Legislature(2019 - 2020)BARNES 124

04/01/2019 06:30 PM House RESOURCES

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06:32:01 PM Start
06:32:27 PM Confirmation Hearing(s):|| Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation
08:08:41 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ Consideration of Governor's Appointees: TELECONFERENCED
Commissioner Designee Jason Brune, Dept. of
Environmental Conservation
-- Testimony <Invitation Only> --
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 1, 2019                                                                                          
                           6:32 p.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Geran Tarr, Co-Chair                                                                                             
Representative Grier Hopkins, Vice Chair                                                                                        
Representative Sara Hannan                                                                                                      
Representative Ivy Spohnholz                                                                                                    
Representative Chris Tuck                                                                                                       
Representative Dave Talerico                                                                                                    
Representative George Rauscher                                                                                                  
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Representative John Lincoln, Co-Chair                                                                                           
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
Representative Chuck Kopp                                                                                                       
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Sarah Vance                                                                                                      
Representative Kelly Merrick                                                                                                    
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                        
Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                        
     Jason Brune - Anchorage                                                                                                    
     - CONFIRMATION(S) ADVANCED                                                                                                 
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
No previous action to record                                                                                                    
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
JASON BRUNE, Commissioner Designee                                                                                              
Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:   Speaking as  commissioner designee  to the                                                             
Department of Environmental Conservation, answered questions.                                                                 
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
6:32:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  GERAN   TARR  called   the  House   Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to order at  6:32 p.m.  Representatives Hannan,                                                               
Hopkins,  Rasmussen,  Rauscher,  Talerico, Tuck,  and  Tarr  were                                                               
present at the  call to order.   Representative Spohnholz arrived                                                               
as the meeting was in  progress.  Representatives Kopp, Thompson,                                                               
Vance, and Merrick were also present.                                                                                           
^CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                                       
^Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation                                                                         
                    CONFIRMATION HEARING(S):                                                                                  
    Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservations                                                                 
6:32:27 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR announced  the only order of business  would be the                                                               
confirmation  hearing  of   Commissioner  Designee  Jason  Brune,                                                               
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  RASMUSSEN  asked  Commissioner Brune  whether  he                                                               
holds any financial interest in  companies or industries overseen                                                               
by DEC  and how he would  use an unbiased approach  in permitting                                                               
decisions  related  to companies  with  which  he was  previously                                                               
6:35:35 PM                                                                                                                    
JASON  BRUNE, Commissioner  Designee, DEC,  said on  [12/3/18] he                                                               
sold  all of  the  stock  he owned  in  any resource  development                                                               
company  doing  business  in  Alaska.    Further,  his  money  is                                                               
invested  in  a blind  trust  for  retirement.   Turning  to  the                                                               
subject of  conflict of  interest, he  said the  DEC commissioner                                                               
has a  responsibility to do  no more  or less than  authorized by                                                               
the legislature, or by Congress,  when authorization is delegated                                                               
to the commissioner  by Congress.  He said his  job is to produce                                                               
science-based,  legally  defensible  permits  that  will  not  be                                                               
challenged.    The  team  at  DEC  is  focused  on  science-based                                                               
permits, therefore, it is impossible for him to be biased.                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  HANNAN  recalled Commissioner  Brune's  statement                                                               
that  Alaska has  an unstable  permitting process,  ranked behind                                                               
"the Congo" in the predictability  of permitting.  She advised in                                                               
Africa, projects do  not advance without bribes,  and asked which                                                               
aspects  of Alaska's  permitting  process  are unpredictable  and                                                               
need reform.                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE said  he was  repeating  information from  an                                                               
