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Juneau, AK 99801
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Senator Cathy Giessel
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March 11, 2013
Greetings Neighbors and Friends,
With a little over a month left of session, the Senate is working hard to accomplish our goals and address crucial issues. I have been attending Senate Finance meetings twice a day to hear the discussion on SB 21 Oil and Gas Production Tax. I serve on three Senate Finance Subcommittees (Dept. of Environmental Conservation, Dept. of Labor & Workforce Development, and Dept. of Natural Resources). We expect to receive the operating budget from the House shortly. This past week, the Senate unanimously passed SB 1 Alaska Mining Day. The bill now has 13 co-sponsors and 2 cross-sponsors. I sponsored this bill to highlight the industry and the numerous individuals that played a role in developing and settling the territory and the state. It is an industry that continues to contribute to the economy and character of the state. In fact, mining is Alaska’s second largest sector of industry and provides high wage jobs. Now this bill heads to the House for consideration. SB 2 Interstate Mining Compact & Commission is on the Senate floor for a vote today. SB 2 authorizes the state to join and participate in the Interstate Mining Compact. The Interstate Mining Compact Commission is a multi-state governmental agency/organization that represent the natural resources and related environmental protection interests of its member states. By uniting with 19 other member states we magnify our voice as we seek to implement effective regulatory programs that will promote best practices and secure a vibrant state mineral economy. The bill now has 11 co-sponsors.
Alaska Mental Health Board/Advisory Board on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse:
Diana Bline, Sen. Giessel, Fred Glenn and Michael Kerosky
It was a whirlwind conference, with additional meetings on both sides of the Energy Council work itself. Here is a summary of those meetings.
The Arctic Caucus, collaboration between Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories, met on Thursday. This is a subcommittee of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) group, and the subcommittee was created by Senator Lesil McGuire during her term as president of PNWER. The Arctic Caucus focuses on all issues arctic, shared by our Canadian neighbors to the east.
This year, our Caucus meeting focused on the Arctic Council. This international organization has 8 members: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. The organization was created in 1991, under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy. The purpose was to promote cooperation, coordination and interaction between the Arctic nations related to the environment, resource development and health and welfare of their people. Only nations with territory in the Arctic may be members. The US is a member because of Alaska. There are also 6 Arctic indigenous groups who are participants, representing the major people groups living in the arctic.
The US chaired the Arctic Caucus in 1998-2000 and our turn rolls around again in 2015-17, after Canada (2013-15).
Alaska has significant oil and gas resources both offshore and onshore. Development of these resources must be done carefully and with input from Alaskans. We have significantly increased international shipping of commodities occurring over our northern border and through the Bering Strait. Surveillance and emergency response capability is critical to protecting Alaska.
For all these reasons, and more, the PNWER Arctic Caucus is such an important meeting. This year’s meeting included Evan Bloom, Director of Ocean and Arctic Affairs, US State Department and Sheila Riordon, Minister of Political Affairs, Embassy of Canada. Discussion centered on search and rescue capability, spill response coordination, marine protection, geomapping, workforce development…and more.
Also joining the meeting were Senators Begich and Murkowski. Dr. John Farrell, Executive Director of the US Arctic Research Commission, presented progress on their research agenda.
Meetings with Congressional members are a vital part of Alaskans visiting DC. I joined with other Senators and Representatives to make office visits to half a dozen House and Senate members from other states. Predominant message was advocating for the opening of the 1002 area of ANWR, but also answering questions about our resource development activities and the benefit to US energy security.
The Western Caucus is a monthly meeting of Senate and Congressional staff. As the Chair-elect of the Energy Producing States Coalition (EPSC), I attended this morning meeting and came away encouraged that there are more ways to communicate our Alaska issues and collaborate with other states. I presented the Alaska issues, while the EPSC chair talked more broadly about the shared issues of endangered species act, EPA rulings and other federal over-reach issues. We got a warm reception and invitation to continue to communicate with the Western Caucus.
The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission is convening on March 23 in Juneau. The D.C. trip provided several opportunities to prepare for the March meeting. While there, I joined other Commission members, Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron, in visiting key officials in the Department of the Interior, State Department and the White House. These are folks who not only write policy related to the Arctic, they compose Executive Orders as directed by the President. Speaking in person to policy officials, looking them in the eye, sharing handshakes and discussing issues has huge impact and forms relationships that can benefit both sides as policy is crafted. These are priceless opportunities.
