Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/27/1995 03:36 PM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SRES - 2/27/95 HJR 27 EXEMPT ALASKA FROM FED CLEAN WATER ACT CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced that since the committee did not have a quorum, the committee would just take testimony. The committee began taking testimony at 3:36 p.m. The chairman stated the committee would first take testimony on HJR 27 and called the first witness. Number 020 JEFF LOGAN, Aide to Representative Green, prime sponsor of HJR 27, read the sponsor statement for the resolution to the committee. Number 040 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Logan if the policy on wetlands was a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers, or if it was a law that had been passed by congress. MR. LOGAN did not know if it is a law or not. SENATOR TAYLOR thought most of the policy on wetlands was dictated by an Army Corps of Engineers memo. Number 060 MR. LOGAN responded that is his understanding also. S.49, which the committee has a copy of, was introduced by Alaska's delegation to congress to try to clarify language from the corps. Section 3 is the amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. Representative Green has worked with the Alaska Wetlands Coalition and the congressional delegation's staff; this resolution is something they requested. Number 090 KEN FREEMAN, representing the Resource Development Council (RDC), testifying from Anchorage, stated the RDC supports HJR 27. Mr. Freeman believes the situation in Alaska is different from that of the rest of the country, and that most wetlands in Alaska are still undeveloped. Number 140 TONY TURRINI, representing the National Wildlife Federation, testifying from Anchorage, stated the federation is opposed to HJR 27. Mr. Turrini thinks the present Clean Water Act is adequate, and that HJR 27 is unneccesary. Mr. Turrini has submitted written testimony to the committee which will be copied for the members. SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Turrini if he thinks the passage of HJR 27 will have a negative economic impact on tourism and other businesses. Number 203 MR. TURRINI thinks if wetlands are destroyed, tourism will be negatively affected. Number 220 JULIUS ROCKWELL, representing the Anchorage Waterways Council, testifying from Anchorage, stated the council wants to maintain the remaining wetlands in the Anchorage area. He thinks the existing legislation is adequate. (Teleconference transmission is very difficult to understand). Number 245 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Rockwell if he would be happier with New England if over 50% of that area had been locked up and prevented from being developed. MR. ROCKWELL does not think half the state should be locked up; he wants to protect what is left in Anchorage. Number 263 GERSHON COHEN, Executive Director, Alaska Clean Water Alliance, testifying from Haines, does not think there is a problem with the current process for handling development in wetlands. He has not seen any permits turned down by the Army Corps of Engineers. (Teleconference transmission is very bad, Mr. Cohen's testimony is almost entirely unintelligible). Number 280 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Cohen, if all permits are routinely approved, why the permitting process is necessary. MR. COHEN thinks the permitting process gives projects needed scrutiny. Number 295 CHAIRMAN LEMAN officially called the Senate Resources Committee to order, since there is now a quorum. Present are Senators Frank, Hoffman, Taylor, and the chairman. MARGARET CLABBY, testifying from Ketchikan, stated she has read the Federal Clean Water Act and other documents relating to wetlands. Ms. Clabby stated she supports the Clean Water Act, and does not think Alaska should try to get out of it. Number 338 TROY REINHART, Employee Relations & Public Affairs Manager, Ketchikan Pulp Corporation (KPC), testifying from Ketchikan, stated KPC supports HJR 27 and its' goals. KPC also supports the comments RDC gave earlier in the hearing. Number 345 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Mr. Reinhart if he thinks there is anything in the resolution that would cause the whole wetlands law to be thrown out if it is passed. MR. REINHART responded he does not think that would happen. He thinks it would send a message to congress that Alaska is different. CHAIRMAN LEMAN noted that Senator Halford has joined the committee meeting. Number 359 TERRY HERMACH, Prince William Sound Conservation Alliance, testifying from Valdez, stated he is opposed to HJR 27. Mr. Hermach thinks Alaska should learn from the mistakes of the Lower Forty-Eight. Number 370 SHARON HAWKINS stated she participated in the round-table wetlands discussion in which federal, state, and local governments also participated. This was about a six-month long ongoing process. Ms. Hawkins informed the committee of the function of wetlands, and stated Alaska supports summer staging and feeding grounds for over 95% of the world's seabirds. She thinks HJR 27 should reflect the fact that only a small percentage of Alaska's wetlands supports the seabirds. Ms. Hawkins stated Army Corps of Engineers' review of permits is an important tool for wetlands development, because the corps can add its' expertise to development. Ms. Hawkins last point is that wetlands within parklands are not necessarily protected from development. She gave as an example placer mining taking place in Denali National Park. MS. HAWKINS stated that at the end of the