Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124
01/27/2017 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HJR 5-ENDORSING ANWR LEASING; RELATED ISSUES [Contains discussion of HJR 4] 2:16:03 PM CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON announced that the next order of business would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 5, Urging the United States Congress to pass legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development; urging the United States Department of the Interior to recognize the private property rights of owners of land in and adjacent to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; relating to oil and gas exploration, development, production, and royalties; and relating to renewable and alternative energy technologies. 2:16:24 PM CO-CHAIR TARR moved to adopt the committee substitute (CS) for HJR (AET), Version 30-LS0314\J. There being no objection, Version J was before the committee. 2:16:53 PM REPRESENTATIVE WESTLAKE, sponsor, informed the committee [CSHJR 5(AET)] is a resolution urging Congress to pass legislation to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and gas development. Although subsistence activities are the first priority in this region, jobs are also important, and opening ANWR would be beneficial for Alaska and all of the U.S. Alaska would receive 90 percent of the revenue from bonus payments and royalties from ANWR in the future and - at this time - development will create tens of thousands of jobs. Representative Westlake expressed his constituents' belief that development in ANWR can be done in an environmentally-responsible way. 2:18:28 PM JESSE LOGAN, staff, Representative Dean Westlake, Alaska State Legislature, informed the committee the changes in the committee substitute (CS) brought by the House Special Committee on Arctic Policy, Economic Development, and Tourism (AET) provided clarity on resource availability. On page 2, following line 4, a new WHEREAS was inserted as follows: WHEREAS, in 1998, the United States Geological Survey estimated the central North Slope and 1002 study area combined could contain up to 46,000,000,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas; and MR. LOGAN stated further, on page 3, lines 27 and 28, a change was made as follows: Delete: President Barack Obama's recent action to withdraw millions of acres of land in the Arctic from new offshore oil and gas drilling Insert: the executive action MR. LOGAN said the new line on page 4, lines 4 and 5, read: WHEREAS the executive action threatens future development and national energy security; and MR. LOGAN continued, noting the final change beginning on page 2, line 30, and continuing through page 3, line 3, read: WHEREAS, in December 2016, President Barack Obama, through executive action, closed 125,000,000 acres of the Arctic Ocean, a vast majority of the United States Arctic offshore water, from future leasing consideration, thus preventing extraction of an estimated 27,000,000,000 barrels of oil; and WHEREAS the Alaska Congressional delegation decried the executive action; and MR. LOGAN added that the resolution, if passed by the legislature, would signify a unified voice to Congress and the new administration, that the Alaska State Legislature supports opening the coastal plain of ANWR for oil and gas development. The bill is specific to opening the 1002 Area: urges the U.S. Department of the Interior to recognize the private property rights of landowners in and adjacent to ANWR and the efforts the State of Alaska has made in developing and deploying renewable energy statewide. 2:21:16 PM REPRESENTATIVE PARISH directed attention to page 5, lines 2 and 3, which read: the 90 percent of the oil, gas, and mineral royalties from the federal land in the state that was promised to the state at statehood. REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked where, and in what form, the foregoing promise was made. MR. LOGAN answered that is a reference to the [Alaska Statehood Act, enacted 7/7/58 and effective 1/3/59]. REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER directed attention to page 5, line 1, which read in part: ... any attempt to coerce the state into accepting less than REPRESENTATIVE RAUSHER remarked, That doesn't really mean they could do it on their own if they wanted. That doesn't stop them from doing it on their own if they wanted does it, or how does this read out? I guess I don't understand the, the intent of the language and ... what it really means when you actually adopt it. MR. LOGAN explained that the abovementioned [FURTHER] RESOLVED says that the legislature opposes any unilateral reduction and anything done by the administration to reduce the 90 percent as promised at statehood. REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked: It may be more of a question for [legislative legal services] but ... based on some of our interactions with the federal government in the past, how certain are we that we would ... win in court ... were there an attempt to coerce us into accepting less than the full value we were promised at statehood? REPRESENTATIVE WESTLAKE recalled that the state recently exchanged a huge amount of land in order to get a little [federal] parcel and gain security. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH expressed his support for the bill. 2:25:04 PM CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON opened public testimony on CSHJR 5(AET). 2:25:16 PM LIN DAVIS informed the committee she is a 24-year resident of Alaska, a retired state worker, and she strongly supports permanently protecting ANWR. She said there is a misperception that everyone in Alaska supports developing ANWR; however, she prefers no development in the coastal plain or in the 1002 Area. In 2002, she spent time on the Kongakut River in ANWR and in Arctic Village where she heard the mayor speak of the land and the fears of the Gwich'in people for the caribou. Ms. Davis said Americans have a duty to protect the Gwich'in homeland, and opined ANWR should become a [UNESCO] World Heritage Site as one of the last places Native people can live a subsistence lifestyle. It is in the interest of Americans and Alaskans to transition off of fossil fuels. She said the proposed legislation contains "terrific language" about how environmentally conscious the oil companies will be, but she does not trust the promises of oil companies; in fact, oil companies acknowledge the constant risk and lack of technology to clean a major spill. Alaskan engineers and innovators can create sustainable energy, and she urged for the committee to let Alaska show the world how to use sustainable energy instead of fossil fuels. 2:29:53 PM KARLA BROLLIER, Environmental Justice Director, Alaska Wilderness League, informed the committee she is an Ahtna Athabascan who was born and raised in Alaska. She said the Alaska Wilderness League works to preserve the land and the water in Alaska, and she expressed her opposition to the resolution to open ANWR to oil development. Her family is from the Interior and has lived in this land for millennia. Some places, such as ANWR, are too special to drill: development of this land is not worth the price. Ms. Brollier said the land must be protected and preserved for future generations, and expressed her solidarity with the Gwich'in people and their right to continue their way of life. She said she was testifying in opposition to HJR 5 because she believes the resolution is not the answer to Alaska's problems; although oil and gas revenue is important to the state, there is a better way to maintain a strong economy in Alaska. Ms. Broillier urged for the committee to find a new way to find energy, and a sustainable way of life, that does not compromise the land, animals, and a traditional way of life. 2:31:31 PM HALEY JOHNSTON, Wilderness Guide and Operations Manager, Alaska Alpine Adventures, expressed her opposition to HJR 5. She informed the committee ANWR to her represents employment, recreation, and spiritual escape; she has been working and traveling in the refuge and throughout the Brooks Range for the past seven years. From the tundra to the coastal plain, exploring ANWR is a passion for her. The refuge encompasses 19 million acres and along with 3.5 million acres of protected land adjacent in Canada, polar bears, nesting sites, hunting grounds, caribou, wolves, other animals, birds, plants, and cultural sites are protected. Damage to the natural world, even in a small corner of the area, could "send waves of disruption across the whole refuge." Ms. Johnston travels with visitors from around the world who come to the refuge because the refuge is wild, and has an intact ecosystem and wildlife, that may not endure. Tourism creates many jobs for Alaskans, and other industries should not take a back seat to natural resource extraction. As the world moves away from its dependence on oil and gas, over 70 percent of Alaskans worry about the effects of climate change. She urged that the committee not sacrifice one of Alaska's last wild spaces. 2:34:28 PM ANDY MODEROW, State Director, Alaska Wilderness League, characterized HJR 5 as a shortsighted proposal that does not do justice to Alaska's long history, nor build a legacy for future generations. The lands of Alaska have provided for people for thousands of years, and he cautioned against affecting clean air, land, and waters. The transition from Alaska's main commodity has become a necessity, not just because of the impacts of climate change, but because world markets have moved on to something new. Mr. Moderow advised that the state needs to seek long-term strategies and not short-term fixes. He referred to a letter provided to the committee that was signed by 1,245 Alaskans who believe Alaska's economic problems won't be solved by simply drilling. He urged the committee to make a do not pass recommendation of HJR 5. CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON inquired as to whether the [pending congressional legislation] could pass with the support of 51 U.S. Senators. MR. MODEROW said he did not know. REPRESENTATIVE PARISH asked whether there is a commitment that industry or a stakeholder group could make to "set your minds at ease." MR. MODEROW opined that the Arctic refuge needs to remain untouched. He has heard from those in Arctic Village and from Gwich'in, the story of the land and its history and importance that makes drilling of the refuge an untenable proposition. 