Articles & Op-eds


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: EDITORIAL: Securing response: Alaska’s senators seek to solidify funding for oil spill response fund

Alaska's senators have offered a small change to federal law that would help ensure money is available for rapid, large-scale response to oil spills such as the one in the Gulf of Mexico. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich introduced legislation that would extend and expand funding for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The federal fund is fed by an eight-cent tax on every barrel of oil. It has about $1.6 billion in it, but that might not be enough to handle large or multiple spills. The sen… Continue Reading


The Hill: Murkowski wants exemption from consumer bureau for banks, credit unions with less than $5 billion

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is backing legislation that would exempt banks and credit unions with less than $5 billion in assets from the reach of a new consumer regulator. The financial overhaul bill under debate in the Senate aims largely at big banks and Wall Street financial firms. A centerpiece of the bill is a new consumer protection regulator with broad power to set and enforce rules over financial products, such as home loans and credit cards. House and Senate lawmakers have looked … Continue Reading


Alaska Public Radio Network:

Alaska's Senators have introduced a bill that would boost the amount of money oil companies are taxed to pay for spill disasters. Their legislation comes as BP struggles to plug and clean up a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Listen to APRN's audio here.… Continue Reading


KTUU (NBC): Alaska's senators want to beef up U.S. spill liability fund

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Alaska's two U.S. senators want to beef up the nation's oil spill liability fund. The fund is administered by the Coast Guard and pays for response costs and damages in cases where the responsible party hasn't paid. The fund currently has $1.6 billion, but Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski want to raise that to $10 billion by increasing the fee oil companies pay from 8 cents to 9 cents per barrel. "It's not just about the Gulf of Mexico, it's any oil spill that may occ… Continue Reading


KTUU (NBC): Murkowski says containing spill, not laying blame, should be focus

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is threatening the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. While engineers attempt to find a way to plug the leaks, BP and the Coast Guard are working with private citizens to protect the coast. Recent developments in the weather and ocean currents have been favorable, keeping most of the oil offshore and giving coastal defenders time to prepare. In Washington D.C., Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski says now is not the time to plac… Continue Reading


ABC News: GOP: Hold Off on BP Hearings; Senators Avoid Terror Story for Now

The day after a suspected terrorist was arrested trying to flee the country, Republican senators didn't even mention the threat at their weekly press conference. Instead, they focused on the Gulf of Mexico oil slick and urged Democrats to slow down Capitol Hill hearings on who is to blame for disaster. Despite some early indications that Republicans would go on the offensive toward the Obama administration for arresting Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, and reading him his Miranda… Continue Reading


Washington Post: Republicans reject 'blame game' on oil spill

At a small scrum inside the Capitol, reporters asked Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) variations of the same question -- did he assign any blame to the Obama administration for the disaster on the Gulf Coast? "That's not constructive at this point," said an exasperated LeMieux, turning away. "I don't want to play that part of the game." LeMieux was one of multiple senators who spent part of the day distancing themselves from the "who's to blame?" narrative running through conservative -- and other… Continue Reading


KTVA (CBS): Alaska Delegation Opposes Add'l Wilderness Review of ANWR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a revised Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Alaska delegation, made up of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich along with Rep. Don Young today submitted a joint letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar opposing Fish and Wildlife's proposal which would include a wilderness review of ANWR. While the delegates unanimously favor an update to the 22-year-old plan, they firml… Continue Reading


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska senators seek review into Gulf oil rig explosion

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's senators want answers about the explosion of an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. In a statement released Thursday, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who is a ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the committee will be having a hearing Thursday to review issues about offshore oil and natural gas development. "As we look to expand exploration off our nation's coasts, it's critical that we take every possible precaution to guard against simil… Continue Reading


National Journal: Senate Hearing To Probe Oil Rig Explosion

A Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing next Thursday on offshore drilling will take on a larger significance in light of the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico and the subsequent leak that officials estimate could reach the Louisiana shoreline by Friday. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is scheduled to testify. In a press release today, the panel's top Republican, Lisa Murkowski, called it "critical that we take every possible precaution to guard against similar accidents." … Continue Reading


Anchorage Daily News: Murkowski on oil spill in the Gulf: "Tragedy on many levels"