round-table discussion in which she participated, it was concluded that there is quite a bit of flexibility in wetlands development. She does not see a problem with the current system and does not think the regulations should be ignored. Number 435 CHAIRMAN LEMAN asked Ms. Hawkins what part of HJR 27 indicates to her there would not continue to be Army Corps of Engineers' review. MS. HAWKINS replied it is her impression that exempting Alaska from a "no net loss policy" would mean no review by the corps. She thinks that would mean no mitigation of private gain from public lands would be required. CHAIRMAN LEMAN noted that he and Ms. Hawkins have different understandings of what that language would do. He does not think the language would do what Ms. Hawkins thinks it would do. Number 460 SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Hawkins who she represented in the round- table process and how she was named to the round-table. MS. HAWKINS responded she was a citizen representative, and she does not know how she was named to the round-table. She was contacted by the Army Corps of Engineers and asked if she would like to serve. She was representing the environmental community, but is not sure how she was chosen. SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Hawkins, if 375,000 acres of birdfeeding and nesting areas are essential, how that land was missed after sixty or seventy million acres have already been classified as wilderness. MS. HAWKINS replied that the birds require a coastal estuarian setting. There is very little of that type of habitat. The large amount of acreage to which Senator Taylor is referring may be wetlands, but it may not have any feeding area. SENATOR TAYLOR asked Ms. Hawkins if it would be okay with her to take 375,000 acres out of wilderness classification and add the 375,000 acres necessary for bird nesting and feeding. MS. HAWKINS responded that land classified as wilderness does not preclude development. Number 490 MOLLY SHERMAN, Alaska Environmental Lobby, stated the lobby is opposed to HJR 27. She read a written statement which was also submitted to the committee. Number 508 SENATOR HALFORD asked Ms. Sherman in what communities wetlands had been destroyed, adversely affecting wildlife, fishing, and hunting. MS. SHERMAN responded that an earlier participant in the hearing, representing the Anchorage Waterways Council, mentioned that Anchorage's wetlands have been greatly affected by development, including the Potter Marsh flats. SENATOR HALFORD stated that Potter Marsh is full of waterfowl, is protected, and was created by the building of the road: it is the impoundment. Number 524 SENATOR TAYLOR asked if any of the witnesses who testified in opposition to HJR 27 ever applied for a corps permit. MS. SHERMAN replied she can check with members of the Alaska Environmental Lobby. She has worked in industry, and it is possible that companies she has worked for have applied for permits. SENATOR TAYLOR commented it is possible that there is a great difference in life experiences between those people who have applied for a permit and those who have not. Number 545 MALCOLM FORD, testifying from Anchorage, compared the environment in Alaska with the environment in England. (The teleconference transmission is very bad, and Mr. Ford's testimony is unintelligible for the most part). Number 568 MARTHA LEVENSALER, testifying from Anchorage, does not agree that since so much of Alaska's land is locked up, it does not need to be protected. Public land is still open to development. TAPE 95-16, SIDE B Number 580 MARTHA LEVENSALER stated the permitting process is important, even though most plans are approved, because the process frequently changes development plans to help protect resources. Number 565 JULIUS ROCKWELL, of the Anchorage Waterways Council, testifying from Anchorage added that members of the council have acquired permits. Number 550 SENATOR TAYLOR made a motion to discharge HJR 27 from the Senate Resources Committee with individual recommendations. CHAIRMAN LEMAN, hearing no objection, discharged HJR 27 from committee with individual recommendations. SRES - 2/28/95 HJR 27 EXEMPT ALASKA FROM FED CLEAN WATER ACT CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought up HJR 27 under reconsideration. The chairman called the first witness to testify. Number 256 MATT KINNEY, testifying from Valdez, stated he supports HJR 27, but suggested amending the bill. On page 2, line 23, add the term, "feasible and prudent." He also thinks the definition of "wetlands" is too broad and should be further defined. Mr. Kinney asked Senator Taylor if he has ever applied for an Army Corps of Engineers' permit. Number 185 SENATOR TAYLOR responded he has applied for a permit. CHAIRMAN LEMAN announced the committee will set aside HJR 27 until a quorum is reestablished. SRES - 2/27/95 HJR 27 EXEMPT ALASKA FROM FED CLEAN WATER ACT CHAIRMAN LEMAN brought up HJR 27 once again and called the next witness. Number 184 JEFF WRALEY, testifying from Homer, is opposed to the idea we should be allowed to repeat the mistakes of the Lower Forty-Eight, simply because we have much of our wetlands undeveloped. Number 216 ED BAILEY, testifying from Homer, gives testimony unfavorable to HJR 27. Alaska is unique because most of its' wetlands have not been developed. We should learn from what has happened elsewhere. Number 246 SENATOR HALFORD made a motion to discharge HJR 27 from the Senate Resources Committee with individual recommendations under reconsideration. CHAIRMAN LEMAN hearing no objection, discharged HJR 27 from committee.