annual  study  by  the  Fraser Institute  that  reported  on  the                                                               
predictability  of permitting  in all  mining regimes  worldwide.                                                               
In geology, Alaska  "ranks in the top five."   For predictability                                                               
in its permitting regime, mining  executives ranked Alaska behind                                                               
"the Congo."   From his personal perspective, he  said there have                                                               
been   constant  changes   made   by  previous   administrations.                                                               
Commissioner  Brune  said  the  state  permitting  regime  should                                                               
follow certain steps - laid out  by the legislature or Congress -                                                               
and  grant  permits  based  on the  rules;  the  governor  should                                                               
support  the  process  so  that companies  can  come  and  invest                                                               
without fear.   He  said he seeks  to bring  back predictability,                                                               
ensure due  process for companies,  and put  the onus to  prove a                                                               
project can be developed safely on the project proponent.                                                                       
6:40:52 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN noted proposed  legislation [SB 51, related                                                               
to the Clean Water Act's  antidegradation regulation Tier 3 water                                                               
designation]   would   create   a  process   finalized   by   the                                                               
legislature,  which is  a political  entity.   She asked  whether                                                               
Commissioner  Brune  would support  a  Tier  3 water  designation                                                               
based on a science-based process.                                                                                               
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE said  Alaska's  process to  designate Tier  3                                                               
waterbodies directs  the legislature to vote  on the designation.                                                               
He provided a brief background of  the process and noted the goal                                                               
of  SB  51 is  to  codify  that  the  legislature has  the  final                                                               
decision  on water  use and  land  use designation.   He  advised                                                               
proposed SB 51,  section B, requires that DEC,  the Department of                                                               
Natural Resources,  and the  Alaska Department  of Fish  and Game                                                               
provide   "science-based   justification"    for   the   Tier   3                                                               
designation.     Furthermore,   proposed  SB   51  would   codify                                                               
regulations and transfer powers from  the executive branch to the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN  asked for  Commissioner Brune's  stance on                                                               
the  restoration  of  the   [Alaska  Coastal  Management  Program                                                               
(ACMP)] and on  other ballot measures that  would affect Alaska's                                                               
permitting process.                                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER   BRUNE   informed   the  committee   in   2010   he                                                               
[represented the  Resource Development Council (RDC)]  and worked                                                               
on [failed] legislation  to maintain ACMP.  He  said RDC probably                                                               
opposed  the  initiative  to  reinstate   ACMP  because  RDC  was                                                               
concerned  that   initiatives  do  not  undergo   a  deliberative                                                               
legislative process.   He  said he worked  to oppose  "the cruise                                                               
ship initiative,  the clean  water initiative  ... [and]  the gas                                                               
reserves tax issue."                                                                                                            
6:46:29 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ asked  Commissioner  Brune to  describe                                                               
the rules that are changing.                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  said, in relation specifically  to the Pebble                                                               
project, at  the federal  level there was  concern by  the mining                                                               
industry about [the  Clean Water Act section  404(c)] proposal to                                                               
stop  Pebble before  its application  was submitted,  and federal                                                               
action to stop an Arch Coal  project that had been permitted.  At                                                               
the  state  level,  the  previous governor  took  a  position  in                                                               
opposition to  a project  on state land  that was  designated for                                                               
mining;   further,  the   chief   of  staff   for  the   previous                                                               
administration  was  an adamant  Pebble  opponent.   This  raised                                                               
concern that  Pebble was not  going to  be treated fairly  by the                                                               
previous administration.   He opined  there are certain  areas of                                                               
the state  that should never have  mining, oil and gas,  or other                                                               
development;  however, the  Pebble mine  site was  designated for                                                               
mining, and companies  have made investments, so  they should not                                                               
be stopped from participating in a fair permitting process.                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ questioned  whether the  aforementioned                                                               
Fraser  Institute's  study  was  based  solely  on  a  change  in                                                               
