Support of CS HB 77
Before Senate Resources
Good evening madam chair and members of the committee. For the record my name is Rick Rogers, Executive Director of the Resource Development Council. RDC is a statewide business association representing forestry, oil and gas, mining, tourism, and fishing industries. Our mission is to grow Alaska through responsible resource development.
Having sat through testimony in opposition of CSHB77 Wednesday and today, I have to question what specific legislation many opposed to this bill are speaking to. I assure you that if this legislation put our renewable salmon resource in jeopardy, removed Alaskans from decisions regarding public resources or extended unbridled power to the DNR commissioner, RDC would stand in opposition.
To the contrary we have reviewed the bill and amendments carefully and we don’t see where it does any of those things. The bill does make systemic improvements to what has become a very complex set of statutes authorizing DNR’s work. These changes are needed to help prevent future backlog and delays.
Much in this bill is about helping smaller businesses and Alaskans, and making DNR more efficient. With budget deficits, can we really afford having DNR adjudicate every individual mooring buoy when a General Permit can serve the public interest? The amendments to the General Permit language are appropriate to limit their scope.
The status quo on water reservations is bad public policy. In the 1990s, Greenpeace attempted to frustrate oil development near the Kuparuk River by seeking a water reservation. Fortunately in that case the facts did not support their claim as the waters used in development were not connected to the Kuparuk River. However the flawed law that allowed that attempt to cut off Alaska’s economic life blood is still on the books.
We believe the CSHB77 adequately addresses this issue by allowing persons to apply for water reservations and vesting a certification with a State agency. If the concern is really about protecting resources, formerly opposed parties to this bill should now be satisfied. If, however, the desire for some is about keeping the status quo as another blunt legal instrument to shut down resource development, then they will likely remain dissatisfied with the amendments.
We encourage this committee to pass this new CSHB77.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment.