Legislature(1993 - 1994)

02/14/1994 08:15 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SJR 40 - URGE CONGRESS TO AMEND OIL POLLUTION LAW                            
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS told committee members they had passed HJR
  49 several weeks ago, which urged the federal Minerals                       
  Management Service (MMS) to interpret definitions in the Oil                 
  Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA `90) as narrowly as possible in                   
  promulgating their regulations under the financial                           
  responsibility sections of OPA '90.                                          
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS said SJR 40 addresses the same concerns,                   
  but covers another angle of the problem by addressing the                    
  concerns to Congress.  He encouraged members to use the                      
  hearing to refresh their memories about the issues involved                  
  with the OPA `90 regulations, because the committee would be                 
  meeting with the MMS officials the next day to discuss                       
  Number 028                                                                   
  SENATOR DRUE PEARCE, PRIME SPONSOR, SJR 40, stated SJR 40                    
  takes a different tack than HJR 49 did.  In December, the                    
  Energy Council passed a resolution in favor of changes to                    
  the OPA `90 financial responsibility section.  As a part of                  
  that, and after meetings with people from the MMS, the                       
  Executive Committee had a draft resolution drawn up and SJR
  40 follows the lines of that resolution.  She said even                      
  though MMS would like to interpret the OPA `90 restrictions                  
  and regulations innovatively, the law says there is a $150                   
  million financial responsibility for every facility.  Those                  
  facilities are offshore facilities but include anything that                 
  is in, under or on any U.S. navigable or territorial water.                  
  Therein, lies the problem.                                                   
  Number 045                                                                   
  SENATOR PEARCE pointed out that MMS cannot change the                        
  definition because it will then filter down onto some of                     
  their other regulations.  It is believed that Congress will                  
  ultimately need to change that section of the bill.  SJR 40                  
  requests that Congress act now before the financial                          
  responsibility section has negative effects on Alaska                        
  businesses.  She noted the Energy Council has it's spring                    
  meeting in Washington, D.C., every year and the first                        
  weekend in March she will be attending that meeting.  She                    
  added there will be a meeting with the Alaska Congressional                  
  delegation.  She hoped to present both resolutions to the                    
  delegation and have a discussion directly with them, along                   
  with a meeting at the Department of Interior and the                         
  Department of Energy.  Senator Pearce stated she planned to                  
  present both resolutions into public record on Wednesday.                    
  Number 070                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE DAVID FINKELSTEIN asked Senator Pearce to                     
  explain why the two resolutions are not redundant.                           
  SENATOR PEARCE replied that Representative Green's and her                   
  staff chose different language.  The Administration feels                    
  the two resolutions are very complimentary and feels                         
  comfortable with having both resolutions taking a different                  
  tack.  She noted that the MMS people have been asking for a                  
  way to interpret the definition in some manner in which they                 
  can make the regulations more palatable for states like                      
  REPRESENTATIVE FINKELSTEIN thought that if there are two                     
  measures on the same subject, the first one passes and the                   
  other one disappears.                                                        
  SENATOR PEARCE stated the two resolutions are on the same                    
  subject, but take different tacks.                                           
  Number 091                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE JOE GREEN explained the final cure has to be                  
  through Congress which can sometimes be a slow, methodical                   
  process.  If the state can suppress MMS to not implement the                 
  rigid regulations, (interpreting the definition in the                       
  broadest possible sense) through HJR 49 and then allow SJR
  40 to get to Congress, the state will prevent a period of                    
  time when the regulations might be enacted before the law is                 
  REPRESENTATIVE BILL HUDSON felt both resolutions are                         
  complimentary.  He asked Senator Pearce if she had asked the                 
  Congressional delegation of the probability of having                        
  Congress act on changes of OPA `90.                                          
  SENATOR PEARCE replied she had discussed the issue primarily                 
  with Senator Steven's office.  She said all Congressional                    
  delegations are reticent to go back into OPA `90, but they                   
  understand that it is not just an Alaska problem or a                        
  wetlands problem, it is a problem in every state.  She                       
  pointed out that the broad way MMS is interpreting the                       
  definition, it will include many airports throughout the                     
  country, gas stations, etc.  She did not think that is what                  
  Congress intended and added that Congress has admitted that                  
  is not what they intended.                                                   
  SENATOR PEARCE remarked that MMS believes they need to go to                 
  Congress with clear definitions of the actual economic                       
  problems which the strict interpretation will cause.  She                    
  said the final response from the state will be delivered to                  
  MMS in testimony on Wednesday.                                               
  Number 131                                                                   
  REPRESENTATIVE HUDSON made a motion to MOVE CSSJR 40(RES)                    
  with a fiscal note out of committee with INDIVIDUAL                          
  CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS asked if there were any objections to the                  
  motion.  Hearing none, the MOTION PASSED.                                    
  (CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS noted for the record that REPRESENTATIVE                  
  GREEN joined the committee at 8:25 a.m.)                                     

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