Senator Murkowski's E-newsletter for the week of November 14, 2011

Honoring Our Nations Veterans

Washington, D.C. - Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state in the nation, and I am proud that they are such an ingrained part of the Alaskan way of life.  They are our colleagues, our friends, our next door neighbors.  Our armed forces guard our interests worldwide and protect our way of life, and for that I am forever thankful.

Sadly, homelessness, suicide and joblessness are stubbornly high among our veterans.  Others suffer in silence with hidden wounds of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and traumatic brain injury.  I charge Alaskans and all Americans to consider how you can make a difference in a veteran’s life, not just on special holidays, but every day.  Freedom is not free.  We owe our nation’s veterans a debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they have made so that we might enjoy the blessings of liberty.

I spent this past Veterans Day in Washington, D.C., where I visited the Vietnam Women’s Memorial to honor the 265,000 women who volunteered during the Vietnam War.  I heard stories from women who served, and from those who serve today.

Sen. Murkowski with U.S. Air Force Fellow, Major Jason Glynn, and Dr. Marsha Guezler-Stevens of the Vietnam Women's Memorial. 

I also spent some time volunteering at a Habitat for Humanity project in a low-income neighborhood of Washington, D.C.  Habitat for Humanity has partnered with the Mission Serve Initiative, a non profit that asks civilian and military communities across the country to come together through service and volunteerism. 

Senator Murkowski at Habitat for Humanity

Sen. Murkowski at the Habitat for Humanity build. For more photos from Veterans Day click here.

On Veterans Day, I also announced my “Veteran Spotlight” project – a monthly partnership with the Library of Congress to honor and draw attention to Alaskan veterans who served our country.  Every month, I will post a biography and an interview with an Alaskan in conjunction with the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.  We can learn a lot about our country, state, and ourselves from the men and women who have protected us, and we owe it to them to honor and spotlight their stories.

Do you have a parent, sibling, or loved one you suggest I profile?  Send me your suggestions in an email.

Thursday's Tele-Town Hall

In late October, I held town halls on the nation’s debt and economic situation in Anchorage, Palmer and Fairbanks.  They were great opportunities to share thoughts and ideas with Alaskans, but there was one problem: I didn’t get to hear from more of you.  So to open it up to the entire state, I held a tele-town hall via phone last Thursday for over an hour.  I received good input from people from all over the state about where our country stands: as we approach $15 trillion in debt, and how we deal with our growing deficit. 

There were great observations from Delta Junction to Fairbanks to Kodiak.  If you called into the town hall and were unable to ask a question, I invite you to email me with your question.

Alaska's Offshore Potential

As I continue to press our natural resource potential on the national stage, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece yesterday I wrote on offshore drilling. Read the full article here or below are some excerpts:

It’s worthwhile to note that while we continue our endless debate on whether and where we should have more Outer Continental Shelf development, all our neighbors are choosing to proceed. Cuba, Mexico, the Bahamas, Canada and Russia are all moving ahead on offshore development adjacent to our borders. Each of those nations has weighed the economic benefits of offshore production against the potential environmental risks. All five have decided it is in their best interest to proceed.

Near our borders, Canada is actively drilling projects not far from Maine’s coastline and proceeding towards development in the Beaufort Sea, just east of Alaskan waters. Along Alaska’s western boundary, Russia is aggressively moving into the Arctic Ocean, with exploration at the very edge of the boundary of Alaskan waters.

In a few years, the United States could wind up in a regrettable position: exposed to all of the risks of offshore development but with no control and none of the rewards. Imagine that foreign development is not done to our standards and a spill occurs. Neither geology nor ocean currents will respect our national boundaries. In some areas, like the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, the only way we will have oil-spill response capabilities in place or within a reasonable distance is if we are pursuing our own offshore development.

The Wall Street Journal also wrote an editorial on my efforts to understand how EPA’s new “Utility MACT” regulations could affect the cost and reliability of our electricity. Read that article here.

Photos From D.C.

Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Reed (D-RI) were presented with the President's Award from the 82nd Airborne Division Association for their support of Senate Resolution 254 which designated August 16, 2011 as "National Airborne Day."

Sen. Murkowski spoke with students from East, S.A.V.E., West, South and Burchell High Schools in Washington, D.C. on a Close-Up trip to our nation's capitol.