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Coast Guard officials are at the White House now, giving a briefing on the government and industry response to the widening oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from British Petroleum's offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon. The incident is one "of national significance," Napolitano said. The spillage threatens to dwarf the amount of oil leaked by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad Allen told the Miami Herald. Meanwhile, … Continue Reading


National Journal: Murkowski: Reid Is Playing Politics

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is frustrated with what she views as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's political posturing. Speaking to Tuesday evening at the Capitol, the top Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee took sides with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in his ongoing dispute with Reid, who faces a tough re-election fight in Nevada, over whether immigration reform should be tabled this year so a climate bill can move forward. "I think Senator Graham is… Continue Reading


Op-Ed: Finance regulation plan may hurt small Alaska lenders

No one disputes the need to corral Wall Street and rein in the largest financial institutions that were responsible for the economic crisis. A major piece of the back and forth debate in the Senate this week has centered on whether the pending financial reform legislation casts too wide of a net, ensnaring small, community-based banks and credit unions that had nothing to do with the economic meltdown. So even though negotiators have reached an agreement to debate the financial regulatory refor… Continue Reading


Alaska Public Radio Network: Murkowski Pessimistic About US Ratifying Sea Treaty This Year

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and experts in Arctic policy are pessimistic that the U.S. will ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty this year, even as and Russia say their countries were able to hammer out an Arctic border dispute this week thanks to the Treaty. Norway's Deputy Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide details the agreement Norway and Russia reached this week on their Arctic border dispute. He spoke Wednesday at a conference on Arctic security at CSIS in Washington. Listen to the audio at… Continue Reading


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Alaska Sens. Begich, Murkowski split on financial reform bill

FAIRBANKS - Alaska's senators are split on the sweeping financial reform bill the Senate is expected to debate today. While senators on both sides of the aisle believe reform is necessary to prevent another financial crisis like the one that hit Wall Street in 2008, they disagree about what to do. Democrats are looking to use the legislation to regulate banks, while Republicans are arguing against the consumer protection provisions championed by President Obama. Republicans voted for three day… Continue Reading


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Murkowski looks to expand Eielson

Sen. Lisa Murkowski is hopeful the Air Force will station some of its next generation refueling tankers at Eielson Air Force Base. The senator questioned the deputy director of the Air National Guard last week about the possibility of Eielson's 168th Air Refueling Wing receiving the still-in-development KC-X tanker. Murkowski noted that the 168th is the only refueling unit in an Arctic territory and transfers more fuel than any other tanker group when refueling active duty aircraft in the Paci… Continue Reading


KTUU (NBC): Coal-to-liquid plant at Eielson still under consideration

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A top Air Force official told Sen. Lisa Murkowski Thursday that a coal-to-liquid plant at Eielson Air Force Base is still under consideration. Murkowski questioned Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Terry Yonkers, about the issue at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations- Military Construction Subcommittee. Yonkers said the Air Force is conducting feasibility and financial viability studies and also conducting a business case analysis to see if an enha… Continue Reading


Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: EDITORIAL: Federal issue: Volcanic ash isn’t just a danger to Alaskans

All the second-guessing about the closure of European air space because of volcanic ash should illustrate at least one thing: Not enough is known about this problem. The enormous scope of the economic and social disruption in Europe during the past week underscored why it's important for the United States to engage the topic as a nation. The same thing could easily happen here. Alaska, which has most of the active U.S. volcanoes, has developed a volcano monitoring system during the past few de… Continue Reading


Alaska Dispatch: Young's website is good. Whose is better?

We joke a lot in the newsroom about the number of press releases we get from politicians. Gov. Sean Parnell's tend to be somewhat emotive (he frequently seems to be "concerned" about something or "welcom(ing)" something else, and occasionally he's "outraged"), while Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich seem to be in a constant race to issue contrasting opinions on all sorts of issues. And then there's Rep. Don Young, Congressman for All Alaska, who issues a press release for -- well, just about … Continue Reading


Alaska Dispatch: Alaska Native corps. fight to keep favoritism in federal contracting

Small business designation under the U.S. Small Business Administration can be a lightning rod for success for companies owned by Alaska Native tribes and corporations, which enjoy privileges under the program not afforded to other participants. In particular, only Native-owned businesses have the ability to land sole-source, no-bid, unlimited-value contracts with the federal government -- a fact that raises some ire among those who oppose the preferential structure. Critics claim Native corpor… Continue Reading

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