Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/18/1996 08:13 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 537 - DIV. OF MINING AND GEOLOGY/ STATE GEOLOGIST                        
 Number 544                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN announced the next order of business would be HB
 537, "An Act renaming the Division of Geological and Geophysical              
 Surveys in the Department of Natural Resources as the department's            
 Division of Mining and Geology, and revising the duties of the                
 state geologist within that division; and providing for an                    
 effective date."  He stated the bill would combine the Division of            
 Geological and Geophysical Surveys with the Division of Mining and            
 Water Management as a cost cutting venture.  Last year, the state             
 geologist position was not funded and, currently, the division is             
 serving without a state geologist.                                            
 Number 604                                                                    
 JEFF LOGAN, Legislative Assistant to Representative Joe Green, read           
 the following statement into the record:                                      
 "House Bill 537 establishes in the Department of Natural Resources,           
 the Division of Mining and Geology.  Earlier this year an attempt             
 was made to transfer DGGS (Division of Geological and Geophysical             
 Surveys) into the Division of Oil and Gas, and while we concur that           
 the cost of state government can be effectively accomplished -- or            
 lower cost of state government can be effectively accomplished by             
 combinations of certain agencies.  Combining DGGS with DOG would              
 have been an inappropriate combination."                                      
 "The use of DGGS personnel to perform DOG oil and gas presale                 
 analysis, as indicated by recent testimony by the DOG, would have             
 been an improper use, we believe, of DGGS personnel.  We believe              
 that such activities, through that proposed combination, would not            
 only violate state statute, but lead to ultimate dissolution of               
 DGGS functions through the absorption in the DOG.                             
 "Budget reductions have reduced funding to the DGGS and combining             
 it with another division is appropriate, but only if it is                    
 functions are preserved and its personnel are appropriately                   
 confined to the functions delineated in AS 41.08.  Combining DGGS             
 with the Division of Mining and Water not only ensures statutory              
 compliance of its activities, but also its survival."                         
 Number 730                                                                    
 JERRY BOOTH, Alaska Geologic Mapping and Advisory Board, Division             
 of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Department of Natural                  
 Resources, testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  He                   
 explained that the board was established in 1994, by former                   
 Commissioner Noah, as an advisory group to the Division of                    
 Geological and Geophysical Surveys.  With the new Administration,             
 the advisory board offered to Commissioner Shively a recommendation           
 that the board look at the future of the Division of Geological and           
 Geophysical Surveys' mission, goal and function into the future on            
 how to improve its effectiveness and then provide a report                    
 outlining these findings.  This effort was lead by Dr. David Hite,            
 a member of the advisory board.  He established a select committee            
 of geologists and engineers representing all users of the DGGS.               
 Number 791                                                                    
 MR. BOOTH explained that throughout 1995, the select committee held           
 numerous meetings and public hearings to gain as much information             
 as possible.  He indicated a report was prepared in which the                 
 committee should have a copy of.  The report contained numerous               
 recommendations the committee made to the advisory board.  Late in            
 1995, the advisory board approved their recommendations and                   
 provided these to Commissioner Shively.                                       
 MR. BOOTH related that some of the recommendations included keeping           
 the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys intact and                 
 expand its role to include a presence in Anchorage by the state               
 geologist; to conduct a nationwide search for a new state                     
 geologist; provide a five year term for the position to make it a             
 nonpolitical position to maintain its scientific integrity;                   
 recombine the hydrologist function back to DGGS; and to reinstate             
 basin analysis and oil and gas functions back to the survey.  He              
 said all of these recommendations and ones not discussed, were to             
 maintain the DGGS as an independent group within the current Alaska           
 Statute AS 41.08.                                                             
 Number 870                                                                    
 MR. BOOTH stated that the intent and the recommendations of the               
 advisory board regarding the DGGS is, respectfully, much different            
 that those proposed in HB 537.  He said they feel that the                    
 combining of DGGS with the Division of Mining and the removing of             
 the requirement to have the state geologist run the DGGS is not in            
 the best interest of the users of the state.  The recommendations             
 of the advisory board are well stated in the report and they look             
 to this legislature to retain the current mission, role and                   
 function of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.               
