),                                                                   
SPONSOR,  explained  that HB  32  would  provide a  grant  to                                                                   
Arctic  Power.  He  pointed out  the current  make-up of  the                                                                   
Arctic Power with Kevin Hand and  previous House Speaker Gail                                                                   
Representative  Kohring  stated   that  the  Alaska  National                                                                   
Wildlife  Refuge  (ANWR)  carries great  importance  for  the                                                                   
state  of Alaska  with  the potential  to  carry ten  billion                                                                   
barrels of  recoverable oil.   There could be  additional oil                                                                   
and gas along the way.                                                                                                          
HB  32 appropriates  $1.2 million  dollars  from the  General                                                                   
Fund to Arctic Power for use in  promoting the opening of the                                                                   
Arctic National  Wildlife Refuge  (ANWR) by Congress  for oil                                                                   
and  gas development.   The  legislation  includes a  General                                                                   
Fund appropriation  of  $100 thousand  dollars to the  Native                                                                   
village of  Kaktovik for their  community outreach  effort to                                                                   
gain support for the opening of the refuge.                                                                                     
Representative  Kohring  advised   that  with  declining  oil                                                                   
revenues, it is  imperative that Alaska develops  new fields.                                                                   
ANWR is the best prospect for  future oil and gas development                                                                   
in the State and Nation.                                                                                                        
The appropriation  assists  in reaching  the goal of  opening                                                                   
that  region.   In  addition,  oil  and gas  exploration  and                                                                   
development  of the  coastal plain  and  adjacent land  could                                                                   
result  in  major  unforeseen  discoveries  that  would  help                                                                   
reduce  the  Nation's  future  need for  imported  oil,  help                                                                   
balance the trade deficit and  improve national security.  He                                                                   
added that Arctic Power will use  the funding to advocate the                                                                   
importance  of oil  and gas  production  from Alaska's  North                                                                   
Slope.   Arctic Power  is a non-profit  private group,  which                                                                   
has been in existence for 12 years  and has received previous                                                                   
State funding for lobbying efforts.                                                                                             
Representative Kohring urged passage of the bill.                                                                               
1:40:55 PM                                                                                                                    
GAIL PHILIPS,  (TESTIFIED VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ARCTIC POWER,                                                                   
ANCHORAGE, advised that for at  least the last ten years, the                                                                   
Legislature,  the  Administration, the  Alaska  Congressional                                                                   
delegation  and the  people of  Alaska have  worked long  and                                                                   
hard to  get the  need of  opening ANWR  to the forefront  of                                                                   
public  debate.   All major  development  projects in  Alaska                                                                   
take an  extra long period  of time.   She reported  that now                                                                   
the time  seems to be  right to make  ANWR happen.   The U.S.                                                                   
Congressional  delegation  has  requested that  Arctic  Power                                                                   
focus their lobbying  efforts during the next  several months                                                                   
on  the U.S.  House  of Representatives.    Arctic Power  has                                                                   
strong support  from the  leadership of  the House.   Opening                                                                   
ANWR also  has strong  support from  the Secretary  of Energy                                                                   
and the  Secretary of  the Interior.   President Bush's  FY07                                                                   
budget contains  anticipated income  figures of $2.5  billion                                                                   
dollars  from ANWR.   She reiterated  strong federal  support                                                                   
for the project.                                                                                                                
Ms. Phillips  stressed that Arctic  Power is requesting  that                                                                   
the  House  Finance  Committee  follow in  the  footsteps  of                                                                   
previous legislators in approving  the proposal and providing                                                                   
it in a  timely manner.   She stressed that the  timeline for                                                                   
the work is right  now and the money is needed  to accomplish                                                                   
this  necessary  work in  Congress.    She pointed  out  that                                                                   
Representative Weyhrauch is in  Washington D.C. at this time,                                                                   
lobbying for ANWR.                                                                                                              
Ms.  Phillips  voiced  her appreciation  for  being  able  to                                                                   
testify  on the  appropriation  request  and reiterating  the                                                                   
request for early funding.                                                                                                      
1:45:27 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Joule  pointed out  that  there  is not  full                                                                   
statewide  support for  the  legislation.   He  asked if  the                                                                   
State was involved in a "stuffing"  effort at this time.  Ms.                                                                   
Phillips acknowledged that there  is tremendous effort in not                                                                   
having the  legislation pass.   She  emphasized the  need for                                                                   
funding  to  stop  those  efforts.   She  stressed  that  the                                                                   
proposal before  the Committee indicates that  the "stuffing"                                                                   
