Senator Murkowski

Energy: Find More, Use Less

Fox & Friends Appearance

In recent days, I have continued to speak out about the need for Congress to pass legislation that takes a balanced approach to dealing with the high cost of fuel. The Senate has been considering a narrowly focused bill that targets only market speculators. That’s one facet of the problem, but we need to move on all fronts – more domestic energy production, including drilling in ANWR, along with more conservation and an increased focus on alternative and renewable fuels. In a Senate floor speech earlier this week, I also made the point that domestic oil and gas production technology - particularly in Alaska - has improved dramatically over the past 40 years and that America should use this enhanced technology ingenuity to produce more energy here at home.

Fairbanks' Golden Days Parade

I was pleased to be in Fairbanks recently to enjoy this year’s Golden Days activities. The parade, the Rubber Duckie Race and street fair provided a wonderful opportunity to visit with many Alaskans. I also attended the Pioneer Mug Up and caught up with many long time friends. Even though it was a nice summer day, the approaching winter and high heating costs were on the minds of many of the people I met.

The members of TOPS (Taking Pounds Off Sensible) took a break from the Golden Days Parade to let me know they had “turned their lost pounds to gold”.

I ran into Miss Alaska, Courtney Carroll, who was also enjoying the Golden Days Parade.

Joe Usibelli, Sr. and his wife Peggy Shumaker had a great viewing spot for the Golden Days Parade. With them are instructors and participants in the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival.

I had the opportunity to congratulate Bill and Nancy Mendenhall, this year’s King and Queen Regent, as they reigned over the Pioneer Mug Up in Fairbanks.

I had an opportunity to visit with Mike Kilbourn and his puppy Shadow while watching the parade.

Veterans Chief Petty officer E-8(SS) David Landacre (ret) and Col Wally Cox (ret) rode on the Veterans of Foreign Wars float; a pause in the parade allowed me to thank them for their service to our country.

Interior Energy Summit Outlines Benefits of Coal Gasification

While in Fairbanks two weeks ago, I also attended an Interior Energy Summit that focused on coal gasification. While there are many competing technologies and projects for power generation in the Railbelt, Fairbanks leaders made a compelling case for the use of coal gasification to provide the Interior with clean lower-cost liquid fuels, while also providing for electricity and for the disposal of solid waste. During the Summit, I learned about how coal can be converted to pollution-free synthetic fuels to power aviation and home heating in the Interior, while providing additional electricity and reduced garbage headed to landfills.

The Arctic - One of My Favorite Topics

I spoke recently at a conference in Washington on our nation’s strategy in the Arctic, which gave me the opportunity to reiterate the importance of ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty. This is the document that likely will serve as the legal framework for governance in the Arctic. With the vast oil and gas reserves contained in the Arctic, I believe it is crucial for the United States to be a party to this treaty and be a player in the process, rather than an outsider hoping our interests are not damaged.

Interns - Future Senators?

I ran a photo of our first class of summer interns in the last newsletter, and here is a snapshot of the second and final class of my summer interns. These recently graduated high school seniors intern in our office for a month during the summer before heading off to college or other endeavors. During their stay, I have them join me in the meetings and committee hearings that I attend each day in the Senate. They get an opportunity to serve Alaska and get a better sense of how Congress works. Who knows, maybe something they learned or saw while on Capitol Hill will kindle an interest in serving Alaska. Interns are: Cierra Hahn (Skagway) Heather Kelahan (Palmer) Madison Dapcevich (Sitka) Heidi Shepard (Fairbanks) Mari Freitag (Ketchikan) Kathryn Bowerman (Bethel) Donald Neal (Kotzebue) Erica Harris (Skagway) Eric Basler (Anchorage) Irene Park (Anchorage).

Indian Affairs Law Enforcement

As Vice Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I joined with Committee Chairman Sen. Byron Dorgan of North Dakota to co-sponsor bipartisan legislation called the Tribal Law Enforcement Act. The bill will improve federal-tribal law enforcement coordination on Indian Reservations where the federal government bears primary responsibility for public safety. The State of Alaska is primarily responsible for public safety in Alaska’s Native villages. However, Alaska tribes and Native service providers will benefit from the expansion of numerous grant programs as well. The bill expands the Tribal Youth Program’s role in delinquency prevention, empowers the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to do more to address alcohol abuse in Native communities, and requires the Indian Health Service to adopt uniform protocols to aid victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I intend to work with the State of Alaska and the Alaska Federation of Natives to see if we can bring additional federal resources through the bill to improve public safety in rural Alaska.

Also in the news...

Good news for Alaska’s recreational boaters and commercial fishermen. I was pleased that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law my legislation to provide commercial fishing boats and other small commercial vessels a two-year moratorium from discharge permits under the Clean Water Act. Recreational vessels would be exempted from the incidental discharge permits under a companion bill that was also signed into law by the President this week. My bill directs the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a study to determine the types, volumes and effects of discharges from commercial vessels of different sizes and categories. Under my bill the EPA will provide a report to Congress within 15 months that would be used to determine if permanent exemptions are warranted.  It is my hope that the commercial vessel study will provide the data to justify an exemption for the commercial sector similar to the one for recreational vessels.