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TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1987
Ahmaogak, George N., Sr., mayor, North Slope Borough..
Brower, David R., Sierra Club Director and Chairman, Earth Island Institute..
Sawtelle, Allan, Cincinnati, OH..
ARCTIC COASTAL PLAIN PUBLIC LANDS
LEASING ACT OF 1987
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 1987
Washington, DC The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:50 a.m. in room SD366, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. J. Bennett Johnston, chairman, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. J. BENNETT JOHNSTON, A U.S.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF LOUISIANA The CHAIRMAN. Today the committee will begin consideration of legislative proposals dealing with oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
These hearings follow five oversight hearings conducted by the committee this summer on the Secretary of the Interior's report on oil and gas leasing in ANWR and on the general proposition: "Should ANWR be open for oil and gas leasing, exploration, and development?"
The legislation currently pending before the committee is S. 1217, a bill introduced by Senators Murkowski and Stevens, who authorize and direct the Secretary of the Interior to expeditiously open ANWR to oil and gas activities in an environmentally sound manner.
Today we will hear from the Department of the Interior, EPA, the State of Alaska, regarding this legislation. Tomorrow representatives of the petroleum industry and other groups supporting S. 1217 will appear before the committee. On Thursday, representatives of several conservation groups and individuals opposed to this legislation will appear before the committee.
Let me say at the outset, I am aware that there are many who do not want ANWR opened under any circumstances or under any terms or conditions. I also know that there are many who want ANWR opened now and believe that without any further regulation by the Congress, the area can be explored and oil and gas developed without significant environmental impact.
I am willing to stipulate that both sides of this proposition can provide hundreds of witnesses, who could spend hundreds of hours debating the question before the committee of should ANWR be opened.
I believe that, based on the committee's hearing so far, the hearings that are being held in the House, the committee's trip this
summer, and the intense lobbying efforts by both sides, each member of the committee probably has most of the information necessary to make that basic decision.
In an effort to explore some new territory over the next three days, I have asked that each witness make specific comments relative to the legislative proposal currently pending before us and to provide the committee with specific and constructive suggestions about how a leasing program in ANWR should work if Congress decides to open this area.
During the next three days, I want to explore what kinds of stipulations, rules, regulations, mitigation measures, et cetera, would be necessary and desirable should we decide to open ANWR.
Regardless of what the committee ultimately decides about leasing in ANWR, this kind of information is essential to our deliberations and I expect the cooperation of all witnesses in making that record.
Each witness should submit his written statement for the record and summarize the main points in as brief a manner as possible. That will give us time for questions and discussions.
As you all know, we have submitted to the members of the committee that basic question of, should we proceed with legislation in this Congress to provide for opening of ANWR under some terms and conditions. And the committee voted privately by a margin of over two to one to proceed.
No committee member is bound by that vote. That does not indicate that they will necessarily vote for any particular form of a bill. But it does as far as I am concerned indicate on behalf of the committee a desire to proceed forward and get expeditiously a bill which the committee will then vote on, and I would expect pass out of this committee.
So I feel bound by a strong two to one majority on the committee to proceed and proceed expeditiously. What we wish to do in these hearings is to get to the information from which to make decisions.
The great argument about should we proceed under any circumstances has in effect at least tentatively been decided by this committee. The committee says yes, under proper circumstances we should proceed. And for that reason, I hope we can narrow the focus of these hearings to determine under what circumstances we should proceed.
And I would like to call on my esteemed ranking minority member, Senator McClure.
[The text of S. 1217 follows:
To amend the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 to authorize the Secretary of the
Interior to lease, in an expeditious and environmentally sound manner, the public lands within the Coastal Plain of the North Slope of Alaska for oil and gas exploration, development, and production.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 15 (legislative day, May 13), 1987 Mr. MUBKOWSKI (for himself and Mr. STEVENS) introduced the following bill;
which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
To amend the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 to authorize the
Secretary of the Interior to lease, in an expeditious and environmentally sound manner, the public lands within the Coastal Plain of the North Slope of Alaska for oil and gas exploration, development, and production.
1 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
3 That this Act may be cited as the “Arctic Coastal Plain 4 Public Lands Leasing Act of 1987”.