Senator Murkowski's eNewsletter for February 9, 2010

Tuesday February 9, 2010

Supporting Alaska's Special Olympics Athletes

Jacob Kerr Special Olympics visit

Sen. Murkowski meets with Special Olympics Alaska Athlete Jacob Kerr of Anchorage during his visit to Washington. With Sen. Murkowski are, from left, Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, Jacob's Father Kevin; Jacob Kerr; Tim Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics; and Jim Balamaci, President and CEO, Special Olympics Alaska.

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with Jacob Kerr from Anchorage who was visiting Washington as part of the Special Olympics' Capitol Hill Day. Jacob is a senior at East High School and competes in snowboarding, basketball, bowling and golf. As a Special Olympics Alaska Athlete, Jacob will compete in snowboarding at the state Winter Games in March.

During his visit, Jacob lobbied members of Congress to support the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act, which would provide funding for the Special Olympics Program. Jacob shared with me his experiences in Special Olympics and the positive impact the program has had on his life. Jacob was joined by Joe Jonas of the Jonas Brothers music group who was also on the Hill to promote the Special Olympics program to lawmakers.

In Alaska, Special Olympics serves more than 2,000 athletes and has more than 1,300 students with and without intellectual disabilities. If you'd like to learn more about the Special Olympics in Alaska, please visit their website.

Budget Plan Does Not Match Up With State of the Union Energy Proposals

During the State of the Union address, I was pleasantly surprised by the President's remarks on energy. He called for new oil and gas development and greater support for clean nuclear energy - all good ideas capable of drawing strong support. But my optimism faded when the Administration's budget request for Fiscal Year 2011 was released. We're still reviewing the details, but I already see a significant difference between the President's bipartisan proposals during the State of the Union address and the divisive requests contained in the new budget.

Of particular importance to our state, the President called for "tough decisions" to be made on offshore oil and gas drilling. Development in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas have the potential to re-fill TAPS, and would also provide critical investment in jobs and the infrastructure that will keep Alaska financially stable and a leader in American energy production.

I welcomed the President's words of support, but I'm concerned that new development will be severely hampered by the 21 new fees and tax increases that the Administration's budget would impose on domestic oil and gas producers. We want federal agencies to be making the tough choices about where to drill. If American producers are faced with an estimated $80 billion in cost increases, the "tough decisions" will fall to them - whether to continue operating here, shut down, or head overseas to look for oil and natural gas. The end result could be higher energy prices, fewer good-paying jobs, reduced investment in our state, and greater dependence on foreign energy.

Rest assured, I'll do everything I can to make sure the federal budget reflects the best interests of our state. And as the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, I'll continue to work towards energy solutions that we can all agree on - policies that will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, promote clean energy technologies, and create jobs throughout our state and the nation. 

2010 State of the Union

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, R-Washington, and Sens. Murkowski, Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and John Cornyn, R-Texas, visit with President Barack Obama before the State of the Union Address. In her role as Vice-Chair of the Senate Republican Conference, Sen. Murkowski was part of the committee that escorted the President into the House chamber for his annual address.

Throwing the Breaker on the Swan-Tyee Electric Intertie and on SE Alaska's Energy Future

Swan-Tyee Electric Intertie
At the dedication of the Intertie, Sen. Murkowski visited with David Carlson, Chief Executive Officer of the Southeast Alaska Power Authority -- which was instrumental in building the Swan-Tyee Intertie -- and Robert Venables, Energy Coordinator for Southeast Conference.

I was happy to be in Ketchikan to join the dedication of the Swan-Tyee Electric Intertie. It has been a long 15 years since the effort began to build an intertie to move surplus power from Tyee Lake to Ketchikan.

The completion of the Swan-Tyee Intertie will have substantial benefits for Ketchikan and Southeast Alaska. Ketchikan needs the roughly 63 million kilowatt hours of additional power yearly that Tyee can generate - surplus power that has been going to waste since Tyee was finished nearly three decades ago. Now this power will find a home providing energy to fuel development in Ketchikan while also helping Wrangell and Petersburg and all the ratepayers of the State's former 'Four-Dam' Pool.

I was pleased to be part of such an important ceremony celebrating the completion of this critical project. I look forward to working with the residents of Southeast Alaska to further develop hydroelectric opportunities to meet the energy needs of today, and the future, with clean renewable energy.

Paying Tribute to an Alaskan Education Pioneer

Recently, I took to the Senate floor to pay tribute to Dr. William Demmert, who passed away on January 19, 2010. Dr. Demmert will be remembered as a leader in the cause of improving Indian education and as the nation's leading authority on Native language immersion and culturally based education.

Having grown up in Southeast Alaska, Dr. Demmert went on to serve as Commissioner of the Department of Education and Early Development under Governor Steve Cowper, was a founding member of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), a lead writer of the federal Indian Education Act, and an internationally recognized expert on issues related to Indian education, especially Native language immersion.
Dr. Demmert was a wonderful man who did so much good for indigenous peoples in many parts of the U.S. and in many countries. He will be greatly missed.

If you'd like to see my tribute to Dr. Demmert, you can see it here on my YouTube page.

Calling All WASP! Women Airforce Service Pilots to be Honored with Congressional Gold Medal and Ceremony

A ceremony recognizing the service of World War II-era Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, will be held in the U.S. Capitol on March 10, 2010, at 11:00 a.m.

Legislation signed by President Obama in 2009 authorized that the Congressional Gold Medal be awarded to this brave group of women who honorably served our country in World War II.
Three WASP who answered the call to service make their homes in Alaska. They are Nancy Baker and Virginia Wood of Fairbanks, and Ellen Campbell of Juneau.

The WASP was a pioneering organization of civilian female pilots who flew military aircraft under the direction of the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. More than 60 years ago, the WASP flew fighter, bomber, transport and training aircraft in defense of our nation. The WASP were pioneers in the integration of women pilots into the military.
WASP and family members of deceased WASP are encouraged to contact the Women in Military Service for America Memorial for inclusion in this historic event. They can be reached at wasp@womensmemorial.org or (703) 533-1155.
I send my heartfelt congratulations to these Alaskan women and thank them for answering the call to protect our freedoms.

Murkowski Accepting Applications for Summer Interns

Intern Candid

Caitlin Baalke of Soldotna and Noah Fields of Kodiak, two of Sen. Murkowski's interns from the summer of 2009, accompany her to an energy committee hearing on Capitol Hill.

I am now accepting applications for my 2010 high school intern program. This internship offers a unique opportunity for graduating seniors to learn about the United States Senate, gain experience in a professional office and experience life first hand in Washington, D.C. Many who are serving or who have served in the federal government can trace their careers back to their very first internship - much as I did as an intern for Sen. Ted Stevens after I graduated from high school in 1975.

If you or a young Alaskan you know would be interested in applying for an internship in my office, please visit my website, for further details and information.

The deadline for all applications is March 15, 2010. Applications should be sent via fax if possible. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rochelle Hanscom in my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-6665. 
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