Senator Frank Murkowski on Alaska Public Radio (APRN) Statewide Call-in Show: Talk of Alaska May 9, 2000 Steve Heimel, Joel Southern, Hosts
TRANSCRIPTION OF CARA RELATED DISCUSSION
Host: Another question on the same issue from Ray in Anchorage. Welcome to Talk of Alaska Ray.
Ray: My question is on your three billion dollar OCS bill. Senator, many people in my circle think a lot of you and we are trying our darndest to understand why on earth you would be pushing these CARA trust funds that are going to increase money for federal land acquisition in Alaska by sixteen times. Why should even one more acre of private land be taken over by the feds here? SIXTEEN TIMES INCREASE IN LAND ACQUISITION MONEY ö ARE YOU SURE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING WITH THIS??
Murkowski: Well, that's a pretty good question: "are you really sure what you're doing?" And I'm taking the vein that it was intended. And yeah, I'm sure I know what I'm doing because the ship has left. If you look at the Presidents bill - and he's had it out for some time - he proposes about $1.4 billion in his land legacy that would simply give the federal government the funding to address its priorities with regard buying and taking private land, as well as public land, and re-designating it in the manner in which he sees fit from the standpoint of various environmental interests who have made suggestions, whether it be in Montana with a large withdrawal there, or recently, the Baca Ranch which was a large withdrawal in New Mexico. My point is, there's a tremendous build up of frustration because the local government entities haven't been able to participate in any kind of revenue sharing similar with what they would share if there was oil and gas found on land. There's nothing in the offshore area.
Now, I'm very much opposed to the President's land legacy program because it doesn't give Congress and oversight responsibility to evaluate not only the merits of it but the funding. What happens is - it's kind of confusing to try to explain it in a few minutes - is the administration, more often than not, in the closing days when the Congress goes in and says "alright, if we want to get the balance of the legislature package done, here is what we the administration want". That's been the direct funding that's occurred in the appropriation process, often times without authorization, and that's not in the public interest. We had Head Waters in California, a long list of Federal withdrawals, now what we've got in this legislation is a compromise if you will to try to address the reality that there's great frustration for sharing a revenue. This will give the states, the impacted areas, a role in determining where this money is to be expended. Now, I'm going to try and have a provision in here for no net loss. The no net loss concept, I think, would address the callers concerns because it would say that we can't take and retire any more land than we would equally put back and make available. Now, that's probably the best we can do, but let me reassure the caller on a couple of other realities. There's a lot of, well I guess you would say, momentum behind this language but there's a lack of realism because the appropriators are very much opposed to it because they lose somewhere in the area of half of the OCS revenue stream, which is about 3¸ to 4 billion dollars. So they say, where do you make this up? Where do you going to find the offset? And that's very significant. The budgeteers also are opposed to this legislation so while it's going to pass the House overwhelmingly, it's got some real problems in the Senate...
Ray: Senator, with all due respect, my question is about buying land in Alaska, Federal acquisition of private land in Alaska. You screamed bloody murder when the Exxon Valdez oil spill trust money was diverted into massive acquisition, but with your CARA bill you're going to generate a trust fund that's going to buy far, far, far more land than you were vigorously complaining about with the Exxon Valdez oil spill trust. The price is too high..
Host: Is there something you have in....
Ray: The price is too high. How can this possibly be good for Alaska?
Murkowski: Well, I would suggest our office provide the caller with what the bill says, because, first of all, land must be in existing conservation areas. There's various provisions - there has to be a willing seller for example...
Ray: Senator, that was dropped out...
Murkowski: Let me finish...No it's not, this is in OUR bill. This is the Senate Bill 25. It has to be within units established by act of Congress. It has to be two thirds of the money spent east of the 100 meridian, which is primarily east of the Mississippi, and the purchases of over 5 million required Congressional approval. So we've got some safeguards in here that are responsible, but I'm telling the caller that this bill's got some real problems from the standpoint of the appropriators and the authorizers. Now there are three bills in, there's the administrations bill, Young's bill, and my own bill. And, as I told the caller earlier, I would hope we could get some kind of provision for no net loss. Now the President says if that's in there he's going to veto it. But, the caller is quite right, we don't make land anymore and there's been such a huge amount taken out of the private sector that I'm not suggesting that we allow a floodgate to open up here but there's some land, obviously, that it's appropriate that it be given over for the consideration of the public benefit in limited areas under I think the willing seller and the considerations that we've tried to put in here, which we think are meaningful. But...
Ray: But Senator, if those willing sellers...
Murkowski: But don't go off and spend this money by any means because this money has got a long way to go before it ever becomes real.
Host: Well, Ray, thank you very much. And thank you very much Senator. And Ray, I want to thank you for raising those concerns. Clearly this is something that needs to be watched and we'll be talking about a lot more. I think you brought up some really important things to think about.
Ray: Is the Senator willing to filibuster if those property protections are stripped out?
Murkowski: Well, I'll be happy to respond to the caller based on what kind of a debate we get in and whether this bill ultimately moves or not. I told the caller what I was prepared to defend and that was no net loss.
Host: And I guess we should say, just to set context here, that the Senator Murkowski's committee is supposed to have a mark-up on June 14th looking at these various bills, because you're going to have to come up with something different, obviously, that Don Young has come up with, because of the dynamics of your committee with your colleagues from the west and you know, he's right, this is a long way to go before there's any kind of reality about this bill. And also, you've raised some other linkages with President Clinton. I believe recently you mentioned to me the other day that you raised the issue of land withdrawals. I mean, do you feel that there's a linkage in between......
[discussion of Sen. Murkowski's visit with President Clinton over CARA and his warning to the President over continued administrative withdrawals... Clinton did even more of them two days later]
[Rest not transcribed, not related to CARA]
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