Legislature(1993 - 1994)

01/20/1993 08:00 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked if the DEC had a position on HB
  39, "An Act relating to prevention, abatement, and control                   
  of air pollution."                                                           
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said she had not done a comparison of the two                      
  bills but believed they were not the same.  She said the DEC                 
  would support the proposed "Air Quality Permit Bill" (the                    
  Senate Resources Committee bill).                                            
                                                                               
  Number 316                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN said in the past there had been an                  
  adversarial feeling between the DEC and industry and he was                  
  glad to see that was changing.  He wanted to know if the DEC                 
  was taking a strong role regarding wetlands' classification                  
  and, specifically, if they agreed permafrost land should                     
  automatically be classified as wetlands.  He disagreed with                  
  that regulation.                                                             
                                                                               
  Number 337                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL said according to the law, all permafrost                      
  areas in the state were classified as wetlands.  He said the                 
  Bush administration had made the promise of a no net loss of                 
  the nation's wetlands and a White House task force had been                  
  assigned that issue.  In Alaska, a smaller percentage of                     
  wetlands was lost to development than any other place in the                 
  nation.  He understood an average of 53 percent of wetlands                  
  had been lost in the Lower 48, and Alaska was less than one                  
  percent.                                                                     
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL explained that the Bush administration had                     
  worked on a delineation manual used in the field to define                   
  wetlands.  Alaska had some input regarding the manual but it                 
  had been delayed into the Clinton administration. On August                  
  9, 1991, President Bush had issued a policy statement on                     
  wetlands, which included a statement that states with less                   
  than one percent loss of wetlands would not have to go                       
  through the litigation sequencing required by other states.                  
  This statement had not been backed by regulations but the                    
  DEC had been working to make the one percent rule stick.                     
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL felt if the one percent rule was in effect,                    
  the DEC could classify high, medium and low wetlands, and                    
  keep tracking the use of wetlands to simplify the                            
  application process.  He stated the DEC would be working                     
  towards adding input to the delineation manual, asking for                   
  specific science and for regional delineation manuals.  He                   
  said it was very important for everyone to work for the                      
  state's exemption in federal regulations, and that a major                   
  part of the state's program was to classify wetlands by                      
  value and set up a scheme to accomplish that.  He felt this                  
  classification was in the best interest of sound land                        
  planning.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 396                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN said the wetlands issue certainly                       
  adversely affected industry and community development.  He                   
  wanted to know if there were any group efforts such as that                  
  of the Municipal League on the issue.                                        
                                                                               
  Number 400                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL said the Municipal League had passed two                       
  resolutions in the past supporting the one percent rule and                  
  the state permitting program.  He said the DEC was committed                 
  to making appointments to a wetlands task force for strong                   
  municipal representation.  He cited Petersburg as an example                 
  where all usable municipal land was considered wetlands, and                 
  assured the committee local communities would be involved                    
  and considered as partners in the planning process.  He                      
  noted this administration had said zoning belonged in local                  
  government.                                                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE ELDON MULDER said several years ago Anchorage                 
  had been embarrassed by signs around creeks and lagoons                      
  cautioning the public about polluted water.  He said                         
  legislation had been passed for a matching grant program for                 
  communities, and the state could provide funds to identify                   
  the source of that pollution.  He asked the DEC if anything                  
  had been done with that program.                                             
                                                                               
  MR. KELTON said Anchorage traditionally received a lump sum                  
  of money instead of identifying specific projects for                        
  funding.  Those Anchorage dollars required a 50 percent                      
  match.  Anchorage could then allocate those dollars in any                   
  area for the improvement of environmental water quality or                   
  sanitation problems.  He said he would have to find out past                 
  appropriations for Anchorage, but his recollection was that                  
  Anchorage spent minimal amounts on water quality issues and                  
  had focused funding on extensions of Local Improvement                       
  Districts and treatment processes at the Point Margo plant.                  
                                                                               
  Number 456                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL said there had been a few other efforts to                     
  clean up Anchorage streams.  He pointed out the Water Watch                  
  statewide program enlisted volunteer groups, and that an                     
  effort was being made to have all major streams in the                       
  Anchorage bowl adopted by these groups.  Secondly, he said                   
  the fecal coliform number that the state used was about ten                  
  times less than the national number.  Rumor was that this                    
  number had been a typographical error and that error                         
  declared many of the streams polluted, he added.  This error                 
  was being looked at and a decision was pending in the water                  
  quality standards to correct the error.                                      
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL assured the committee that those streams in                    
  the Anchorage area were being looked at, and an agreement                    
  had been made to list the polluted water bodies statewide                    
  and provide a regulatory plan to return those water bodies                   
  to water quality standard.  Within the Anchorage area and                    
  other urban areas, he predicted that sewers and septic tanks                 
  on the hillsides would become a water quality issue.  He                     
  felt the DEC needed long-term solutions for these                            
  situations.                                                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE MULDER said village safe water was a big                      
  problem, and applauded the DEC's efforts in urban areas as                   
  well, because not only were the signs embarrassing for                       
  visitors, but it was also a health hazard.  He agreed long-                  
  term solutions needed to be addressed and funded, especially                 
  better and expanded sewage systems.                                          
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL said the assessment program mentioned earlier                  
  was a capital budget item this year (1993) in the amount of                  
  $300,000.                                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 510                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if any seafood or health                         
  inspections on offshore vessels or operations were being                     
  done.                                                                        
                                                                               
  MS. BALLENTINE said any vessel that came into an Alaskan                     
  port was permitted by the DEC and inspections were done                      
  while those vessels were in port.  She said further that the                 
  DEC did not have the capability for inspections on fishing                   
  grounds.                                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON pointed out that by the time the                       
  product came into port it had already been processed.                        
                                                                               
