Senator Murkowski - eNewsletter 03-27-09

Murkowski Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Senator Murkowski delivers remarks at a recent NOAA event commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill.

This past Tuesday commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound. It was on March 24, 1989, that Alaskans awoke to the news that an oil tanker had run aground on Bligh Reef spilling nearly 11 million gallons of oil into the Sound. In the 20 years that have followed this disaster, we have made significant advancements in the areas of oil spill prevention, response and clean-up.  Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored an event here in Washington to commemorate this tragic milestone. In my remarks to the forum, I warned against becoming complacent in the wake of improved safety since the Exxon Valdez disaster and that we must always remember the people whose lives and culture were forever changed.

Murkowski Congratulates Alaska's High School Champions

Last weekend, the state high school basketball championships took over the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage. I would like to send my congratulations to the 2009 state high school basketball champions: the Diamond boys and the Chugiak girls for the 4A tournament, the Anchorage Christian girls and the Hutchison boys for the 3A tournament, the Yakutat girls and the Point Hope boys for the 2A tournament, and the Alak girls and the Kalskag boys for the 1A tournament. I would like to especially recognize the 1A Boys state champions, the Kalskag boys. After their school burned down mid-season in January, the team went on to become State champions despite having to practice in a makeshift cafeteria/gym at Kalskag’s elementary school. Congratulations to our newest State champions.

March Madness Comes to Alaska

The Lady Seawolves of the University of Alaska Anchorage.

Photo credit: UAA/Mike Dinneen.

And while talking basketball, I want to congratulate the University of Alaska Anchorage Lady Seawolves for going all the way to the final four of the Division II NCAA championships. The Lady Seawolves capped an incredible season with an appearance in the final four – a true testament of their hard work this entire season. Congratulations ladies and I look forward to watching you in action next year.

Secretary Salazar to hold OCS hearing April 14 in Alaska

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will be in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 14, at the Dena’ina Center in Anchorage to gather public comment on oil and natural gas leasing off the coast of Alaska. This meeting is one of four public meetings Secretary Salazar is holding around the country on energy development in the Outer Continental Shelf. Given the major role energy production plays in sustaining Alaska’s economy, it’s important that as many Alaskans as possible come out and voice their opinions about how the federal waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas and Bristol Bay should be managed.

If you are unable to attend the all-day meeting in person, you can submit comments in writing at www.MMS.gov. When there, select “Five Year Program,” and then select “How to Comment.” A final agenda with meeting details and information on how to participate will be posted here.

Keeping in Contact with Alaskans

Senator Murkowski is now on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Come follow along.

In addition to my eNewsletter, I wanted to let you about my Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages. My official Senate Facebook page is now up and running. I plan to post my latest statements, links to videos and pictures from state visits on my Facebook page. Also, I have an official YouTube page at youtube.com/senatormurkowski. On my YouTube page, you can watch my speeches from the Senate floor, interviews I’ve participated in and portions of committee hearings that you may have missed. I am also on Twitter at twitter.com/lisamurkowski. You can follow me on Twitter (@lisamurkowski) where I will post links to content of interest to Alaskans. I invite you to check me out on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter and follow my work in the Senate for Alaska.

Senator Murkowski to Launch Teletownhall Meetings

While I travel home to Alaska frequently, I still am not able to speak with as many Alaskans as I would like, and the distance from Alaska to Washington makes it difficult for Alaskans to visit me at my office.

To enable me to speak with you more frequently, I will be using a new program to hold interactive, town hall style meetings right over the phone. This program, known as a ‘teletownhall,’ enables me to spend an hour or so speaking with and taking questions from Alaskans just as if we were in the same room together.  To participate, all that you need is a telephone.

Signing up for my teletownhalls is easy.  All you need to do is click here and provide me with a telephone number.

Still on the Move

You may remember from my last eNewsletter that I had taken a fall while skiing at Alyeska a few weeks back. I am still on the mend and working here in the Senate. Recently, I was on my way to a meeting and received a call from President Obama wishing me a speedy recovery.

At my most recent constituent coffee, Keith and Florence Colburn came by for a visit. You may know Keith from the Discovery Channel series ‘Deadliest Catch.’ I enjoyed visiting with Keith and Florence and hope to see more Alaskans at future constituent coffees.

Rule Change on Travel Coming Soon

Many Alaskans have contacted my office with concerns about a new rule that will require specific identification when traveling. This mandate will have consequences for Alaskans who travel to and from Canada on a regular basis. Currently, when traveling between Alaska and Canada by land or sea, travelers are only required to present an identification and citizenship document, such as a drivers license, a birth certificate or a naturalization certificate when traveling.

Under the new rule, travelers will be required to carry either a passport or a “passport card” for land and sea travel between Alaska and Canada starting June 1. Passport cards are similar to a passport, but are less expensive, fit in a wallet and are valid only for land and sea crossings.

Initially, Alaskans would have needed either a passport or a passport card for travel as of January 1, 2008. Senator Stevens and I cosponsored an amendment that delayed implementation of this rule until June 1, 2009. That date is now quickly approaching. If you regularly travel to and from Canada, or even through Canada to get to other parts of Alaska, I encourage you to visit here so that you may prepare for this rule change accordingly.

To try and reduce the costs of purchasing passports, I have joined several of my Senate colleagues in cosponsoring the Passport Card Travel Enhancement Act of 2009.  If passed, this bill would allow Alaskans traveling by air to and from Canada to use the cheaper passport card instead of a standard passport.