Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/05/2003 09:02 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                                                                                                                                
     CS FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 101(FIN) am                                                                                          
     "An Act  making special appropriations  to promote the  opening                                                            
     of  the  Arctic  National  Wildlife  Refuge  for  oil  and  gas                                                            
     exploration  and development;  and providing  for an  effective                                                            
     date."                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
This  was the first  hearing  for this  bill in  the Senate  Finance                                                            
Committee.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
TOM WRIGHT, Staff to Representative  John Harris, presented the bill                                                            
to  the  Committee.   He  explained  that  this  legislation   would                                                            
appropriate  funds  to Arctic  Power  to further  their educational                                                             
efforts  regarding  the  opening of  the  Arctic  National  Wildlife                                                            
Refuge (ANWR)  on the Congressional  level. He stated that  the bill                                                            
would  additionally provide  funds to  the village  of Anaktuvuk  to                                                            
continue  their efforts  in  promoting ANWR;  provide  funds to  the                                                            
Office  of  the Governor;  and  provide  funds  to Arctic  Power  to                                                            
develop monthly expenditure reports for the Legislature.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman  asked the  purpose  of  the appropriation  to  the                                                            
Office of the Governor.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wright  responded  that he  was unaware  of the  reason for  the                                                            
appropriation.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  asked whether a written request from  the Office of                                                            
the Governor is available.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wright replied that  a letter from the Governor was not included                                                            
in the packet.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Co-Chair Wilken  suggested that a title change be  considered by the                                                            
State  House of  Representatives  to  clarify  that the  area  being                                                            
considered  for exploration  and development  is a relatively  small                                                            
portion  of  ANWR   referred  to  as  Area  1002.  He   voiced  that                                                            
identification  of the  area in  this manner  might more  accurately                                                            
convey that a  small portion of ANWR, rather than  all of ANWR would                                                            
be opened to exploration.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wright  voiced that the  House of Representatives  would  not be                                                            
opposed to this suggestion.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman asked  whether the  number of  supporting votes  in                                                            
Congress has changed.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Mr.  Wright  responded  that ANWR  is  addressed  in two  pieces  of                                                            
Congressional legislation:  one is the inclusion of Area 1002 in the                                                            
Budget Reconciliation  Act which is  up for a reconsideration  vote;                                                            
and the other  is ANWR's inclusion in the Energy Bill.  He specified                                                            
that a majority vote and 60 votes, respectively, are required.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman  asked the latest tally of the support  in Congress.                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Mr. Wright responded  that the supporting vote tally  ranges from 46                                                            
to 52 votes; however, he could not verify the actual count.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
KIM DUKE, Executive  Director, Arctic Power stated  that the private                                                            
non-profit entity has been  coordinating the effort to open ANWR for                                                            
approximately  ten years.  She stated that  the State has  allocated                                                            
funds  to help  Arctic Power  in this  endeavor,  and she  expressed                                                            
optimism  that the  circumstances  have  improved.  She stated  that                                                            
State funding  has provided for such things as Congressional  member                                                            
visitations to ANWR as  well as allowing ANWR advocates to travel to                                                            
other states  to explain  the project.  She stressed  that this  on-                                                            
going effort has  benefited the State, and she voiced  optimism that                                                            
the effort would be rewarded this year.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman,  noting that this  request is $2 million  less than                                                            
the original request, asked what items were omitted.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Duke  voiced that this  "conservative"  request would allow  for                                                            
the continuance  of a short-term aggressive  campaign; however,  she                                                            
asserted, were  the effort to be lengthy, additional  appropriations                                                            
would  be sought.  She summarized  that,  while it  is difficult  to                                                            
predict the proceedings  in Congress, the hope is  that the campaign                                                            
would be effective.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Duke  continued  that in  order to  be effective,  there are  no                                                            
plans to curtail or eliminate  any of the programs that Arctic Power                                                            
conducts.  She stated that  the campaign  would continue to  include                                                            
such things as  the North Slope tours and the outreach  program. She                                                            
stressed that  the funding would be  sufficient for a shortened  but                                                            
aggressive  campaign effort; however,  she continued that  were this                                                            
funding spread over a nine-month  or yearlong timeframe, it would be                                                            
insufficient.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Olson  questioned  whether this  "conservative  amount"  of                                                            
funding,  as compared  to  historically  higher levels  of  funding,                                                            
might jeopardize the effectiveness of the campaign.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Duke responded that  Arctic Power would pursue the campaign with                                                            
the assumption  that additional  funding would  be forthcoming.  She                                                            
reiterated  that the  decision  was made  to conduct  an  aggressive                                                            
campaign.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Bunde  asked whether  Congressional   visits to  ANWR  have                                                            
historically occurred in July.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Ms.  Duke responded  that  tours have  been  conducted  as early  as                                                            
March.  She communicated  that the  Office of  the Governor  extends                                                            
invitations  to Congressional  members, and  that Arctic Power  then                                                            
coordinates the tour.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Senator Bunde voiced support of the program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Senator Hoffman inquired  as to the type of documentation that would                                                            
be supplied to the Legislature.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Ms. Dukes explained  that Arctic Power would continue  to submit the                                                            
monthly reports  to the  Legislature, the  Governor and to  Alaska's                                                            
Congressional  delegation as  required in  the grant. She  mentioned                                                            
that, as required,  expense reports are submitted  for reimbursement                                                            
and audits  of the program are conducted.  She stated these  records                                                            
are public.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator  Hoffman  voiced that  this  documentation  is important  as                                                            
there  is  a  "misconception"   that  documentation   has  not  been                                                            
provided.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
AL ADAMS, Volunteer  and Co-Chair  of Arctic Power and former  State                                                            
Senator,  testified  via  teleconference  from  an  offnet  site  in                                                            
Washington,  DC.  He stated  that the  campaign  to open  ANWR is  a                                                            
coordinated effort  in conjunction with such entities  as the Office                                                            
of the Governor, associated  industry and labor unions, and Alaska's                                                            
Congressional  delegation. He opined that while this  lower level of                                                            
funding might  hamper the process,  the Arctic Power campaign  would                                                            
aggressively  pursue  the additional  votes  required  to open  Area                                                            
1002.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
The bill was HELD in Committee.                                                                                                 

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