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  said  he  could not  speak  to  the  reason;                                                               
however, he  opined the thought  is "... it  should not be  a, an                                                               
executive decision that's made ...."   He pointed out [the Fraser                                                               
Institute issued] a confidential study.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  questioned   the  generalization  that                                                               
Alaska's  permitting structure  is unstable  due to  a change  of                                                               
governor.  She  surmised in the U.S., a  change in administration                                                               
brings  a   mandate  for  an  agenda,   but  Alaska's  underlying                                                               
structure did not substantially change in the last four years.                                                                  
6:51:01 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE referred  to [Alaska  Bristol Bay  Mining Ban                                                               
Question, Ballot Measure 4, passed  11/4/14, known as Bristol Bay                                                               
Forever] that  requires after a  project has been  permitted, the                                                               
legislature  can make  a final  decision, which  makes mining  in                                                               
Bristol Bay a political process  as well as a permitting process,                                                               
and sends a "very dangerous message."                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS reminded  the speaker  the aforementioned                                                               
ballot  initiative  was  found  unconstitutional  by  the  Alaska                                                               
Supreme Court  thus is  no longer in  effect.   Furthermore, this                                                               
process   was   not   a  regulation   change   brought   by   the                                                               
administration  or  the  legislature   but  was  a  process  made                                                               
available to  the citizens of  Alaska by its  state constitution.                                                               
He remarked:                                                                                                                    
     If a resource company wants  to hold the legislature in                                                                    
     Alaska responsible for our citizens  being able to pass                                                                    
     an initiative  every two  years, so  be it,  but that's                                                                    
     not  going to  be  changing with  an administration  or                                                                    
     not, that's going to be up to its people's will.                                                                           
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE restated  the point  of the  Fraser Institute                                                               
study is  related to the  unpredictably of the  permitting regime                                                               
regardless of its source.                                                                                                       
6:54:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   HOPKINS  directed   attention  to   Commissioner                                                               
Brune's  perception   on  the  influence  of   local  voices  and                                                               
governments to the permitting process.   For example, a number of                                                               
communities  throughout the  region  of the  Donlin mine  project                                                               
have urged the  developers to use a dry stacking  method to store                                                               
the tailings  and thereby  avoid storing tailings  in a  pond for                                                               
1,000 years.   However, the economic viability of  the mine would                                                               
be affected.  He asked  where the commissioner's priorities would                                                               
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  acknowledged  the value  of  local,  Tribal,                                                               
village   corporation,   and   regional  corporation   input   is                                                               
incredibly  important.     However,  when  a   permitting  agency                                                               
reflects on a local community's  participation in the workings of                                                               
a project,  the local community's  desires may not  be consistent                                                               
with the best available technology or  the best science.  He said                                                               
it is important to "weigh"  the community's input and to mitigate                                                               
local concerns as much as possible.                                                                                             
6:56:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  expressed his understanding  dry stacking                                                               
technology  is  currently  in  use  in  Alaska;  he  asked  if  a                                                               
technology  is  well-known  and  favored  by  local  governments,                                                               
should Alaska require a developer  to absorb additional costs and                                                               
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE   said  investment  decisions  are   made  by                                                               
developers; he cautioned extra costs  may mean projects leave the                                                               
state.  He said  he was unsure as to the  best technology for the                                                               
Donlin  project;  however,  if  a  company  can  meet  permitting                                                               
requirements,  it should  have the  opportunity  [to advance  its                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS   recalled  the  Pebble  mine   site  was                                                               
designated  for mining  development  in the  '70s  before it  was                                                               
known  the full  Pebble  deposit is  nearly one  mile  deep.   He                                                               
     Why  should  we continue  to  maintain  our same  ideas                                                                    
     about  what  needs  to  happen on  that  land  from  an                                                                    