could make  the difference  in whether  it happens;  however,                                                                   
the  funds  are not  in  hand  to  get things  moving.    She                                                                   
cautioned that it would take two  to three months of advocacy                                                                   
work to position the State for a favorable vote.                                                                                
Co-Chair Meyer  asked when Arctic Power anticipates  the U.S.                                                                   
Congress to discuss ANWR concerns.   Ms. Philips thought that                                                                   
would be in May 2005.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair Chenault  inquired about discussions  occurring with                                                                   
the  U.S. Congressional  delegation and  the coordination  of                                                                   
those efforts.   Ms. Phillips  advised that she had  met with                                                                   
the  Alaska delegation  before  session  started.   The  U.S.                                                                   
Congressional delegation recommended  that Arctic Power focus                                                                   
their efforts  in the U.S.  House of Representatives  and the                                                                   
states with new congressmen.                                                                                                    
Representative Kelly  noted that he  had not heard  about the                                                                   
$100 thousand  dollar contribution to Kaktovik,  asking if it                                                                   
was justified.   Ms. Philips  replied that it  was definitely                                                                   
justified;  the  funding  would  help them  prepare  for  the                                                                   
influx of business coming into that small community.                                                                            
1:50:49 PM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN  HAND, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ARCTIC  POWER,                                                                   
ANCHORAGE,  provided  details on  the  Kaktovik  budget.   He                                                                   
noted that historically, the $100  thousand dollars was split                                                                   
and $50  thousand dollars would  go to the Native  village of                                                                   
Kaktovik and  the remaining  amount would go  to the  City of                                                                   
Kaktovik.  In the  past, the money was used  for advocacy and                                                                   
education  efforts  and to  help  defer other  expenses  they                                                                   
incur.   Kaktovik  is  the  "back yard"  of  the  area to  be                                                                   
Representative  Kelly understood  that  the money  was to  be                                                                   
used as  a support for  the lobbying.   Mr. Hand  agreed that                                                                   
was correct.                                                                                                                    
Representative Joule commented  that he recently participated                                                                   
in the economic summit with the  Governor and that community.                                                                   
He noted  that the  community of Kaktovik  is "pumped".   The                                                                   
funding  will  help  offset expenses,  as  more  business  is                                                                   
funneling into that small community.   He emphasized that all                                                                   
entities  are working  cooperatively.   Representative  Joule                                                                   
added  that he  would provide  an amendment  to address  some                                                                   
Ms.  Philips  interjected  that  U.S.  Secretary  Norton  has                                                                   
scheduled a major tour of the area for March 2005.                                                                              
Vice-Chair Stoltze indicated that  the village of Kaktovik is                                                                   
not asking too  much for the value and credibility  that they                                                                   
are  bringing  to  the  table.    Such  actions  reflect  how                                                                   
important  they are to  the lobbying  effort; the village  is                                                                   
currently spending  beyond their resources and  that the $100                                                                   
thousand dollar request is minimum.                                                                                             
1:55:56 PM                                                                                                                    
MIKE  NAVARRE,  (TESTIFIED  VIA   TELECONFERENCE),  EXECUTIVE                                                                   
BOARD, ARCTIC POWER,  KENAI, stressed that the  gas line will                                                                   
provide opportunity for the State  of Alaska.  He stated that                                                                   
the  State has  done  an excellent  job  in educating  people                                                                   
nationally,  pointing  out  that  the  effort  is  now  at  a                                                                   
critical  point.     He  acknowledged  the   forces  opposing                                                                   
development  for  ANWR commenting  on  the  misrepresentation                                                                   
occurring in that circle.                                                                                                       
Arctic  Power  has  always  worked   closely  with  the  U.S.                                                                   
Congressional  delegation.  He  encouraged State  legislators                                                                   
to "stay the  course" this year, believing that  it will pass                                                                   
nationally.    He  stressed  that  the  appropriation  is  an                                                                   
investment  for the  future of  Alaska.   He  urged that  the                                                                   
legislation  pass as soon  as possible as  it carries  such a                                                                   
high potential.   Mr. Navarre offered to answer  questions of                                                                   
the Committee.                                                                                                                  
Representative  Hawker  pointed  out that  this  year  Arctic                                                                   
Power  is  focusing  their  efforts  in  the  U.S.  House  of                                                                   
Representatives.   He asked  about Congressman Nussle,  Chair                                                                   
of the  U.S. Budget Committee.   Ms. Phillips  responded that                                                                   
he is  getting a  lot of pressure  from environmentalist  and                                                                   
