The Hill: Murkowski warns climate change 'directly impacting' Alaska

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Tuesday said climate change is "directly impacting" her home state's way of life.

“It’s impacting subsistence. It’s impacting food security. It’s certainly impacting our economy with our fisheries,” Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said at the panel's first hearing this year devoted to climate change.

“Clearly the effort here is to get a bipartisan conversation going,” she added. “I think that the rhetoric surrounding the issue of climate and climate change can be so heated and so animated and so, often times, just a very toxic discussion that you can’t get to focusing on the solutions.”

The Senate panel heard from experts on how climate change was impacting the electricity sector. Murkowski and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), highlighted their energy-producing states in their remarks, though.

Murkowski said her state is seeing diminishing sea ice and a change in wildlife migration patterns. And she expressed concerns that rural communities throughout her state aren’t using green energy.

“Many remote communities in Alaska are heavily reliant on expensive diesel fuel for heating and power,” she said. “Integrating cleaner energy technologies, often with a microgrid, can decrease reliance on diesel and provide greater reliability.”

Manchin said any efforts to address climate must not hurt states such as West Virginia, a major coal producer.

“The path to a climate solution must offer states like West Virginia opportunities, not additional economic burdens,” Manchin said.

“The solutions must be grounded in reality, which requires the recognition that fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon,” he added.

Manchin also pressed the experts to endorse an energy strategy that would include room for coal.

The senator asked experts why the U.S. should reduce its coal use when over 60 percent of China’s energy comes from coal and 70 percent of India's.

“They ain’t changing anytime quick,” Manchin said.

By:  Dorothy Mills-Gregg
Source: The Hill