Legislature(1997 - 1998)
02/26/1998 01:15 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HJR 56 - YTTRIUM MINING Number 1740 CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON announced the next order of business was House Joint Resolution No. 56, Relating to yttrium mining and transfer of the linear induction motor research vehicle to Alaska. CO-CHAIRMAN HUDSON, sponsor of HJR 56, stated the resolution urges the Federal Railroad Administration to transfer the Linear Induction Motor Research Vehicle (LIMRV) to the state for testing and research. The transfer would allow for the potential development of a new industrial and research business in Alaska. It could revitalize the Ketchikan area after the loss of the pulp mill. Yttrium, a rare earth element, would be mined on the Prince of Wales Island and processed in Ketchikan. Currently, yttrium is imported from overseas. In addition, the Power Superconductor Applications Company is proposing local employment in mining and refining, as well as in converting the LIMRV. No state funding would be requested. Number 1836 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a motion to adopt HJR 56 (0-LS1533\A) for testimony. There being no objection, it was so adopted. Number 1851 JOHN PEARSON stated he has a small company called Alaska Economic Development Partnerships. During the past 22 years he has been involved in fostering many economic development efforts as a former employee of the state (Department of Commerce and Economic Development) and as a practitioner and advocate for orderly economic development. The opportunity placed before the state - as a cooperative partnership between Ketchikan, Saxman, the state, and federal government - would be very unique and offer a number of opportunities. The major areas of the project would be mining, refining, manufacturing, and research. Mining would take place as soon as the vehicle is transferred from the federal government to the state. Alaska is very fortunate that Dr. Steven Kuznetsov of Power Superconductor Applicants Company stepped forward and offered to bring part of this industry to the region. It would give the state a strong base in southern Southeast well into the twenty- first century. It would provide a number of jobs that the area has not had in the past and a number of training opportunities. The vehicle would be transferred to Ketchikan/Saxman and retrofitted under the technical supervision of the Power Superconductor Applications Company. Thus, the support of the legislature to urge the federal government to transfer the vehicle is important. He urged the committee members to support the resolution. Number 2003 STEVEN KUZNETSOV, President and Chairman, Power Superconductor Applications Company, Incorporated, testified via teleconference in Pennsylvania. The corporation has been involved in the design and manufacture of high-speed linear induction machines used for launching aircraft and transit industry, for example. Mr. Kuznetsov started his career in 1974 as a design engineer on the LIMRV. It obtained a world record for ground speed at 255 miles per hour by using a copper and steel-base propulsion system. It does not rely on the adhesion of steel wheels to a steel rail. It relies on electromagnetic propulsion. Within the last three years the country has learned, with the help of the scientists at Los Alamos in New Mexico, how to produce an yttrium-base superconductor. The United States government owns a number of patents in this area and the Power Superconductor Applications Company owns a number of patents on the final application technology. In 1997, Los Alamos produced yttrium-base superconductors to be used for electric utility apparatuses - fault limiters and transmission lines - prototype motors, and generators using a high-temperature superconductor and building technology to allow electricity to operate at 99 percent efficiency. The LIMRV would allow the industry to develop a propulsion systems using yttrium. Part of the project would include manufacturing and research facilities in Southeast Alaska to produce products such as fault limiters. The company eventually sees manufacturing an advanced linear induction braking system for the railroad industry, and the Navy's aircraft catapults. Number 2166 DICK COOSE, Assembly Member, Ketchikan Gateway Borough, announced the borough fully supports HJR 56. It would be a great opportunity to develop a new business in town. The release of the LIMRV to Alaska is the first step. Number 2189 BOB WEINSTEIN, Mayor, city of Ketchikan, urged the committee members to support HJR 56. With the closure of the major employer in Ketchikan last year, the city is aggressively looking for economic opportunities to help diversify its economy. The project represents potential and the city would work closely with Dr. Kuznetsov to see how it would translate into mining, manufacturing, and scientific research jobs in Ketchikan thereby benefiting the entire state. The resolution is a very important step in transferring the research vehicle to the state. Number 2256 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a motion and asked unanimous consent to move HJR 56 (0-LS1533\A) from the committee with individual recommendations and the attached zero fiscal note. There being no objection, HJR 56 moved from the House Resources Standing Committee.