     agreement  50  years  ago,  when  we  didn't  have  the                                                                    
     technology  and   the  facts  then  that   we  do  now?                                                                    
     Shouldn't we be able to  understand that when the facts                                                                    
     change our opinions should change as well?                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE   agreed  one  should  not   use  50-year-old                                                               
technology to build a mine today.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  clarified his  question is  also directed                                                               
to  what is  known about  the land  and the  possible effects  of                                                               
aspects of a mine; for example, it  is now known the mine will be                                                               
a hole 5,000 feet deep.                                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  cautioned  against the  possibility  of  the                                                               
state  becoming  liable for  a  [prohibition  on taking  property                                                               
without just compensation]  claim.  He urged for the  best use of                                                               
technology,  science,  and strong  regulation  to  ensure a  safe                                                               
project; however, after an area  has been designated for resource                                                               
development,  and leases  or  claims are  granted,  if the  state                                                               
prevents developers from following  a federal or state permitting                                                               
process,  that sends  a very  a dangerous  message.   He restated                                                               
companies should be  required to meet very high  standards at the                                                               
state and federal level.                                                                                                        
7:01:07 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR TARR  observed Commissioner Brune  speaks in favor  of a                                                               
science-based   policy   but   recalled  the   governor   removed                                                               
references to climate  change from "the website,"  and thus there                                                               
is evidence that  leadership at the federal and  state levels may                                                               
not be  using science-based  systems; in  fact, although  one may                                                               
believe   permitting   processes   work  independently   of   the                                                               
administration, that  is not  what is  happening.   She expressed                                                               
her concern  about a certain  project being fast-tracked  on both                                                               
federal and  state levels,  which is  a conflicting  message with                                                               
the commissioner's statement.                                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER BRUNE assured the committee  his emphasis on science                                                               
is "spot on."   He restated DEC  can do no more and  no less than                                                               
what it  has authority to  do through legislation.   Further, DEC                                                               
is directed by regulation from the  Clean Water Act and the Clean                                                               
Air Act,  including the National Pollutant  Discharge Elimination                                                               
System, by rulings that are  specific to Alaska, but delegated by                                                               
the U.S. Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA).   Turning to the                                                               
Climate Action  for Alaska Leadership  Team, he advised  there is                                                               
no  delegation  of  authority from  the  legislature  on  climate                                                               
change, but said Alaska is  impacted by climate change, no matter                                                               
the cause,  and he gave  examples.  He  said he and  the governor                                                               
want to take action to mitigate the impacts of climate change.                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE RASMUSSEN  asked for the commissioner's  goals for                                                               
7:06:06 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  said he  is excited  about working  with good                                                               
scientists at DEC and those  who are passionate about their work.                                                               
He  said  he  retained  all  but  one  director  from  the  prior                                                               
administration.    Currently,  DEC  will focus  on  working  with                                                               
industry to  develop communities and  resources, and to  focus on                                                               
protecting  human  health  and  the  environment,  which  is  the                                                               
mission  of DEC.    He  found many  DEC  employees  did not  have                                                               
current evaluations  and now all  do, and he emphasized  the need                                                               
to develop  employees, promote employees from  within, and create                                                               
new opportunities.                                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ  expressed  her  ongoing  concern  that                                                               
budget  downsizing at  DEC has  slowed water  quality testing  in                                                               
senior centers,  and daycare centers,  and that kitchens  are not                                                               
being inspected in a timely manner.                                                                                             
COMMISSIONER   BRUNE   agreed    restaurant   and   water-quality                                                               
inspections have decreased, although  an emphasis has been placed                                                               
on  areas of  highest risk;  DEC seeks  to cross  train "rainbow"                                                               
employees  who can  perform multiple  tasks in  rural communities                                                               
thereby fully utilizing travel funds.   In addition, DEC proposes                                                               