constituents  from  his  State   but  she  believed  that  he                                                                   
ultimately would  not be the one  to control the issue.   She                                                                   
did not know his thoughts on the issue at this time.                                                                            
Mr.  Navarre interjected  that the  reason that  there is  so                                                                   
much focus on the House Finance  Committee, it to keep it out                                                                   
of the U.S.  budget reconciliation process as  the opposition                                                                   
knows  that there  currently is  not likely  60-votes in  the                                                                   
U.S. House  to pass  ANWR as a  separate bill.   On  the U.S.                                                                   
Senate side,  Alaska has  Senator Ted  Stevens, who  is quite                                                                   
capable of handling it there.                                                                                                   
KEVIN  HAND, (TESTIFIED  VIA TELECONFERENCE),  ARCTIC  POWER,                                                                   
ANCHORAGE,  echoed statements  made by  Ms. Phillips  and Mr.                                                                   
Navarre.   He reiterated  that there  are many  environmental                                                                   
groups  lobbying   against  passage   of  ANWR   legislation.                                                                   
However,  he pointed  out  that there  is  one primary  group                                                                   
advocating  for ANWR in  Washington D.C.,  Arctic Power.   He                                                                   
urged funding for the legislation.                                                                                              
BARBARA    HUFF-TUCKNESS,    DIRECTOR,     LEGISLATIVE    AND                                                                   
GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS,  TEAMSTERS UNION LOCAL  959, ANCHORAGE,                                                                   
acknowledged  for the  record that the  Teamsters Union  does                                                                   
support the  legislation and  Arctic Power.   She added  that                                                                   
she was a member of the Arctic Power Board.                                                                                     
Ms.  Huff-Tuckness pointed  out that  Arctic Power  is not  a                                                                   
State  funded   entity  and  without   the  passage   of  the                                                                   
legislation, it would be difficult  to "push" for the opening                                                                   
of  ANWR.    Teamsters  Union  Local  959  advocate  for  the                                                                   
legislation,  as dollars  resulting  from  opening ANWR  will                                                                   
come to the State and are important for working people.                                                                         
Ms.  Huff-Tuckness acknowledged  that some  of the  political                                                                   
pressures over the  years have slowed down the  process.  She                                                                   
believed that  the concern is  now timely and that  there has                                                                   
been much  discussion, debate  and education over  the issue.                                                                   
Moving through  the budget process helps that  concern, which                                                                   
is a positive process.  She hoped  that it would succeed this                                                                   
year, as it will benefit every working person statewide.                                                                        
2:07:05 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair Stoltze noted criticism  that some of the industry                                                                   
players have  pulled out.  He  did not see that as  a problem                                                                   
as some of  their interests are  not the same as that  of the                                                                   
State.    Ms.  Huff-Tuckness   commented  on  behalf  of  the                                                                   
Teamsters, noting that their support  is on the table for any                                                                   
resource development  done in the  State provided it  is done                                                                   
in a safe manner.  The success  story is in Prudhoe Bay.  For                                                                   
the  Teamsters  Union,  it  is about  jobs,  local  hire  and                                                                   
bringing economic  development to the  State of Alaska.   She                                                                   
reiterated  support for  any important  economic  development                                                                   
opening  up in  Alaska.   Ms.  Huff-Tuckness reiterated  that                                                                   
there  is  an opportunity  to  move  forward to  develop  the                                                                   
resources;  the Teamsters  see it as  a training  opportunity                                                                   
for  construction and  maintenance  workers.   The  Teamsters                                                                   
Union will continue to fight for those efforts.                                                                                 
Vice-Chair Stoltze  stated that  he wanted organized  labor's                                                                   
commitment for the project on the record.                                                                                       
Representative  Kelly commented that  in the past,  there had                                                                   
been funding assistance  and match monies and  asked how that                                                                   
would affect  the current $1.3  million dollar request.   Mr.                                                                   
Hand  advised  that the  private  dollars that  Arctic  Power                                                                   
brings in would work in concert  with public money.  He noted                                                                   
that  the total  budget was  a  little more  than $3  million                                                                   
dollars.   Arctic Power has  been successful raising  private                                                                   
money,  which demonstrates  the  newfound optimism  resulting                                                                   
since  the  presidential  election.    The focus  now  is  on                                                                   
Washington D.C. and  that 45% of Arctic Power's  total budget                                                                   
will be  utilized  for that effort.   Mr.  Hand advised  that                                                                   
currently,  Congressman Young  is in  Seattle, attempting  to                                                                   
educate that State regarding the advantages of the project.                                                                     
HB 32 was HELD in Committee for further consideration.                                                                          
2:13:27 PM                                                                                                                    

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