 MR. BOOTH pointed out that for a quarter of a century, Alaska has             
 had a geological survey and it has functioned very well under AS              
 41.08.  The advisory board of the DGGS respectfully requests that             
 the House Resources Committee reconsider HB 537 and retain the DGGS           
 as an independent division.  He thanked the committee for the                 
 opportunity to testify.                                                       
 Number 940                                                                    
 DR. DAVID HITE, Member, Alaska Geologic Mapping Advisory Board                
 Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Department of                 
 Natural Resources, testified via teleconference from Anchorage.  He           
 stated that he echoed the comments made by Mr. Booth and was                  
 strongly concerned about the requirements put fourth in HB 537 to             
 eliminate the qualifications for the state geologist.  He offered             
 his assistance in answering questions relating to the report.                 
 Number 1006                                                                   
 TOM CRAFFORD, representing the Alaska Miners Association and the              
 North Pacific Mining Corporation, a subsidiary of Cook Inlet                  
 Region, Incorporated, testified via teleconference from Anchorage.            
 He said that he is a mineral exploration geologist and has been               
 active in the state since 1974.  He stated he is well acquainted              
 with the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys and the               
 role it plays in Alaska.  He stated he is respectful and                      
 appreciative of the service that DGGS has provided over the years,            
 and he feels that its function needs to be preserved.  Mr. Crafford           
 stated he is similarly in support of the Division of Mining and               
 Water Management.  He indicated he has had good working                       
 relationship with them over the years.  He noted he doesn't want              
 his comments to be construed as any statement against the Division            
 of Mining and Water Management.  It is, therefore, with reluctance            
 that he must express my opposition to HB 537.                                 
 MR. CRAFFORD said he potentially fears that HB 537 could politicize           
 the DGGS and it remove some of the statutorily mandated elements              
 that established the division and preserves the academic and                  
 technical role that it was created to play.  Mr. Crafford said HB
 537 would create a geological (indisc.) which he fears could                  
 potentially become geological and geophysical survey in name only.            
 It would relegate the position of state geologist to a subdirector            
 level position and remove any educational or experience of                    
 qualifications for that position.  He said those and other                    
 provisions of HB 537 could weaken the protection for the objective            
 by (indisc.) regulatory role that was originally established for              
 DGGS.  He said he feels that in a resource rich state like Alaska             
 that it is especially important to preserve the current functions             
 of the DGGS, particularly in light of recent federal budget                   
 reductions that eliminated the Bureau of Mines and severely                   
 impacted the U. S. Geological Survey.  He stated he endorses the              
 recommendations of the Alaska Geologic Mapping Advisory Board which           
 advocates the retention of a strong and independent division.                 
 Number 1170                                                                   
 SUSAN KARL, Officer, Alaska Geological Society (AGS), testified via           
 teleconference.  She explained the AGS membership includes                    
 professionals from oil and gas companies, mining companies,                   
 environmental contractors, Native corporations, universities,                 
 governmental agencies - statewide and outside of Alaska.  She said            
 she would focus on two main concerns.  One, is that Alaska is a               
 resource state and it is important to keep regulatory functions               
 separate from research functions.  The state's economic health                
 depends on natural resources and the state also has significant               
 geological hazards such as earthquakes, volcanoes, environmental              
 hazards associated with human activities and the development of               
 transportation and resources.  If any state needs a strong, dynamic           
 and independent geological survey, it is Alaska.                              
 MS. KARL referred to the second concern and said it also essential            
 and critical that the state's leaders have solid scientific                   
 knowledge as a basis for their constantly evolving policy                     
 decisions.  The state's health and welfare depend on these                    
 decisions.  HB 537 makes Alaska's state geologist a political                 
 appointee with no required scientific credentials.  It is                     
 unthinkable that Alaska's leaders would be making resource and                
 environmental policy decisions without information from a                     
 scientifically qualified state geologist.                                     
 MS. KARL said in conclusion, Alaska needs an independent, dynamic             
 and adequately funded geological survey and a knowledgeable,                  
 credible and respected state geologist to contribute to informed              
 decisions by state policy makers.  She thanked the committee for              
 listening to her testimony.                                                   
 Number 1295                                                                   
 RICH HUGHES, Chairman, Fairbanks Branch, Alaska Miners Association,           
 testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.  He asked to go on               
 record opposing HB 537.  He stated that the combination won't                 
 work.  The minerals industry is reviving in the state very strongly           
 and this bill is sending the wrong message.                                   
