Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205
01/26/2005 03:30 PM RESOURCES
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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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SJR 2-ENDORSING ANWR LEASING CHAIR WAGONER announced SJR 2 to be up for consideration. MS. MARY JACKSON, Staff to Senator Wagoner, said SJR 2 has a companion bill in the House adding that opening ANWR has been discussed for many years. She held up a commemorative metal sculpture indicating support for ANWR opening this year. 4:15:56 PM MS. DEBBIE MILLER, Fairbanks resident, said she has explored and written about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and even helped conduct a wilderness assessment of the 1002 area in the 1980s. She said it is scenic and the wildlife values are extraordinary. It is the only area in Alaska that is protected for its wildlife while there is already a lot of oil development in the central Arctic region and in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA). "We have no business going into this conservation area.... It was not established for oil and gas development." 4:17:45 PM MS. MILLER proposed amending line 6 by inserting "or not permit" after "to permit" further oil and gas exploration. 4:18:43 PM She also suggested inserting "some" before "residents" of the North Slope Borough support development on page 1, line 14, because some do not support development. The entire Gwichen Nation is against opening up the Arctic Refuge for development. Nearly half of Alaskans and Americans oppose it. The state should not promote development on federally protected wildlife refuges because "They were not set aside for that purpose." Since 1964, there has been no new oil and gas drilling or leasing on any wildlife refuge in the country. 4:20:55 PM On page 2, she urged the committee to delete lines 1 - 4, because they are not accurate. The estimated 3.2 billion barrels of economically recoverable oil in the Arctic Refuge would not significantly reduce our nations future need for imported oil or increase oil or security. 4:21:46 PM MS. MILLER suggested deleting "giant" on page 2, line 16, because the United States Geological Survey (USGS) ruled out the possibility of any super giant fields in the Arctic Refuge. 4:22:25 PM Finally, she suggested deleting "2,000 to 7,000 acres" from line 23 saying that Congressman Don Young introduced a bill (HR 39) that states 200,000 acres would be up for lease. She surmised that the infrastructure would not be limited to just 2,000 to 7,000 acres and that pipelines would be all over the place. 4:23:54 PM MR. FRAN MAUER, Fairbanks resident, said he worked for 24 years as a wildlife biologist on ANWR and opposed SJR 2 or any effort to open that area to drilling and development. He thinks it is inappropriate for any state to pursue development that would jeopardize the integrity of a national conservation area. 4:25:16 PM He pointed out the inaccuracy in lines 27 through 29 where it says that oil and gas activities can be conducted safely and without adversely affecting the environment or wildlife population saying, "This is largely not true." The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared for leasing in the 1002 area found a strong probability that development would have major effects on caribou, polar bears, musk ox, wilderness and subsistence. 4:26:10 PM MR. MAUER also said that page 2, lines 30 through 32, say the state will ensure the continued health of Porcupine Caribou herd and that is not true. Concentrations of calving caribou have been displaced during the calving season in the Prudhoe Bay area. Fortunately, those caribou have a broader coastal plain that accommodates their displacement. The Porcupine herd in the Arctic Refuge has five times as many caribou using one-fifth as much area for calving. The consequences of displacement are far greater. 4:27:33 PM MS. LUCI BEACH, Executive Director, Gwichen Steering Committee, opposed SJR 2. She also objected to language on page 2, line 30, saying that protection of the herd and land is not possible. The Coastal Plain is known as the Sacred Place Where Life Begins. She explained that the Central Arctic Caribou herd has a range of 100 miles from the Beaufort Sea to the foothills of the Brooks Range, so it has some place to go. The Porcupine Caribou herd has only a 40-mile range up to the foothills of the Brooks Range and that's where predators live. 4:30:22 PM MR. AL ADAMS, former Alaska State Senator, said he represents Arctic Power that advocates opening ANWR. It would bring jobs to Alaskans and energy for Americans. People need to understand as far as the land is concerned there is about 18.5 million acres of land in ANWR. We do not want to touch 8 million acres of wilderness or the 9 million acres of the Refuge. The only area we're talking about is the 1.5 million acres that is designated right here for oil and gas development. You hear things that we're going to go there and ruin the wilderness or the Refuge. You're not touching any of those.... Basically, on that 1.5 million acres we will be touching areas 64% less than Prudhoe Bay is. The footprint will be much smaller; the technology for oil and gas development has changed.... We're talking about maybe 2,000 acres in this particular area. You know, the oil operations of the North Slope is probably the most regulated - efficient - and uses the highest of technology.... We have caribou in the state of Alaska. We have over 1 million caribou. One of the largest western herds is 450,000 animals. The Porcupine herd is 129,000 animals. If you want to talk about polar bears, there's 2,700 polar bear up in the district - bowheads - over 9,000 animals up there. So, animals and wildlife get along with that. Somebody mentioned Prudhoe Bay. When we finally finished that in 1979, we only had 3,000 animals there. In Prudhoe Bay today - caribou - we have 32,000. So, the caribou with oil development is flourishing. MR. ADAMS said he understands the Gwichen Nation's concern about caribou, but in 1984, it leased all of its land - 1.8 million acres for $1.8 million. "Where was their concern in 1984 for their caribou and the sacred land? We, the Alaskans, both Inupiat people and Alaskans, would like to see that opened." He said that 75% of Alaskans support the opening of ANWR; 78% of Kaktovik supports it. He point out a small purple area on a map of the area that indicates private land holdings of about 92,160 acres. He said development would bring money to the general fund from royalties and bonuses; it will provide jobs in Alaska and the U.S. MR. ADAMS offered one amendment - to give the Native Village and Kaktovik $50,000 a piece for one of the sections on their property. 4:31:02 PM CHAIR WAGONER asked if the Gwichen lease was for oil and gas exploration. 4:35:26 PM MR. ADAMS replied yes. The consultant at the time was Donald R. Wright. He offered to show the contract to the committee and read the names of some people who signed it. 4:36:21 PM CHAIR WAGONER asked if the Arctic Slope Corporation is precluded from development of oil or is the oil stranded. 4:36:41 PM MR. ADAMS replied that under federal law, congressional approval is needed before anything can be done in that section. 4:37:05 PM SENATOR SEEKINS asked how close the Gwichens live to the 1002 area. MR. ADAMS replied that they live approximately 150 miles away from that particular area. USGA estimates between 5.7 billion and 16 billion barrels in that particular section. Remember when we first estimated Prudhoe Bay? We estimated there would only be 10 billion barrels coming from Prudhoe Bay and as of last year we have already shipped through 14 billion. So, we estimate there's going to be a large amount of oil in that particular section. 4:38:08 PM SENATOR SEEKINS asked if he is intimating there may be some economic reason for the Gwichen people to keep the Inupiat lands closed to oil exploration. 4:38:28 PM MR.ADAMS replied no; each tribe has a right to its own opinion. 4:39:00 PM SENATOR SEEKINS moved to pass SJR 2 from committee with individual recommendations and attached $0 fiscal note. Senators Stevens, Dyson, Seekins, Stedman and Chair Wagoner voted yea; and Senator Elton voted nay. SJR 2 moved from committee.