KTUU (NBC): Anchorage women's summit closes with U.S. senators' speeches

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of two U.S. senators who spoke about energy challenges facing Alaska and the nation in Anchorage Saturday morning. Her speech was part of the closing ceremony for the three-day National Women's Leadership Summit.

Dozens of women attended Murkowski's speech at the Anchorage Downtown Marriott, and several had a chance to ask questions on issues that are on the minds of many across the nation. Murkowski and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell addressed comments and questions at the summit's closing ceremonies.

"To gather so many women who are so focused on these very key areas for our state, for our nation, for our world is really quite exciting," Murkowski said.

The summit focused on energy, the environment, education and the economy. Renewable energy was an overriding topic.

"It's going to be the topic not just for one year as health care was, but it's going to be the topic for the next few years," said Dr. Laura Badeaux with the Louisiana Center for Women and Government, which organized the summit.

Murkowski emphasized Alaska's wind and geothermal potential, and its benefits for the future to combat the high energy costs that are hitting rural Alaska. She says there needs to be a way to address both short-term and long-term concerns, and it's urgent to alleviate reliance on diesel fuel.

"I don't think you can be in a state that provides a greater example of how we need to utilize and access our resources, that we have such abundance, but we want to do it in a manner that allows us to continue to have the lifestyle that we have," Murkowski said.

In addition to the hurdles Alaska faces due to its geography and size, Murkowski adds that there's the challenge of finding a balance on how to access energy resources while caring for the environment -- a challenge many are still trying to overcome.

"I just hope that out of this, that we have come up with some ideas, some ways in which we will break down the barriers and really help the United States be world leaders in energy policy," Cantwell said.

The Louisiana Center for Women and Government's next leadership summit is set for the fall, in Arkansas.

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Source: By Christine Kim. Broadcast June 11, 2010