 Number 1324                                                                   
 ROGER BURGGRAF, Miner, testified via teleconference from Fairbanks.           
 He asked to go on record opposing HB 537.  He said he realizes                
 times are tough and cuts in government need to be made.  The                  
 Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys is a technical,                
 scientific agency with a statutorily mandated mission.  To have it            
 absorbed into a regulatory agency would weaken effect of their                
 mission.  The work that DGGS has done over the years has been very            
 beneficial, not only to the state of Alaska, but to industry.  With           
 the downsizing of the federal government, it is even more important           
 that Alaska, as a resource state, maintain DGGS in its present                
 format.  It is important that DGGS maintain its scientific                    
 integrity.  The reports that DGGS has done has encouraged                     
 investments of millions of dollars into the state of Alaska.  Mr.             
 Burggraf requested that the committee reconsider its position with            
 respect to HB 537.                                                            
 HELEN WARNER, Member, Alaska Miners Association, testified via                
 teleconference from Anchorage.  She noted she is a graduate of the            
 University of Alaska with a degree in mathematics.  Ms. Warner said           
 she doesn't think it is in the best interest of either the industry           
 or the state for the DGGS to be subordinated or included into the             
 Division of Mining.  It is no diminution of the role of the                   
 Division of Mining.  She said she supports the testimony of Jerry             
 Booth, David Hite and Tom Crafford.  She said she believes the DGGS           
 has a mission and it is to all the people in the state and several            
 other (indisc.) precise mineral industry.  Ms. Warner urged the               
 committee members not to pass HB 537.                                         
 Number 1480                                                                   
 EARL BEISTLINE was next to testify from Fairbanks.  He stated he is           
 a life-long Alaskan with the sole professional career in Alaska's             
 mineral education and mining industry fields.  He said he supports            
 the previous testimony of Jerry Booth, David Hite and Tom Crafford.           
 He referred to the recommendations made by the Alaska Geological              
 Mapping Advisory Board and said they are very important and need to           
 be considered in detail and in their entirety.                                
 MR. BEISTLINE said he would suggest the present organization of the           
 Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys remain an                      
 independent agency as it is at the present time for the benefit of            
 Alaska and its people.  It is an agency that offers a fundamental             
 service to the economy of the state and identification of                     
 geological hazards for appropriate resolution and safety of its               
 people overall.                                                               
 MR. BEISTLINE said it is his opinion that any streamlining of DGGS            
 or a combination of other agencies for reducing costs of operation            
 of state agencies should be carefully studied in depth in concert             
 with appropriate personnel of Natural Resource agencies,                      
 legislators, state administrators and private industry.  He said a            
 strong Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys agency is an            
 important foundation stone for the further enhancement of the                 
 state's minerals resource.  He said that concludes his statement.             
 Number 1615                                                                   
 NICO BUS, Acting Director, Division of Support Services, Department           
 of Natural Resources, came forward to give his testimony.  He said            
 he wanted to comment that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR)           
 cannot support HB 537.  He said basically, when DNR deliberated the           
 introduction of Executive Order 92, the department tried to                   
 implement as many of the Alaska Geologic Mapping Advisory Board's             
 recommendations as possible.  Although it was not a perfect fit,              
 they felt that Executive Order 92 met this purpose.  House Bill               
 537, as proposed, strips many of the requirements the DGGS needs              
 and the department cannot support it.                                         
 Number 1663                                                                   
 MR. BUS distributed departmental sectional analysis outlining DNR's           
 points section by section.  Also, administratively and budgetarily,           
 currently the department feels the Division of Mining is still                
 struggling with the combination with the Division of Water that               
 came about two years ago.  He indicated the department doesn't feel           
 it is appropriate at this time to combine the DGGS and the Division           
 of Mining and Water.                                                          
 Number 1692                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN referred to Executive Order 92 and said the                 
 attitude was that because there wasn't a state geologist position,            
 as it had been defunded last year, the DNR wanted to combine the              
 Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys with the Division of           
 Oil and Gas.                                                                  
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN stated, "At the hearing of in front of the Oil              
 and Gas Special Committee that one of the functions that would be             
 done by DGGS would be to do presale analysis DOG and it was my                
 feeling, and I so testified at that meeting, that that was step one           
 of doing exactly what we've heard today as the objections to                  
 combining it with the Division of Mines -- that it would erode the            
 statutory requirements of the DGGS.  And so I submit to you that by           
 combining them, if they cannot exist without a state geologist,               
 which that function has been defunded, then they are far better off           
 with Division of Mines and Water because they then by the very                
 implement that would create that required to maintain and do those            
 functions outlined in statute and not get involved in another                 
 division's activities.  And so what I'm hearing as the objection              
 going in to the Division of Mines is the very purpose that it's               
 going there to prevent anything - any erosion of their functions,             
 delusions that might come about by a more powerful or better funded           
 division.  And so that's the very reason that it was there.  Plus             
 the fact that if you look at the description of the duties of the             
 Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, their functions fit           
 exactly with what the Division of Mining needs -- hard rock                   
 minerals, tectonics, because along faults that is where                       
 mineralization occurs.  I mean it's nothing to do -- it's not even            
 mentioned other than was mentioned once before that fuel is used in           
 one word description of the things that they look at.  But no where           
 is oil and gas mentioned, and yet, it was the department's decision           
 that they should be merged with Oil and Gas Division.  And I'm                
 submitting that they far better matched with the Mining Division,             
 and their functions would be much better protected.  I champion               
 that.  I think it would be a travesty if we lost the functions as             
 outlined in statute, and that's exactly what this bill does.  It              
 maintains those functions."                                                   
 Number 1830                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES respectfully submitted that House Bill 537 is           
 equivalent to discussions during the Vietnam War era in having to             
 destroy the village in order to save it.  He said he thinks this              
 combination is a far worse match than the proposed one with oil and           
 gas.  He said if we're not going to do the oil and gas one, then we           
 ought to just leave it alone.  While the state geologist position             
 has been defunded, there still is an individual in the state survey           
 who is currently the acting state geologist, who is by training and           
 experience very qualified to be the state geologist.  I think the             
 division would be far better, under a reduced budget, to simply               
 stay as it is to designate that individual as the state geologist             
 with no increase in funds for the division.                                   
 Number 1880                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said, "We went down this path - what was it             
 about ten years ago and made this combination, at one time, and it            
 was discovered to be unworkable.  We've also had the testimony of             
 a representative sample of the `who's who' in the mining world and            
 the geology world; both from the companies, from the private                  
 sector, from the university, people who have had experience in the            
 university world and people who had experience in the regulatory              
 world of mining and people who have had experience in the areas               
 that the state survey is statutorily charged to function.  And out            
 of that testimony, one of the particular things that this bill                
 seems to ignore is that DGGS has a mission far broader than just              
 mining.  I mean that's certainly is, I think, its `flag ship                  
 mission,' but that it's much more than that.  It's involved in the            
 analysis where gravel is, it has been involved in land selections             
 and making land selections.  The state survey was one of the key              
 institutions that selected some of the most productive petroleum              
 rich land in the state of Alaska, in terms of land selection                  
 process.  So, to suggest that there is no match with oil and gas or           
 no necessity for them to maintain expertise in the basis analysis,            
 I think, is short sighted.  It ignores the past and it is short               
 sighted with respect to the future."                                          
 Number 1955                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said that we've been down this path before.             
 We know that it's a mistake from history and the testimony.  There            
 is unanimous opposition from a representative sample of "Who's Who"           
 in the mining and mineral industry in the state of Alaska.  He                
 suggested that the bill be put into a subcommittee and rethink how            
 this proposal might fit into the Hite report.                                 
 C0-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Representative Davies if he is familiar               
 with the description of the duties of the division as in statute.             
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES indicated he was familiar with the duties.              
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if water and groundwater is one of the                
 issues that the division is charged with reviewing and tabulating.            
 He also asked it that isn't, in fact, the name of the division that           
 would be going in.  So, it is not just mining, it is mining and               
 water and both of those are prime functions specified in the                  
 description of the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.            
 Co-Chairman Green said he maintains, again, it is a fear, it is a             
 speculation that they - going into a different regulatory body,               
 that their functions would be lost.  While, in open testimony, it             
 was stated that part of their functions would be lost if they were            
 combined with the Division of Oil and Gas.                                    
