Legislature(2013 - 2014)BUTROVICH 205

02/05/2014 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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03:30:41 PM Start
03:32:04 PM Presentation: Heads of Agreement (hoa) Panel Discussion
05:19:49 PM SB148
05:34:46 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Gasline Issues: Heads of Agreement Panel TELECONFERENCED
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
Moved SB 148 Out of Committee
Uniform Rule 23 Waived
-- Public Testimony --
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
           SB 148-KACHEMAK BAY CRITICAL HABITAT AREA                                                                        
5:19:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL announced SB 148 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
SENATOR MICCICHE,  sponsor of  SB 148,  explained that  this bill                                                               
amends AS 16.20.590 by exempting the  Homer Port and Harbor and a                                                               
small area that is planned for  future harbor and deep water dock                                                               
expansion from  the Kachemak Bay  Critical Habitat  Area (KBCHA).                                                               
It cleans  up the language of  the management plan that  says the                                                               
plan  does not  apply to  municipal harbors  within the  critical                                                               
boundary  area.  However,  the statutory  boundary  excluded  the                                                               
harbor, so they listed the statutory boundary.                                                                                  
Amending  the  boundary allows  normal  maintenance  work in  the                                                               
harbor   without  requiring   expensive  and   potentially  time-                                                               
consuming  permitting from  Alaska  Department of  Fish and  Game                                                               
(ADF&G). He said  that this permitting would not  be necessary if                                                               
the  management plan  and the  statutory boundary  matched, which                                                               
they will through this action.                                                                                                  
5:21:39 PM                                                                                                                    
Homer projects  impacted by permitting  requirements in  the past                                                               
have  been  ramp  replacement, float  replacement,  Pioneer  Dock                                                               
construction, and deep water dock fender replacement.                                                                           
SENATOR  MICCICHE said  the primary  reason they  are asking  for                                                               
this   -   because   the   Homer   Harbor   provides   a   secure                                                               
environmentally responsible  place to store and  maintain vessels                                                               
that support the oil and gas industry in Cook Inlet.                                                                            
He said  SB 148 is  important to his  district and to  Homer, but                                                               
also important to Southcentral Alaska  and the Interior in places                                                               
like  Fairbanks,  because  it  helps provide  a  safe  harbor  to                                                               
support the natural gas exploration  and production in north Cook                                                               
Inlet. It  certainly gives an  increased potential  to distribute                                                               
natural gas to rural Alaskans outside of that area.                                                                             
5:22:38 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL  noted a  zero  fiscal  note  and  a copy  of  the                                                               
management  plan  that said  drilling  rig  storage will  not  be                                                               
allowed  in  Kachemak Bay  Critical  Habitat  Area, possibly  the                                                               
section he wanted to correct.                                                                                                   
SENATOR MICCICHE said that was correct,  and he added that he had                                                               
checked  with the  agencies and  local  NGO's to  make sure  they                                                               
supported it  and he heard  that they  recognize the harbor  as a                                                               
safe location  for this  type of activity  and were  not opposing                                                               
the bill.                                                                                                                       
5:23:55 PM                                                                                                                    
CYNTHIA  BIRKHIMER,  Kachemak  Bay Conservation  Society  (KBCS),                                                               
Homer, Alaska, said they understand  the reason for this request,                                                               
and it  appears that  including these  areas within  the critical                                                               
habitat  area (CHA)  could  have been  a  simple oversight.  They                                                               
support this  action on  its face, but  have some  concerns about                                                               
details  of the  wording. Concerns  are  about the  size of  area                                                               
requested  to  be removed  and  she  asked that  it  specifically                                                               
exclude  any  and  all  oil and  gas,  mineral  exploration,  and                                                               
development  activities from  within  the confines  of the  newly                                                               
removed land. They ask that  this area be specifically designated                                                               
within  the bill  to  allow  harbor industry-specific  operations                                                               
such as vessel moorage, storage, and freight transfer.                                                                          
She believed this could be  the first action to remove designated                                                               
lands from  within a CHA in  the state and was  concerned that it                                                               
will set a  precedent for this type of  undesignated land actions                                                               
especially with  regard to resource development  interests within                                                               
the boundaries of a CHA.                                                                                                        
MS.   BIRKHIMER   said   at  the   present   time   the   Parnell                                                               
administration  is  openly  working  to  undermine  the  existing                                                               
management  process of  state CHAs,  game  refuges, and  wildlife                                                               
sanctuaries through the application  of Administrative Order (AO)                                                               
266.  This  action  looks  suspect   and  could  make  the  KBCHA                                                               
vulnerable to future incursions. Their  concerns are for the long                                                               