  MS. BALLENTINE concurred.                                                    
                                                                               
  Number 524                                                                   
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL pointed out the DEC had held up the shipment                   
  of products in some situations in the past.                                  
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said the bottom fish operation by the                  
  Puget Sound fleet was of major concern to him.  He wanted to                 
  know its effect on the Alaskan economy and whether the                       
  product was well inspected.                                                  
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL said besides seafood inspection, vessels must                  
  also comply with oil and water laws.  He disclosed the DEC                   
  had asked the EPA to ensure inshore facilities and offshore                  
  processors would comply with the same grinding, air quality,                 
  and discharge requirements.  He said enforcement efforts in                  
  cooperation with the Coast Guard had been stepped up                         
  regarding processors within the three mile limit to make                     
  sure those processors held state permits.                                    
                                                                               
  Number 542                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON said he had worked with oil spill                      
  prevention laws and was aware of the need for contingency                    
  plans for non-crude operators.  He wanted to know if a plan                  
  was being developed and when that plan would be completed.                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR disclosed a contingency plan was in the works, but                 
  financial responsibility continued to be a problem.                          
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON asked if the governor had vetoed the                   
  bill which gave assistance to small operators.                               
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said the bill suspending financial responsibility                  
  had passed.                                                                  
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL added that either in that bill or other                        
  language, the legislature had requested a legislative                        
  research group to come up with a report with the DEC on that                 
  bill, and a letter of intent was pending.  He was scheduled                  
  to meet in Anchorage with members of the insurance committee                 
  that might have found a solution, he noted.                                  
                                                                               
  Number 563                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON voiced concern about the Clean Air Act                 
  and asked if the air quality bill introduced in the Senate                   
  would reflect the administration's view.                                     
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said the "Air Quality Permit Bill" was a product                   
  of a DEC appointed interim committee.  She said proposed                     
  changes to [AS].O10 language had not been added to the bill,                 
  and [AS].O10 contained very broad statutory language which                   
  allowed the DEC to regulate air pollutants to protect public                 
  health.  She pointed out there was concern that the DEC                      
  would use this provision unfairly to regulate air                            
  contaminants.  The statute had been on the books since 1971                  
  when the DEC was established and it had only been used twice                 
  outside of what had been required by the federal law.  One                   
  was to regulate ammonia discharge from the Unical plant in                   
  the Kenai.  The plant was one of the largest ammonia plants                  
  in North America and ammonia was not one of the regulated                    
  substances under the federal act.                                            
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR stated the other instance in which the statute was                 
  used regarded Government Hill in Anchorage, where a tank                     
  farm sat below a bluff.  Because the tanks were owned by                     
  separate owners, it escaped regulation under the federal                     
  act, so the DEC used [AS].010 to regulate benzine emissions                  
  from Government Hill.  She said the public was very                          
  concerned about health issues in this situation and a                        
  compromise had been made in the proposed legislation.  The                   
  environmental community and some industrial groups had been                  
  opposed to the addition of [AS].010 language and, therefore,                 
  it had been left out.  She felt that including [AS].010                      
  language could end the consensus that all parties had worked                 
  so hard to reach.                                                            
                                                                               
  MR. TREADWELL added the DEC had kept their commitment to the                 
  interim committee to deliver to the legislature the proposed                 
  "Air Quality Permit Bill".  He said the DEC's commissioner                   
  had approached the committee with some questions regarding                   
  the proposed bill and the [AS].010 issue could be brought up                 
  again before the committee.  He felt some parts of [AS].010                  
  language were important to consider, if not in this bill,                    
  but in other places such as a scientific advisory group.  He                 
  said the DEC supported the concept of a scientific advisory                  
  group.                                                                       
                                                                               
  Number 615                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE CON BUNDE commended the DEC on actively                       
  pursuing malicious polluters.  He asked for a briefing when                  
  the DEC addressed the problems with operation CHARIOT.  He                   
  also asked for an explanation of the resource funding going                  
  to the Department of Veterans and Foreign Affairs.                           
                                                                               
  Number 637                                                                   
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said when the response legislation was passed                      
  after the Exxon Valdez accident, responsibility was divided                  
  between the DEC and the Division of Emergency Services which                 
  was in the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs                       
  (DMVA), for responding to an oil spill.  The DEC was given                   
  authority to do the contingency planning, the financial                      
  responsibility, and the DMVA was given the responsibility                    
  for statewide training depots and corps, she added.                          
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE BUNDE asked if and when a federal EPA office                  
  was located in Alaska how it would impact the DEC in regard                  
  to duplication of effort and regulations.                                    
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR hoped the DEC and the EPA would meet, divide                       
  responsibilities and work more efficiently together.  She                    
  explained that because of the EPA's Seattle location, the                    
  DEC was often forced to duplicate the EPA's efforts to                       
  insure all information was gathered and that such                            
  information was correct.                                                     
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the formation of the EPA's                     
  District 11 would provide the EPA with more information on                   
  Alaska's problems.                                                           
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR felt if the EPA's Regional Administrator and the                   
  decision-makers were Alaskans, it would be more likely that                  
  they would have information for the circumstances dealt with                 
  here in Alaska.                                                              
                                                                               
  Tape 93-5, Side A                                                            
  Number 000                                                                   
                                                                               
  REPRESENTATIVE GREEN asked if the DEC in its biological lab,                 
  in conjunction with the Department of Health, handled                        
  hepatitis screening.                                                         
                                                                               
  MS. ADAIR said during an outbreak, the DEC could be involved                 
  in testing, but the primary responsibility for humans was                    
  handled by the Department of Health and Social Services.                     
                                                                               

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