Interior Secretary nominee Ken Salazar promises to visit Alaska

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, have secured a promise from Secretary of the Interior nominee Ken Salazar to visit Alaska and learn firsthand about the unique challenges Alaskans face.

“Sen. Salazar and I have developed a close working relationship over our past four years together on the Senate Energy Committee,” Murkowski said. “I’m very confident that our record of working together toward bipartisan solutions on issues important to Alaska will continue.”

Sen. Salazar is appearing this morning before the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee, of which Sen. Murkowski is the ranking Republican, to be vetted by committee members before considering his nomination to be Secretary of the Interior Department.

In separate meetings on Wednesday, Salazar told Sens. Murkowski and Begich that he looked forward to visiting Alaska following his confirmation.

Senator Salazar, who has visited Juneau once, said he was eager to learn more about Alaska’s issues.

“As a fellow Westerner, I found Interior Secretary-designee Salazar plain-spoken and open to learning the unique challenges facing Alaskans. Shortly after getting his feet on the ground at Interior, he pledged to cooperate with Senator Murkowski and me to take a delegation of senators to Alaska to see our state first-hand. I’ll work to ensure those senators are from both parties so Alaskans can educate Washington about our state. I’m confident Senator Salazar will be an Interior secretary we can work with,” said Begich.

The Interior Department is the biggest landlord of public land in Alaska, with title to more than 200 million acres or 60 percent of the state. As head of the Interior Department, Salazar will be tasked with a number of issues important to Alaska.

Sen. Salazar, a Democrat, has been a moderate voice in the debate on America’s need for a balanced energy policy. He’s been a strong proponent of developing renewable energy sources, of which Alaska has an abundance, and he’s worked across party lines to increase access for energy companies to the nation’s offshore resources.