2:37:56 PM SUZANNE BOSTROM, staff attorney, Trustees for Alaska, said her public interest environmental law firm was founded 40 years ago and works to protect the Arctic refuge from oil and gas activities. She directed attention to the resolution related to Sections 1002 and 1003 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) [passed in the U.S. Congress on 11/12/80] that read: WHEREAS, in 16 U.S.C. 3143 (sec. 1003 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act), the United States Congress reserved the right to permit oil and gas development and production within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and WHEREAS, in 16 U.S.C. 3142 (sec. 1002 of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act), the United States Congress authorized nondrilling exploratory activity within the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (the "1002 study area"); and MS. BOSTROM said the foregoing language is misleading and legally inaccurate; there is a common misunderstanding that the coastal plain was set aside for future oil and gas development, which is reiterated by the first WHEREAS in the resolution. Congress barred oil and gas development and production on the coastal plain, and Section 1003 prohibits the production of oil and gas in the Arctic refuge, and leasing or other development leading to production of oil and gas. The second WHEREAS statement is also inaccurate; Congress was concerned about impacts to the coastal plain, and it only authorized a time- limited exploration program - which was completed in the 1980s - thus exploration is no longer allowed on the coastal plain. Ms. Bostrom also pointed out that HJR 5 states that development would take place with minimal impacts to the environment; however, the bills proposed in Congress do not achieve these goals, but undercut and eliminate environmental reviews and protections for the Porcupine caribou herd and other "values" in the refuge. She said her organization strongly urged the committee not to adopt the resolution. 2:40:33 PM YOSUHIRO OZURU informed the committee he has been an Anchorage resident for seven years. He questioned the benefit of developing oil and the assumption that oil development brings economic development, happiness, and wellbeing to Alaskans; however, low oil prices are introducing instability to the Alaska economy and he posed the alternative vision that the Alaska economy can be based on more communal (indisc.). 2:41:34 PM LOIS EPSTEIN, Arctic Program Director, The Wilderness Society, informed the committee she is a licensed engineer and has lived in Alaska since 2001. Ms. Epstein said ANWR's coastal plain is a sensitive ecological area; in fact, the coastal plain, also known as the 1002 Area, is the home to polar bears, migratory birds, and the Porcupine caribou head, consisting of 200,000 animals. Arctic conditions are changing with global warming and although the Porcupine caribou herd is now healthy, the Central Arctic caribou herd near Prudhoe Bay is down from 70,000 to 22,000 animals. As an engineer and a member of an Alyeska pipeline advisory committee, she said she is very familiar with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), and advised that engineering and economic studies have shown that TAPS can operate for another 50 years with known reserves - not including additional oil from ANWR - which further belies the need for oil exploration in the coastal plain [documents not provided]. Furthermore, recent major finds in Nanushuk and in the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit will support TAPS longer. She observed that HJR 5 differs from previous related resolutions in its context: the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may be scaled back. Currently, EPA provides grants to the Department of Environmental Conservation for spill prevention and response; said grants are now in jeopardy, and responding to spills on the North Slope is expensive. Because of the sensitivity of the coastal plain, the lack of need for ANWR oil to maintain TAPS operations, and the Trump Administration's hostility to environmental concerns, she asked the committee not to support HJR 5. Legislators should ensure that House legislative resolutions are an accurate reflection of facts and of legislators' intent. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH asked whether Ms. Epstein has consulted Alyeska Pipeline Service Company regarding its great concern about the reduction in throughput and the need for increased oil exploration and development to keep pipeline volumes up. MS. EPSTEIN said yes. She advised that from an operational standpoint there are a number of measures to address any diminished quantities [of oil]; in fact, it is not clear that in the next decade there will be less throughput with the new finds. 2:46:25 PM CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON said he shared Ms. Epstein's concern about the new administration's hostility toward environmental interests. 2:46:48 PM STANLEY EDWIN said he is Gwich'in from the Yukon Flats area and holds Bachelors of Science in Physics and Atmospheric Science, and is a PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His is a unique situation in that he also subsists, and thus can see environmental changes when he is hunting and in his research. Mr. Edwin spoke in opposition to [HJR 5 and HJR 4]. There is now a gag order on the National Science Foundation and EPA and "everybody wants to jump into oil development." However, the name Arctic implies sensitivity to any form of development or disturbance in wildlife; for example, everything in the world is linked and nothing stands alone. For future generations, he said he opposes any form of development, and asked the committee to think of the generations of people who have lived off of the land and animals in a very harsh environment. