Key Alaska Needs Cross the Finish Line on Capitol Hill

Ferry Projects Funded, Essential Air Service Gets Increase, Rural Alaska Heat & Water Needs See Support, Weather Tracking To Receive Millions

Washington, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today supported final passage of an appropriations bill that combines three appropriations bills – meaning millions for Alaska’s infrastructure and industry in the next fiscal year have been sent to President Obama for his signature.  Murkowski serves on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and 6 different Appropriations Subcommittees.

When signed, many Alaskan imperatives can now count on resources for the next year, including:

Village Safe Water: Also known as Rural Alaska Native Village Grants, the program is funded at approximately $23 million. VSW funds are used to build ‘washeterias,’ septic tanks, piped systems and holding tanks to provide potable water to a community.

Alaska Ferry Construction: $7.5 million will be directed to maintain current ferries and/or new ferries, along with related infrastructure.

Essential Air Service (EAS) program: $144 million will be allocated to EAS – a $14 million increase over 2011 levels.  This means every airport currently in the EAS program can continue receiving the subsidy for the next fiscal year, and over 40 Alaska airports from Gustavus to Atka will have commercial air service.

FAA Improvements: The FAA nationwide will receive $3 billion in Airport Improvement Programs funds, with an added $10 million to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport for upkeep and maintenance at the state’s largest passenger and cargo hub.

Joint Polar Satellite System: $924 million will fund crucial weather tracking technology, as well as monitor beacons that save lives.  JPSS continues to improve America’s environmental, weather, climate and oceanographic science and research – along with medium- and long-term weather forecasts

Marine Spatial Planning – Federal funding was removed from the NOAA program – as insisted upon by Senator Murkowski – that would have allowed the Executive Branch to dictate how States can and cannot use oceans and coasts.

High Energy Cost Grants: $9.5 million is directed to the program, after the President attempted to zero out the program in his budget.  Historically, approximately half of the high energy cost grant funding goes to Alaska needs.

Pacific Salmon Treaty: $9.6 million dollars will fund Pacific Salmon Treaty-related activities and compliance with the 1985 accord with Canada.  Those dollars will help maintain stock and monitor fishery activities, and also ensure compliance with treaty conservation and harvest sharing commitments.

Fishery Stock Assessments: $63 million will be disbursed to the nation’s fisheries to provide the most timely and accurate data possible, informing decisions such as quota numbers – an increase requested by Senator Murkowski from the $51 million provided in FY11.