term protection of  the local area encompassed by  the KBCHA, and                                                               
to this  end she  requested specific sections  of the  City Homer                                                               
resolution 14-005 be  incorporated into the wording of  SB 148 as                                                               
5:27:10 PM                                                                                                                    
     Lines 62-65:                                                                                                               
     Whereas, the  City of Homer  has deep  appreciation for                                                                    
     the  Critical  Habitat   Designation  and  the  adopted                                                                    
     Management  Plan  because  it  protects  the  resources                                                                    
     which  provide   the  very  foundation  of   the  local                                                                    
     economy, lifestyle and quality of life; and                                                                                
     Line 74-75:  Whereas, the City  stipulates it  does not                                                                    
     propose  or   support  any  other  amendments   to  the                                                                    
     Kachemak Bay  Critical Habitat Are  or Plan as  part of                                                                    
     this request.                                                                                                              
SENATOR FAIRCLOUGH  asked if  she was speaking  on behalf  of the                                                               
organization, which means they have  taken a formal vote, and how                                                               
many members her organization has.                                                                                              
5:28:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. BIRKHIMER  said she represents  KBCS has 100 members  and the                                                               
board has seven members.                                                                                                        
5:29:11 PM                                                                                                                    
WALT  WREDE,  Manager, City  of  Homer,  Homer, Alaska,  said  he                                                               
strongly supported  SB 148. He  said they have a  resolution from                                                               
the  City Council  which was  adopted unanimously.  This bill  is                                                               
simple; it  just carves the port  and harbor area out  of the CHA                                                               
where it  was never intended  to be.  This has caused  a conflict                                                               
between the CHA plan and the statutes.                                                                                          
Passing this  has a  number of benefits:  it resolves  a conflict                                                               
with statute  and the  CHA plan with  respect to  municipal lands                                                               
and the port and harbor area.  It will make permitting easier are                                                               
the regulatory  environment much  better for ADF&G  allowing them                                                               
to solve some of the ambiguities they are faced with now.                                                                       
He said this legislation would  solve some long standing problems                                                               
they have been  dealing with for decades  including a requirement                                                               
in the  plan that any vessel  that anchors over 14  days needs to                                                               
get a permit from the ADF&G.  The  port of Homer is very busy and                                                               
this is a very impractical requirement.                                                                                         
They have  also seen a lot  of permitting delays and  extra costs                                                               
as  a  result  of  being  included in  the  CHA;  sometimes  this                                                               
includes even  routine maintenance  like replacing  and repairing                                                               
floats in the harbor.                                                                                                           
5:31:19 PM                                                                                                                    
Finally, Mr.  Wrede said, what  really brought this to  light was                                                               
whether or not  the department could permit oil  and gas drilling                                                               
rigs  to   be  docked  at   the  deep  water  dock   for  routine                                                               
maintenance, repair.  They want to  allow that, because  Homer is                                                               
an ice-free, deep-water  port that has many  resources that could                                                               
be  of service  to  the industry,  and oil  and  gas drilling  is                                                               
ramping up quite  a bit in the Cook Inlet.  From an environmental                                                               
point of  view this is the  safest place for those  vessels to be                                                               
when they need to be tied up and repaired.                                                                                      
5:32:14 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDY BATES, Director, Division  of Habitat, Alaska Department of                                                               
Fish and Game (ADF&G), said he would answer questions on SB 148.                                                                
CHAIR  GIESSEL asked  how many  permits the  department processes                                                               
for the vessels that are docked there for over 14 days.                                                                         
MR.  BATES replied  that within  the  last five  years they  have                                                               
processed a total  of 150 permits for the KBCHA;  29 of them have                                                               
been within the area described in SB 148.                                                                                       
CHAIR  GIESSEL,  finding  no further  discussion,  closed  public                                                               
5:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR DYSON moved to report SB 148 from committee to the next                                                                 
committee of referral with attached fiscal notes and individual                                                                 
recommendations. There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SB 148 vs A.pdf HRLS 2/18/2014 5:00:00 PM
SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Sponsor Statement.PDF SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Fiscal Note.pdf HRLS 2/18/2014 5:00:00 PM
SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Map Proposed Exclusion to the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area DNR.pdf HRLS 2/18/2014 5:00:00 PM
SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Kachemak Bay and Fox River Flats Critical Habitat Area 199312.pdf SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Supp Resolution City of Homer 14-005 20140113.pdf HRLS 2/18/2014 5:00:00 PM
SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148
SB 148 Written Testimony CynthiaBirkhimer 20140205.pdf SRES 2/5/2014 3:30:00 PM
SB 148