to share  flights to rural  Alaska with the Department  of Public                                                               
Safety.  He suggested there  can be local solutions; for example,                                                               
Anchorage   has  taken   over   DEC   authority  for   restaurant                                                               
inspections and other communities may do so.                                                                                    
7:12:39 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ   inquired  as  to  the   date  of  the                                                               
aforementioned Fraser Institute report.                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER BRUNE said 2018.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  related in  2016, the  Fraser Institute                                                               
rated Alaska as  the highest jurisdiction in the  U.S. for mining                                                               
exploration  and  reported 75  percent  of  the time  respondents                                                               
received permits within six months.   She said she was curious as                                                               
to the circumstances of the change in rating.                                                                                   
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  stressed Alaska  needs the  highest standards                                                               
in  the  world  for  development and  the  highest  environmental                                                               
oversight; he said he was unsure of what affected the study.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK recalled  Commissioner Brune  has identified                                                               
regulations that are unnecessary and asked for an example.                                                                      
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE explained  the governor  wishes to  eliminate                                                               
unnecessary  or duplicative  regulation  within all  departments.                                                               
At  DEC, regulatory  reform will  address contingency  plans that                                                               
are so  complicated they  are unusable.   He  said DEC  will work                                                               
with  the   environmental  community  and  industry   to  improve                                                               
contingency plans.                                                                                                              
7:17:17 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  appreciated Commissioner  Brune's  science-                                                               
based  focus, and  he pointed  out sufficient  time is  needed to                                                               
ensure for transparency and  peer-review evaluations [of proposed                                                               
projects].    He  related  there  have  been  concerns  expressed                                                               
regarding  the   draft  environmental  impact   statement  (DEIS)                                                               
[issued 2/20/19  by the U.S.  Army Corps of Engineers  (USACE) on                                                               
the proposed Pebble  Project] and asked whether  USACE might have                                                               
made a mistake.                                                                                                                 
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  said it is  possible.  He agreed  science and                                                               
peer review  are important; he observed  industry's concern about                                                               
the Bristol Bay watershed assessment  was that the peer review of                                                               
that process  was insufficient.   He  said it  is possible  for a                                                               
federal agency to get something wrong.                                                                                          
CO-CHAIR TARR  gave examples of  statements made  by Commissioner                                                               
Brune in social  media in support of Pebble mine  and relating to                                                               
the  cost of  doing business  in Alaska.   She  said the  cost of                                                               
doing business  is irrelevant  to the mission  of DEC.   Further,                                                               
although Commissioner  Brune raised questions related  to bias by                                                               
the  previous executive  branch in  certain resource  development                                                               
proposals,   in  the   same   manner,   others  have   questioned                                                               
Commissioner Brune's  objectivity in  light of his  previous work                                                               
7:21:05 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  said at  the time of  his appointment  he did                                                               
not delete his  social media history in order  to be transparent.                                                               
He reviewed his employment history  with Anglo American, RDC, and                                                               
Cook Inlet  Region, Incorporated (CIRI),  and his service  to the                                                               
Alaska Miners Association.  While  working in the private sector,                                                               
he supported  "that project."   As commissioner  of DEC,  he said                                                               
science must be the foundation for  the decisions made by DEC; in                                                               
fact,  a  commissioner  cannot unilaterally  permit  any  project                                                               
without   supporting  documentation   that  will   survive  legal                                                               
CO-CHAIR  TARR read  a quote  that  indicated Commissioner  Brune                                                               
made a favorable decision about  the Pebble project before it was                                                               
evaluated.   She has heard  from those  who are troubled  by that                                                               
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  explained  a  commissioner  needs  "relevant                                                               
real-world experience"  and that he brings  experience from every                                                               
side.    He  restated  his  background  as  a  representative  of                                                               