Energy Council meetings had a distinct Arctic focus, with Alaska Senator Bert Stedman serving as chair this coming year. We heard from international energy affairs experts, as well as the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (which has to approve Susitna Dam, LNG export). ExxonMobil Senior Arctic Consultant spoke about innovations in Arctic development, as well as UAF Vice Chancellor for Research, Mark Myers.
I really enjoyed the presentation by the US Energy Information Administration on the forecasts of energy availability and use. The presenter, Mr. Adam Sieminski, had spent a summer in Fairbanks in his younger years.
The president of SaskPower spoke on carbon capture and storage, especially carbon’s value as an Enhanced Oil Recovery technique. The Navy presented their innovations in terms of alternative fuels.
It was a busy four days.
Senate Resources Committee
The Senate Resources Committee considered and moved from committee SJR 10 Arctic: Policy, USCG, Arctic Council. SJR 10 promotes Alaska’s international interests by urging Congress to take a leadership role in guiding international Arctic policy through our nation’s diplomatic, military, and economic means. The resolution urges the United States to include a designated representative from Alaska as a member of its official delegation to the Arctic Council. SJR 10 also requests that Congress and the President provide the United States Coast Guard with sufficient funding to expand its Arctic operations, retrofit the nation’s existing icebreaker fleet, and build any necessary vessels and facilities to aid in mapping the United States outer continental shelf. I sponsored this resolution and 11 of my colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors.
On Monday, March 11, we will hear SB 54 Extend Hair Crab & Scallop Fishery, HB 36 Exempt Discharges from Munitions, and SCR 1 State Food Resource Development Group.
Senate Resources Committee meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3:30 P.M. You can watch on your computer at http://akl.tv
To watch meetings from last week follow the link at: 3/4/13 meeting
Senate Resources Committee
I apologize for cancelling the town hall meetings on March 16th. I was just informed that all Senate travel is cancelled for that weekend. Please continue to contact my office with any questions, thoughts, and concerns. I will not be able to get to our district communities until after the legislative session is over on April 14. I look forward to seeing you in the summer and fall.
CANCELLED Saturday March 16th
CANCELLED Seward Community Library & Museum 10:30am-11:30am
CANCELLED Cooper Landing 2:00pm-3:00pm
CANCELLED Sterling Senior Center 4:30pm-5:30pm
Peninsula Teleconferenced Town Hall Meeting: Thursday, March 14 at 6:00 P.M.
Join Legislators from your area for a town hall meeting via teleconference. The Legislative Information Offices in Kenai, Homer and Seward will be open to individuals interested in connecting with legislators representing the Kenai Peninsula. This is a great time to voice your concerns, questions, and comments to your local representatives. For more information contact my office at 1-800-892-4843.
I have the BEST district in the State and want to highlight our communities in each newsletter. Today I highlight Nikiski and Anchorage Hillside…
- Population - 4,623, unincorporated community on Kenai Peninsula
- Major landmarks or attractions - Numerous oil companies produce and explore oil and natural gas from on-shore and off-shore facilities. Home to the Tesoro oil refinery, Alaska’s largest refinery. Conoco Phillips LNG export facility. Currently moth-balled Agrium plant. Oil companies and industry support companies have facilities in the area. In addition, the area provides tourism opportunities and commercial and sport fishing.
- General geography - 9 miles north of the City of Kenai
- An interesting historical event that took place 100 years ago -
The area was homesteaded in the 1940s; it was traditionally Kenaitze Indian territory. In 1957 oil was discovered on the Kenai Peninsula.
It’s a pleasure to serve and represent District N – the BEST district in the State!
- Population - a suburban area of the Municipality of Anchorage with 6,000+ households, nearly all with individual on-site water wells and wastewater treatment.
- Major landmarks or attractions - Flat Top Mountain in Chugach State Park, Potter Marsh, which is part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge
- General geography - southeast area of Anchorage, extending from the “flatlands” east to the boundary of the Chugach State Park, including Potter Marsh
- An interesting historical event that took place 100 years ago -
Wesley “Mike” Michael used to look up on the hillside from the Seward Highway and could name the owners of the occasional yard light seen shining. His dad would say, “Someday, that whole area will be covered in lights…”