 Number 2026                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES contended, "Mr, Chairman, I think that is a             
 red herring.  I opposed the combination with oil and gas. I don't             
 think that's a good idea either.  I voted, as you recall, to over             
 turn 92.  I think that, yes, I agree with you that reading the                
 statute, I think the hydrological functions ought to be put back              
 into the state survey, but the issue of regulatory agency and a               
 research oriented agency like DGGS statutory supposed to be, is the           
 paramount issue here in my mind.  That's why the merger failed in             
 `86 and that's why many many people opposed it then and continue to           
 oppose it now.  It's simply an inappropriate mix."                            
 Number 2048                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said he was referring to the fact that                      
 Representative Davis had stated in his prior testimony that he                
 thought that it would be better in DOG.  Co-Chairman Green said he            
 would maintain that Representative Davies indicated it would be               
 better in the Division of Oil and Gas and he would maintain that              
 there is a better fit with the Division of Mines and Water.                   
 Number 2070                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN asked for more details about the                    
 reference to the past merger of the two agencies.                             
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN commented, "That is correct, briefly.  Different            
 breed of cast, different attitude and it wasn't Division of Mines             
 and Water then, it was the Division of Mines.  There was an attempt           
 made because -- while the testimony today has been unanimously                
 against this, there are several out there involved with these who             
 thought it was a good idea then, still think it is a good idea."              
 Number 2112                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Mr. Bus to inform the committee what the              
 cost would be to reinstall the state geologist to make the division           
 whole again.                                                                  
 Number 2127                                                                   
 MR. BUS said the director's salary is about $90,000.  In the                  
 budget, to accommodate Executive Order No. 92, they felt there was            
 some efficiency by merging the two divisions and sharing                      
 administrative staff.  To recreate the director of the Division of            
 Geology, you would need a director plus some support staff, so you            
 are talking about $150,000, including benefits.                               
 Number 2155                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said, "To your chagrin, as well as mine, that               
 budgeting was felt everywhere - budget cuts, and one of those,                
 obviously, was the state geologist last year.  A prior commissioner           
 of the Department of Natural Resources used to use the phrase                 
 that's kind of like `eating your seed corn,' to which I do                    
 subscribe.  Nonetheless, the division was cut and the state                   
 geologist position was lost and the concern, expressed by both the            
 Department of Natural Resources and myself, is that without a state           
 geologist, it is a vulnerable position and it has been cut.  And              
 part of the funding there to try and get outside funding as well              
 and I think they have to some degree."                                        
 Number 2195                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN emphasized that Representative Davies has                   
 indicated that HB 537 should go into a subcommittee.  He said if he           
 thought it would go to a subcommittee for constructive purposes, he           
 might be so inclined.  He said he is afraid that it will be a                 
 subcommittee to death.                                                        
 Number 2212                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAM K. "BILL" WILLIAMS reminded Representative                
 Davies that this issue has been before the committee for quite some           
 time.  He pointed out that Representative Davies did vote against             
 the executive order.  He asked him if he could you give the                   
 committee some ideas as to how he thinks this should be done.                 
 Number 2224                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES responded, "I think that I, pretty well,                
 outlined it.  I don't think that either one of the mergers is                 
 appropriate I think, you know, the comment from the previous                  
 commissioner about `eating your seed corn' couldn't be more aptly             
 demonstrated by the -- I think it can only be described as a `gold            
 rush' that's going on in the Fairbanks area, right now and north of           
 the Alaska range, all the way to McGrath, all around.  As a result,           
 I think as a direct result of the aero magnetic program that the              
 state survey heads up and is carried out under capital funding from           
 the state legislature.  I think that's only one excellent example             
 of the kind of strong work that's important to our economic future            
 that results from having leadership from a strong state geologist."           
 Number 2266                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES continued, "A second one in the news today,             
 there are scientists on the ground at Akutan Volcano, right now,              
 have flown there over the past week to advise whether the village             
 should be evacuated or not.  The geological hazards function, both            
 from the ecological and earthquake hazards, is an important part of           
 that statutory mission.  That's not something that comes under -              
 you know - the heading of `mining' in the state.  And whenever I              
 say that kind of thing, I certainly do not mean to denigrate that.            
 I think that the mining function is extremely important."                     
 Number 2316                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES explained, "There is a philosophical problem            
 and it translates down into a very practical problem in reality               
 when you merge agencies that are supposed to have an objective                
 scientific view about land selections, an objective scientific view           
 about what the real hazards are and a proposal, for example, that             
 might impact some kind of development - to have some objective view           
 about what lands we ought to select for its oil and gas potential,            
 its mineral potential and gravel potential, those kinds of things.            