industry, a biologist,  in the private sector for  a large mining                                                               
company,  and for  a regional  Native corporation;  therefore, he                                                               
has considered  projects from different perspectives,  which will                                                               
be an asset to DEC and the state.                                                                                               
7:26:23 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  HOPKINS  directed  attention to  the  health  and                                                               
economic concerns about  air quality in Fairbanks.   He asked for                                                               
the status  of [the EPA grants]  to address the [wood  smoke fine                                                               
particulate matter  (PM)2.5] issue  and how  to ensure  the state                                                               
fulfills its  responsibility to develop an  effective improvement                                                               
plan that will be acceptable to EPA.                                                                                            
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  said  DEC  has  developed  a  Serious  State                                                               
Implementation  Plan (SIP)  that will  be released  in early  May                                                               
[2019].   There  has  been contact  with  the governor's  office,                                                               
local  stakeholders,  the  private  sector,  and  throughout  the                                                               
community of Fairbanks.   He said he was frustrated  by the [2018                                                               
citizen's initiative] passed in  the Fairbanks North Star Borough                                                               
because  he seeks  local solutions  for local  problems; however,                                                               
DEC put together a plan that  would not have a negative impact on                                                               
development, but would  address the issue.  He  said progress has                                                               
been made by  the local community to reduce  burning on inversion                                                               
days;  for example,  although the  PM2.5 attainment  level is  35                                                               
[micrograms  per cubic  meter],  PM2.5 levels  have been  reduced                                                               
from 150  to 60-65.   No  Other Adequate  Source of  Heat (NOASH)                                                               
waivers are issued for those who have no other options.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS asked whether DEC  will be in contact with                                                               
the Interior delegation in this regard.                                                                                         
COMMISSIONER BRUNE said yes, possibly on [4/16/19].                                                                             
7:31:47 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP inquired  as to the background  of former DEC                                                               
commissioner, Larry Hartig.                                                                                                     
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  said Mr. Hartig was  on the board of  RDC and                                                               
was a  lawyer who represented  Alyeska Pipeline  Service Company,                                                               
the Red Dog mine, and  other resource development companies.  Mr.                                                               
Hartig was  a well-respected  commissioner; in  fact, there  is a                                                               
long history of DEC commissioners who have worked for industry.                                                                 
7:33:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KOPP referred to  issues, particularly in downtown                                                               
Anchorage,  where businesses  cannot make  improvements to  their                                                               
properties.  Representative Kopp  related businessowners feel DEC                                                               
regulations  do not  provide a  solution to  problems related  to                                                               
contaminants on  land that were  not treated by  previous owners.                                                               
He pointed out  previous legislation has addressed  this issue on                                                               
land owned by Alaska Native corporations.                                                                                       
7:35:29 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  explained [the  Comprehensive  Environmental                                                               
Response,  Compensation,  and  Liability Act  (CERCLA)]  requires                                                               
that  a party  in the  chain of  title to  land is  potentially a                                                               
responsible  party  even  if  there  is  no  prior  knowledge  of                                                               
contaminants; in the case of  Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act                                                               
(ANCSA) lands,  he suggested  DEC should  provide indemnification                                                               
to  developers to  clean up  ANCSA land  instead of  creating new                                                               
wetlands.   He said this is  an "outside of the  box [idea]" that                                                               
may provide a way to get  non ANCSA contaminated land cleaned up.                                                               
He  said  he would  review  the  circumstances of  properties  in                                                               
downtown Anchorage.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE HANNAN reviewed the  implementation and purpose of                                                               
the  Ocean  Ranger Program,  Division  of  Water, DEC,  that  was                                                               
created by ballot initiative and that  operates at no cost to the                                                               
state.    She pointed  out  the  cruise  ship industry  brings  2                                                               
million visitors and  crew to the Southeast  region and residents                                                               
do not  support the repeal  of the Ocean Ranger  program, without                                                               
additional  oversight, due  to  a history  of  violations by  the                                                               
industry.   The  cruise ship  industry  is not  similar to  other                                                               