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH has heard anecdotally that there are more caribou in the proximity of TAPS, and asked whether in the last 40 years there has been a reduction in the caribou population "farther east." MR. EDWIN said he lives further east of ANWR and his relatives and extended family live all over the Interior. He was unsure of the nature of the caribou herd; however, the Arctic is a wildlife refuge to protect everything for future generations. 2:51:09 PM EMMA FUNK said she is a lifelong Alaskan from Fairbanks. She spoke in opposition to HJR 4 and HJR 5 and the opening of ANWR to drilling. The refuge is one of the largest intact ecosystems in the world and is uniquely valuable due to its Arctic biodiversity, including caribou and migratory birds. The coastal plain represents over one million acres of the refuge; the infrastructure required for drilling, such as roads, pipelines, and airstrips, would destroy habitat and interrupt migratory patterns. Further, drilling would contribute to climate change. Preservation of the land is also an issue of Alaska Native cultural heritage and subsistence. Drilling is not a sustainable fix for Alaska's economic problems and would cause irrevocable ecological damage. She urged the committee to vote no and protect ANWR. 2:52:24 PM LACHLAN GILLISPIE said he is a lifelong Alaskan born and raised in Fairbanks. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge covers nearly 20 million acres of Arctic habitat with 1.2 million acres of the coastal plain at the heart of the refuge. Drilling in the coastal plain will have major adverse effects on biodiversity throughout the refuge. Developing the coastal plain would involve stripping rivers and streambeds of millions of cubic yards of gravel for roads, airstrips, and drill pad construction, and will also include diversions of freshwater and exposure of wetlands to contamination. Further, it would destroy tundra to build infrastructure such as housing and sewer facilities. Studies have shown that drilling in ANWR would impact muskox and caribou populations, taint and reduce water supplies, and place polar bears at risk from oil spills [documents not provided]. In 1989, the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill [in Prince William Sound on 3/24/89] reduced populations of harbor seals by over 30 percent in the four years following the spill. Mr. Gillespie spoke of the irreplaceable wilderness and cultural heritage of ANWR, and encouraged the committee to oppose HJR 4 and HJR 5. 2:54:20 PM FRAN MAUER stated he has worked as a wildlife biologist in ANWR for 21 years, where he studied wildlife including the Porcupine caribou herd, moose, Dall sheep, and birds of prey. In addition to learning about the wildlife, he saw the land in the context of its value to Alaskans and the world. The caribou have received the most attention, due to impacts that may occur to them from oil development, and that they are crucial to the survival of Gwich'in people in Alaska and Canada. The coastal plain is the most heavily used calving grounds of the Porcupine herd, and impacts to the herd would be far-ranging. The coastal plain is unlike the North Slope tundra near Prudhoe Bay; in the refuge, the mountains leave only a narrow area where females give birth; there are five times as many animals as in the Prudhoe Bay area, yet they depend upon one-fifth as much habitat. Studies have shown that if females are displaced from development areas during calving season there is generally ample habitat at Prudhoe Bay, but in the refuge, if caribou are displaced they will be pushed to areas of higher predation mortality near the mountains leading to a decline of the herd [documents not provided]. Other wildlife would be adversely affected. Mr. Mauer said ANWR is an immensely valuable place and urged the committee to oppose [HJR 5]. 2:56:46 PM BERNADETTE DEMIENTIEFF, Executive Director, Gwich'in Steering Committee, stated she is Gwichyaa Gwich'in from Fort Yukon and as the executive director of the Gwich'in Steering Committee, represents 8,000 people who depend upon the Porcupine caribou herd and who have a spiritual and cultural connection to them. She said she is speaking for all children because parents and grandparents don't want their children to struggle to survive because we failed to protect our land and animals. It is our responsibility to leave a healthy place for our children to live, and it is the responsibility of legislators to take care of not only the people, but of the land and animals. On behalf of her people, she asked the committee to protect the heart of Alaska, the Porcupine caribou herd, and the Gwich'in way of life, and oppose [HJR] 4 and [HJR] 5. REPRESENTATIVE BIRCH suggested that witnesses submit written testimony to the committee to aid in his research. CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON supplied email addresses for the co-chairs. CO-CHAIR TARR noted email testimony to the committee is available online. [HJR 5 was held over with public testimony left open.]