 There needs to be both the perception and the reality that the                
 advice the state government is getting from that agency is                    
 independent of any advocacy group and independent from any                    
 regulatory concern.  And that's the problem with putting the                  
 geologic mission and the geophysical mission under a regulatory               
 mantle that the Division of Mining has."                                      
 Number 2335                                                                   
 C0-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS said he agrees about not wanting the                     
 legislation stuck in subcommittee, but in view of the opposition              
 this bill is getting from industry, he can't debate the issue.  He            
 said there should be a plan benefitting both industry and the                 
 Administration.  He asked Representative Davies if he had a plan or           
 Number 2381                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he had not responded to a plan, with               
 respect to this particular bill, because he does not believe that             
 this bill is the right way to do it.  He said he would be happy to            
 come back with a plan and noted he doesn't currently have one.  He            
 said his overall view is that among the choices of combining it               
 with oil and gas, combining it with the Division of Mining, or                
 leaving it as it is, he strongly support the status quo.  He said             
 leave it alone as it is.  Representative Davies said he see the               
 legislature designate the person who is acting as the state                   
 geologist to be the state geologist.  He said his preferred                   
 position is to put the $150,000 back in the budget to make it whole           
 again.  Absent that, he would just leave it the way it is.                    
 Number 2431                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN clarified, "In the evaluation discussions, the              
 searching for what could be done, because I do champion the                   
 activities that the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys            
 has been doing.  One of the reasons in the decade preceding this              
 that it was combined when there wasn't the budget crunch that we              
 are suffering now - was told to me that while it is important that            
 a group, a think tank type of division such as DGGS is and should             
 be, the fear of them being involved with a regulatory function                
 where it's pretty much this type of one foot ahead of the other,              
 those don't necessarily go and you can inhibit creative thought if            
 it's over viewed - too much detail and I certainly subscribed to              
 that.  On the other hand, there is the fear always with a strictly            
 theoretical group that they spend more time in theory than they do            
 in action and that there may have been from time to time, I'm not             
 [END OF TAPE]                                                                 
 TAPE 96-36, SIDE B                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN continued, " ....been removed, but another                  
 benefit that would be derived from such a combination as outlined             
 in 537, might be an oversight to just review, on an ongoing basis,            
 what is actually accomplished and what is done in there rather than           
 the reports which to some degree, in the past, has been -- and I              
 think credit was given, done by USGS or done by some federal                  
 agencies, or by university work that then gets published as DGGS              
 report.  And So my point is that if they were combined briefly                
 before, the function that they were combined for, at least for what           
 I am talking about now, apparently was not done - that an oversight           
 could be done and maybe the best thing in all worlds would be that            
 this oversight comes back saying, `Yes, these people are extremely            
 efficient, they use their time to the utmost, they not only should            
 have their state geologist reinstated but they should be funded               
 greater.'  And I think while we, in the majority, are in a cost               
 cutting mode, I do not think it is fair or appropriate to say that            
 we would want to see the demise of a very beneficial, streamlined,            
 well run, efficient organization.  And if that comes back, if fact,           
 then I think you can extricate them from the Division of Mines and            
 reestablish them with their own state geologist far easier from the           
 Division of Mines than it would be if they got embroiled in, as has           
 been said, in presale analysis to the extent that was stated on the           
 record.  And so from that standpoint, I can see the desire to have            
 them ultimately be an independent division.  Right now, there is              
 some cloud, there is certainly, through the division, the                     
 Department of Natural Resources, some indication that there should            
 be merger and I am just submitting to you that for all of those               
 reasons, I think that this merger will accomplish both the                    
 efficiency, the overview and the potential extrication back as an             
 independent agency.  If that is the best thing for the state - far            
 easier than it would be in any other kind of combination.  So, for            
 that reason, I would still strongly support passage of HB 537."               
