Resource Development Council

RDC Testimony:
HB106 - ACMP, and email follow up

Testimony provided by Jason Brune, RDC

April 11, 2011

Chairman Stoltze, Chairman Thomas, members of the Finance Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. For the record, my name is Jason Brune and I am the executive director of the Resource Development Council (RDC). RDC’s membership is extremely diverse and has members on every side of this contentious issue, including oil and gas and mining companies, Alaska Native Corporations, and local governments such as the North Slope Borough.

Our previous testimony before House Resources endorsed the 6-year extension proposed in the original bill. We also endorsed the Governor’s four principles for potential changes to the program.

(1. The ACMP must maintain a predictable process.
2. The ACMP must be maintained as a strong state program, where participant input is valued.
3. ACMP standards and enforceable policies must be objective, and must not duplicate or redefine existing authorities.
4. Coastal districts should be afforded a meaningful role for input on projects, but should not possess a veto decision over projects.)

Over the course of the last week, members of my Board held several meetings since the CS came forward from the Resources Committee. I also participated in a number of other meetings and conversations with other affected parties in the past week.

Let me be clear, we are not opposed to changes in the Alaska Coastal Management Program and indeed are committed to enhance local input and ensure coastal districts feel they have a meaningful role for input on projects.

Unfortunately, once again, this complex issue is being brought before us with less than 10 days to provide constructive feedback. This issue is way too important to my members to be dealt with without thorough review. Our members need predictability in their permitting process, and a number of the items in this CS have brought ambiguity to the process. As just one example, the new language states in section 17 (page 13, line 20) “and is not inconsistent with the statewide standards.” Why not just say “is consistent with the statewide standards?” This type of language ambiguity brings a lot of concern and confusion to my members. Substantively, we have concerns with a number of sections, including section 12, section 14, and section 18.

Specifically regarding Section 12 we recommend the deletion of the language in subsection b (lines 20 and 21 on page 10) that states “unless the state or federal agency specifically objects.” We also recommend the deletion of subsection d (lines 25-31 on page 10 and line 1 on page 11).

Regarding Section 14, page 12, section C (lines 15-18), we recommend the language be changed to, “shall be considered by the commissioners of the resource agencies within 45 days after the initial request for an elevation under this paragraph. If the decision is not rendered after 45 days, the commissioner of the department will have 10 days to render the final consistency determination and certification.”

In section 18, clearly, special management areas need to be defined in much better detail.

And finally, we endorse the idea of having a Coastal Policy Board that comprises all of the affected parties, modeled after the Alaska Board of Forestry. Using this model, the Coastal Policy Board could be comprised of all of the entities that are included in the ACMP process. For example, 4 members from coastal districts and 4 members from the regulated community (fishing, mining, timber, and oil and gas). The Board of Forestry acts as a consensus minus one requirement. This ultimately forces compromise between all of the involved parties. The Board of Forestry is an award winning model that has been endorsed by the Alaska Conservation Alliance and RDC through winning the inaugural Tileston Award three years ago given jointly by both organizations. I believe this would be a great model for this committee to consider.

With that, thank you for the opportunity to testify today and I appreciate you taking comment on this very important issue.

April 11, 2011 Sent via email

Dear Members of the Finance Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify this morning on HB106. As requested, I am attaching a copy of my testimony in the body of this email. Also, I would like to provide the statutory detail to the Board of Forestry model I referenced in the hearing.

AS 41.17.041. Board of Forestry.

(a) The Board of Forestry is established in the division.
(b) The board is composed of nine members appointed by the governor:
(1) a representative of a commercial fishermen's organization;
(2) a representative of a Native corporation established under 43 U.S.C. 1601 et seq. (Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act);
(3) a representative of an environmental organization;
(4) a representative of a forest industry trade association;
(5) a professional fish or wildlife biologist who is not employed in that capacity by a state, municipal, or federal government agency, except for university employment;
(6) a professional forester who is not employed in that capacity by a state, municipal, or federal government agency, except for university employment;
(7) a representative of a mining organization;
(8) a representative of a recreational organization; and
(9) the state forester, who serves ex officio and without a vote.
(c) The state forester is the presiding officer of the board and shall, in consultation with the board, establish procedures for scheduling and organizing board meetings. Seven voting members of the board constitute a quorum. Each decision of the board requires the affirmative vote of each voting member present less one.
(d) A board member who is unable to attend a meeting may designate an alternate who possesses the same qualifications as the board member.
(e) The division shall serve as staff to the board. The department, the deputy commissioner, and the Department of Environmental Conservation shall provide technical staffing and information as needed by the board.