industries because discharge permits  normally are for facilities                                                               
located in a  fixed location that are more easily  reported.  She                                                               
said  she  could not  support  repealing  the program  without  a                                                               
replacement to assure safe and clean water in Southeast Alaska.                                                                 
7:40:12 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE stated he will  work for a better Ocean Ranger                                                               
program.   He said  there is technology  that can  monitor cruise                                                               
ships; he acknowledged  the program was necessary  when it began,                                                               
but it is  not necessary now.  Ocean Ranger  program funds can be                                                               
used by  DEC to  develop technology that  is more  transparent to                                                               
the public; further,  DEC can make inspections at any  point.  He                                                               
said  there is  no other  industry that  has [24  hours-per-day/7                                                               
days-per-week (24/7)]  oversight and the  state seeks to  be fair                                                               
to industry.  In addition, DEC  holds the cruise ship industry to                                                               
higher standards  for water quality  than are required  of Alaska                                                               
towns and cities.                                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ  returned to  the issue  of contaminated                                                               
land  in Anchorage  and noted,  in addition  to business  owners,                                                               
residents are also affected.                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  TUCK  pointed  out  the  number  of  cruise  ship                                                               
visitors continues  to grow,  and the  Ocean Ranger  program does                                                               
not  hinder that  growth.   He agreed  with Commissioner  Brune's                                                               
recommendation to raise  the standards of local  communities.  He                                                               
related  the commissioner  stressed that  the designation  of the                                                               
Pebble mine site  was done 50 years ago, although  there could be                                                               
new  information.    Earlier  today,  there  was  testimony  that                                                               
information in [the  DEIS issued by USACE on  the proposed Pebble                                                               
Project] might have been hidden,  omitted or was conflicting.  He                                                               
asked  Commissioner  Brune  how  "red  flags"  raised  about  any                                                               
project should be handled.                                                                                                      
7:46:31 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE, to response  to Representative Tuck's comment                                                               
on the Ocean  Ranger program, said cruise ship  passengers pay $4                                                               
each for a program that is  duplicative and unnecessary.  He said                                                               
the state  should be  good stewards of  others' money  and should                                                               
use technology to improve the  program if appropriate.  In regard                                                               
to the Pebble  project, at this time DEC is  evaluating the USACE                                                               
permit application and  will provide comments.   When any project                                                               
submits  a  formal application,  DEC  will  incorporate the  best                                                               
science and technology available to formulate permits.                                                                          
CO-CHAIR TARR  reminded the committee  prior to the  Ocean Ranger                                                               
program cruise ships were dumping  damaging chemicals, which made                                                               
oversight  necessary.   She turned  to  the subject  of per-  and                                                               
polyfluroralkyl substances  (PFAS) and cautioned  awaiting action                                                               
by the  federal government could mean  a delay of 20  years.  For                                                               
example, there are  chemicals that have never  been evaluated for                                                               
impacts  to human  health or  the environment,  and new  research                                                               
shows there  are harmful effects to  both.  She opined  the state                                                               
has the  opportunity to prevent  pollution in its  drinking water                                                               
and  should not  wait  for federal  regulations  related to  PFAS                                                               
7:51:43 PM                                                                                                                    
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  agreed "if they're dumping  in Alaska's water                                                               
that's  grossly inappropriate  ...."   He  said he  met with  the                                                               
executive director  of Alaska Community Action  on Toxins (ACAT),                                                               
heard her  concerns about four pesticide  chemicals identified by                                                               
ACAT, and  referred her concerns  to the  regional administrator.                                                               
The  state   has  released  revised  regulations   for  pesticide                                                               
application used  to control invasive  species, which  requires a                                                               
quick response.   He  opined Alaska  has taken  the lead  on PFAS                                                               
contamination by  working with  the Department  of Transportation                                                               
and Public  Facilities on  a risk  matrix to  determine locations                                                               
where there may  be contamination - from the  use of firefighting                                                               