 Number 110                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES explained, "The oversight and the analysis              
 that you are suggesting might somehow magically occur from a                  
 director of the Division of Mining -- in fact, presently exists               
 from an advisory board that is largely comprised of members of the            
 industry.  DGGS is not an `ivory tower' operation, it is not a                
 `think tank' operation.  It is about the farthest thing from it               
 that you could imagine.  It is a very `rubber meets the road'                 
 practical state agency whose mission is to -- one of its largest              
 functions is to identify sand and gravel resources and that is not            
 `think tank' type of operations.  It's mission is the day-to-day --           
 part of it's involved in the day-to-day advise of whether a village           
 should be evacuated or not.  That's not `think tank,' that's about            
 as urgent a day-to-day kind of mission as you can imagine.  It does           
 require, however, to make those kinds of analyses, to look into the           
 future and to make some assertions about that, it does require some           
 independent analytic ability.  So, that is why it is important to             
 maintain the separation from the regulatory commission."                      
 Number 183                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES continued, "Mr. Chairman, my only -- the                
 reason why I left academia, why I left Columbia University, in New            
 York State, and came back to this state to be a member of the DGGS            
 was precisely because I did not want to be in an `ivory tower'                
 anymore.  Precisely because I wanted to do something that affected            
 the people of the state of Alaska directly, and I felt at that                
 time, and I continue to believe now, that the state survey is one             
 of those agencies that does that.  It's a `rubber meets the road'             
 operation.  It's a very practical application of geological                   
 Number 215                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN explained he isn't an oil, gas or minerals           
 person.  He said he sits in this legislature trying to learn                  
 everything I am supposed to learn and be able to make decisions               
 that are good for the state of Alaska.  He said, "In all due                  
 respect to your knowledge and how you push this through, Mr.                  
 Chairman, in other legislation that has come before this committee            
 I have respected your opinions and I have tried to follow a lot of            
 your leads because you do have the knowledge.  Although, the                  
 testimony that we've had today is also from people that I have a              
 lot of respect for in the industry and so I'm rather torn on this             
 thing right now and I think if we were to go to a vote right now I            
 would have to vote no to move it out of this committee until I have           
 more time to either to talk to these other people or really to                
 understand the issue a little bit more.  But it seems to me that we           
 need a little more time on this."                                             
 Number 235                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked the participants on the teleconference                
 network to rank their preference of the scenarios surrounding the             
 Number 283                                                                    
 MR. BOOTH reiterated that the advisory board recommends that the              
 DGGS stay as it is.  He said it has been operating very                       
 functionally with the acting state geologist.  If it because of               
 budgetary concerns, it has to remain that way, he is sure that the            
 advisory board would concur to that as its number one priority.  He           
 said he thinks that what they are attempting to try to do in the              
 DGGS is to `mount the tires, hit the road and screech a lot of                
 rubber' as has been stated.  The advisory board has been looking              
 very closely at the functions of what DGGS is doing and making very           
 strong suggestions in what they follow through to provide to users            
 of Alaska with geology.  Mr. Booth said that not only includes the            
 mapping, but the seismic and traditional geology that is very                 
 important to try to get the hydro geologic function back in DGGS              
 and, certainly, to expand the (indisc.) and volcanic deserts.  He             
 said he thinks that the advisory group certainly would support                
 having an independent agency.                                                 
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Mr. Booth if he shares the concern that if            
 it were combined that there would some sort of inhibition or some             
 sort of restriction imposed on the normal functions of the DGGS, if           
 the outlines of HB 537 were followed.                                         
 Number 386                                                                    
 MR. BOOTH answered, "Mr. Chairman, yes I think that is what the               
 advisory broad has felt as we've walked through this process the              
 latter part of last year.  There was a lot of discussion very                 
 similar to what we are hearing today on that particular issue and             
 I think there were some very very strong concerns, and we thought             
 the advisory board kind of filled the gap to make sure that we're             
 functioning as we're supposed to.  Your concerns and what would               
 happen with DGGS if it went over to the DOG I think are much the              
 same concerns as we have heard from the advisory board.  Although,            
 we were rest assured from DNR that the particular concern that you            
 had was not going to happen, but as we all know when these get put            
 into different groups, different things happen."                              
 Number 427                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS referred to the situation with the budget and            
 trying to save money and said he thinks this was part of the                  
 Administration's goal and part of the legislature's goal.  He said            
 he would like some input from the industry as to whether they                 
 currently have any ideas.                                                     
 Number 439                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN responded to Representative Williams that            
 he believes the committee just heard their view.  He said, "If we             
 are going to do anything with the budget constraints that we have             
 right now, then just leave it as status quo."                                 
 Number 470                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said that because there is a significant                    
 difference of opinion on HB 537, the legislation will be held over            
 for further discussion.                                                       

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