Senator Murkowski's E-newsletter for the week of September 20, 2012

August in Alaska

The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” truly applied to me this past August in Alaska.  I had fun, and I flew a lot! (Nearly 10,000 miles) My travels took me as far south as Metlakatla, as far west as Attu Island on the Aleutian chain, and as far north as Barrow.  I thought I would spend this newsletter recapping some of my trips around the state.

Sharing Alaska's Energy Options

My August journey started with a trip to the North Slope with my Senate colleague John Hoeven of North Dakota, a fellow member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  I invited Senator Hoeven up because it is always important for colleagues from the lower 48 to see our abundance of natural resources firsthand – and it’s clear that North Dakota knows a lot about resource development.

We visited legacy wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, met with the ANWR coastal plain community of Kaktovik, toured drilling operations at Alpine on the North Slope and also surveyed U.S. Coast Guard Arctic Shield operations in Barrow, as they increase their presence in the Arctic.

Sens. Murkowski and Hoeven R-ND (middle right) with Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan (bottom right) and members of the village of Kaktovik.

Senate Field Hearing on Kodiak

In addition to inviting Senator Hoeven up to Alaska, I also asked Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana – Chairman of the Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee – to hold a hearing to discuss the needs of the Coast Guard in northern waters.  At a hearing held at Coast Guard Base-Kodiak, Senator Landrieu and I heard from the Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Papp, as well as from industry and academic witnesses advocating for greater Coast Guard infrastructure in a region that will see a rise in marine traffic as resource development, tourism, and exploration increase in the coming years.

Sens. Landrieu and Murkowski hear testimony from Adm. Papp during the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Field Hearing at the Coast Guard Base in Kodiak, Alaska.

USCG National Security Cutter Bertholf Visit with DHS Secretary Napolitano


 The day after the Coast Guard hearing in Kodiak, I accompanied Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Senator Landrieu, Senator Begich and Admiral Papp for a tour of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf near Cold Bay, Alaska.  The USCGC Bertholf is a National Security Cutter participating in Arctic Shield, which is the Coast Guard’s summer operation plan for Alaska.

I am glad that Secretary Napolitano and Senator Landrieu were able to see, in person, Alaskans standing ready to help move the country forward to new possibilities as an Arctic Nation, and I look forward to working with them in the future to ensure that the Coast Guard has the resources they need to keep Alaskans and America safe.

Remembering the Attu Invasion on its 70th Anniversary

Senator Murkowski with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Ostebo next to the new memorial on Attu Island.

One of the most memorable trips of the recess was a visit to the Aleutian Island of Attu with Coast Guard Rear Admiral Ostebo, District 17 (Alaska) Commander.  On the far end of the island string, we dedicated a permanent memorial to honor the sacrifice of the Attu villagers on the 70th anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Attu Island.

It’s an important reminder that on this remote outpost, Japanese troops invaded Alaska.  Attu’s Native people were kept at the village, in their homes, for two months until they were herded into the hold of a coal freighter and taken to internment camps in Japan.

The Attu Village Memorial was conceived by the Alaska Veterans Museum and funded by a partnership of that museum, the Aleut and Pribilof Island Trust, the Anchorage International Rotary Club, The Aleut Corporation, Legacy Funeral Homes and Mr. Alfred Kehl.

Reaching Across the Aisle for Alaska’s Energy Future

Toward the end of the August recess, I hosted another Senator on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon.  With Senator Bingaman of New Mexico retiring at the end of this year, Senator Wyden will become the most senior democratic member on the Energy Committee, and one of us will be the next Chairman of the committee depending upon the political balance of the Senate after this year’s election.

We attended the Chena Renewable Energy Fair which included a tour of a 10-megawatt geothermal plant, permafrost tunnel, stopped at a liquefied gas terminal in Kenai, and visited an offshore oil platform in Cook Inlet.  I really enjoyed showing Senator Wyden all that Alaska has to offer and look forward to working with him in the coming years to find ways to take advantage of a wide range of our nation’s natural resources.

Chena Hot Springs owner Bernie Karl talks about renewable energy opportunities with Senators Murkowski and Wyden at the Chena Renewable Energy Fair.

Bernie Karl, Senators Murkowski & Wyden at the Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs.

Yukon River Community Tour

Senator Murkowski with students in Galena.

Wrapping up my month of August back home, I spent three days along the Yukon River, visiting the interior communities of Beaver, Stevens Village, Tanana, Ruby, Galena, Kaltag, Grayling and Holy Cross.

I met with city leaders, toured facilities and schools and held town halls with residents in each community.  High energy costs remain at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but I was encouraged to see the remarkable work communities like Tanana and Ruby are doing to incorporate renewable resources to reduce their energy prices.

Senator Murkowski tours Tanana’s biomass boiler.

In Tanana, the city has installed a biomass-fueled boiler to heat the community’s water supply and their laundromat, saving the city an average of $1,000 a month. In Ruby, with a population of 170 people, they have introduced solar power to help get off diesel, and are also using waste heat to heat some of the village buildings.

While many issues still remain in rural Alaska, I left the Yukon River trip inspired by what these small communities are able to accomplish to address their high energy costs, and I remain committed to helping find ways to reduce the high prices that can cripple a family’s budget.

Senator Murkowski recaps her Yukon Village trip, highlighting the energy projects she witnessed throughout interior rural Alaska.

Other Photos From Around the State:

Senator Murkowski vists with the kids while attending the 6th Annual Kenai River Sportfishing Association Junior Classic.

Sen. Murkowski visits the new Tanana Chiefs Conference Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center in Fairbanks.

Senator Murkowski stopped by KSRM Radio’s “Sound Off!” to discuss a variety of issues facing the Kenai Peninsula.

At the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, Senator Murkowski always take time to hula-hoop – and this year, staff was able to get her on camera!