foam -  and to identify  areas where drinking water  supplies may                                                               
have  been affected.    He listed  the  affected communities  and                                                               
noted Kenai and Valdez [airports]  have been tested and PFAS were                                                               
not found.  For communities  where PFAS or perfluorooctanoic acid                                                               
(PFOA) levels  above 70 parts  per trillion have been  found, the                                                               
state  is  providing  drinking   water.    The  Federal  Aviation                                                               
Administration   (FAA),   U.S.  Department   of   Transportation,                                                               
requires  the   firefighting  foam  to  be   available  at  every                                                               
certified airport and  also requires annual testing  of the foam;                                                               
however, the  commissioner of DOT&PF  has stopped testing  of the                                                               
foam.   He said  equally effective  alternatives to  aqueous film                                                               
forming  foam (AFFF)  need  to be  developed  to prevent  further                                                               
contamination.   He reported  EPA's evaluation  of the  foam will                                                               
not be a  multiyear process and that he will  be meeting with his                                                               
counterparts in other states on this issue.                                                                                     
7:57:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  TARR urged  for the  state to  take action  and thereby                                                               
prompt a federal response.                                                                                                      
COMMISSIONER BRUNE  noted the state  is the responsible  party at                                                               
many  airports  in Alaska,  therefore,  addressing  the needs  of                                                               
affected communities is a high priority.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS  pointed out  DEC needs  to work  in close                                                               
contact with  local authorities and responsible  parties, such as                                                               
volunteer fire departments in volunteer service areas.                                                                          
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  agreed  and observed  some  industries  also                                                               
maintain  firefighting teams.   He  pointed out  another emerging                                                               
aspect of  the issue is how  to dispose of contaminated  soil; in                                                               
2016, DEC set a regulation limit  of 400 parts per trillion and a                                                               
pilot project is underway to  burn contaminated soil excavated at                                                               
Eielson Air Force Base.                                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE TALERICO pointed out  [mining] engineering is left                                                               
out in discussions; for example,  when [the science of building a                                                               
dam]   is  discussed,   also  included   should  be   aspects  of                                                               
engineering such  as compression,  compaction, and  the materials                                                               
used  in building  a dam.   Further,  his personal  experience is                                                               
that  graduates  of  the  University   of  Alaska  Fairbanks  are                                                               
engineers who are knowledgeable about Alaska's environment.                                                                     
COMMISSIONER  BRUNE  agreed  and  noted  Alaska  has  engineering                                                               
marvels that  have allowed  for responsible  resource development                                                               
in the  state:  the  Trans-Alaska Pipeline System  was engineered                                                               
to  endure  a  major  earthquake;  new  technology  for  tailings                                                               
facilities are specific to Alaska; Alaska utilizes engineering                                                                  
to ensure concurrent reclamation during development projects.                                                                   
8:08:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HOPKINS paraphrased from the following written                                                                   
     The  House Resources  Standing  Committee has  reviewed                                                                    
     the   qualifications  of   the  governor's   appointee,                                                                    
     Department   of  Environmental   Conservation  designee                                                                    
     Jason Brune, and recommends the  name be forwarded to a                                                                    
     joint  session  for  consideration.     This  does  not                                                                    
     reflect the  intent by any  of the members to  vote for                                                                    
     or against this individual  during any sessions for the                                                                    
     purposes of confirmation.                                                                                                  
8:08:41 PM                                                                                                                    
There being no further business before the committee, the House                                                                 
Resources Standing Committee meeting was adjourned at 8:08 p.m.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Brune Supporting Document - Letters of Opposition Combined 4.1.19.pdf HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM
Commissioner Brune
Brune Supporting Document - Letters of Support Combined 4.1.19.pdf HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM
Commissioner Brune
Jason Brune Resume.pdf HRES 3/15/2019 1:20:00 PM
HRES 3/25/2019 6:30:00 PM
HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM
Commissioner Brune
Brune Supporting Document - Letters of Support Set One 3.25.19.pdf HRES 3/25/2019 6:30:00 PM
HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM
Brune Supporting Document - Letters of Support Set Two 3.25.19.pdf HRES 3/25/2019 6:30:00 PM
HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM
Brune Supporting Document - Letters of Opposition Set One 3.25.19.pdf HRES 3/25/2019 6:30:00 PM
HRES 4/1/2019 6:30:00 PM