Senator Murkowski - eNewsletter 04-24-09

On The Mend

Earlier this week, Senator Murkowski participated in a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee, on which she is the ranking member.

Over the Easter recess, I returned to Alaska and underwent surgery for the knee injury I sustained in March while skiing at Mt. Alyeska. The surgery went well thanks to the many fine Alaskan medical professionals who attended to me. I am now back on my feet, with crutches, and am undergoing daily physical therapy. I would like to thank the many Alaskans who have taken time to call and email me their best wishes. I look forward to getting off my crutches and seeing many of you back home later this year.

OCS Hearings in Alaska

On April 14, I joined hundreds of Alaskans in a public meeting with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar on offshore oil and gas development.

Alaska’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) holds great potential for oil and gas development. The Chukchi Sea alone has the potential to produce 15 billion barrels of oil and 77 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Our waters also hold a variety of opportunities to harness the energy of wind, wave and tide. Alaska has the potential to become a national leader in the production of both renewable and conventional offshore energy.

Offshore energy production can also provide high paying jobs and much-needed revenue for the state. I’m confident that we can develop our oil and gas resources in an environmentally sound way.

The meeting at the Anchorage Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center was one of four hearings the administration is holding around the country to get public input on OCS energy development.

The Obama administration has stressed the importance of striking the right balance between oil and gas production and renewable energy development. As the Ranking Member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I look forward to working with them to create a secure energy future and will continue to press for responsible development of Alaska’s energy reserves.

Ladies that Lunch - Fairbanks

Senator Murkowski takes questions at the Ladies that Lunch forum in Fairbanks on April 15th.
I was pleased to speak to the Ladies that Lunch Annual Spring Luncheon in Fairbanks during the recess. The opportunity to visit with over 250 Interior residents and hear their concerns is very helpful to me here in D.C. and I appreciate those who attended.

Grants Symposium Information

A week after my surgery, Senator Begich, Congressman Young and I hosted a grants symposium in Anchorage to provide groups and organizations with an opportunity to learn about the guidelines and application requirements for seeking grants.  As federal grants are distributed through a competitive process from each agency – all with individual guidelines for eligibility and application – finding out specific information can be challenging. This event was designed to help streamline access to grant information for Alaskans and provide a time to speak directly with agency officials. We had about 500 Alaskans attend the symposium this year.  If you were unable to join us in Anchorage, I have posted the information that was presented at the symposium on my official website.  

Murkowski Attends The Gathering

Senator Murkowski with Marsha Hoffman-DeVoe, a Public Affairs Officer with the Veterans Administration, are the first civilians to receive the Veterans of Alaska Honorable Service in recognition of their hard work and dedication to Veterans.

While in Alaska, I was honored to attend The Gathering held at the Alaska State Fairgrounds in Palmer.  I’ve said it many times and am sincere when I say that no state supports its military more than Alaska. The Gathering is an event to recognize Veterans from the State of Alaska hosted by Veterans Aviation Outreach in concert with the Anchorage VA. I greatly enjoyed visiting with the attendees and appreciate their service to our country.

Senior Military Leaders Visit with Senator Murkowski

Senator Murkowski interviews Air Force General Howie Chandler on the Alaska Report.

In recent weeks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting with several senior military leaders to discuss Alaska’s role in our Nation’s security and the needs of Alaska’s service members. General Howie Chandler, Commander of Pacific Air Force, the major command overseeing operations at Alaska’s air bases, visited to talk about the Air Force in the Pacific. He graciously agreed to be interviewed on Air Force interests in Alaska for our Alaska Congressional Delegation television program Alaska Report which will air in May. If you miss the interview on TV, it will be available soon on my official YouTube page.

Senator Murkowski with (left) Major General Stephen Layfield and CSM David Turnbull

I was also pleased to visit with Major General Stephen Layfield, Commander of US Army Alaska, accompanied by Command Sergeant Major David Turnbull. In addition to discussing the Army’s work at Fort Richardson, Fort Wainwright and Fort Greely, we spent a few minutes discussing the Army’s “Year of the Non Commissioned Officer” (NCO). Throughout 2009, the Army honors NCOs through initiatives and events that enhance awareness and public understanding of the roles and responsibilities of today’s NCOs and enhance and accelerate the development of NCOs through education, fitness, and leadership development initiatives.

Senator Murkowski with Major General Elder Granger, Deputy Director and Program Executive Officer of TRICARE Management Activity.

A key benefit of service is access to the military health care system, TRICARE, for the service member, family members and retirees. While I never cease to be impressed with the quality of health care offered at the “best in the Air Force” 3d Med hospital at Elmendorf, Bassett Army Community Medical Center on Fort Wainwright, and the satellite facilities, I am concerned about the difficulties TRICARE patients face in accessing health care from community physicians. I asked Major General Elder Granger, who is soon to retire as Deputy Director of the TRICARE Management Activity to drop by for a chat about the state of TRICARE in Alaska. We had a wide ranging discussion covering physician reimbursement, TRICARE customer service, and ways in which the military might work with Alaska to address physician shortages. I will follow up on these conversations with Rear Admiral Christine Hunter who succeeds General Granger later this spring.

Senator Murkowski received the Harris Wofford Public Official Award from Youth Service America in recognition of her efforts to recognize youth service across the country. Pictured with Senator Murkowski are (left) former Senator Harris Wofford (D-PA); Peggy Echols, Vice-President of Corporate and External Relations with State Farm, a Youth Service America Sponsor; and Steve Culbertson, President and CEO of Youth Service America