Murkowski Delivers on Alaska Priorities in Annual Interior Bill

The U.S. Senate recently passed an omnibus appropriations package containing funding for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2023. The measure includes the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee’s annual bill, which U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) negotiated as the panel’s Ranking Member.

Murkowski championed provisions to strengthen Alaska’s economy, invest in water and wastewater infrastructure, improve access and recreation on public lands, provide health and other critical services to tribal communities, and create safer communities across the state. Examples include funding to restore access to Denali National Park, create an EPA grant program for the assessment and remediation of contaminated lands conveyed by the federal government, and to protect communities in Alaska from wildfires. Through the Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) process, Murkowski secured significant additional funding to support over 47 projects in Alaska. 

“The Interior Subcommittee is important in Alaska with oversight over public lands, Native issues, and the environment. Through the standard appropriations process, I secured significant support for Alaska through investments in her people, lands, and waters. Our final bill improves infrastructure on public lands and provides for important research projects related mapping, landslides, and early monitoring systems for natural disasters. We provide support for Alaskans’ health and safety through investments in priorities such as Small Ambulatory Clinics, Village Built Clinics, and clean drinking water—which every Alaskan deserves. This year I was able to include nearly 50 CDS projects. These are boots-on-the-ground initiatives that Alaskans identified as their top local priorities—from clean drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities to the clean-up of contaminated lands and greater salmon monitoring. I’m proud of this bill and look forward to the positive impacts it will have across our state,” Murkowski said.

Congressionally Directed Spending Allocations for Alaska

  • Anchorage: $13 million to the Municipality of Anchorage for the safe disposal of wastewater in Anchorage.
  • Anchorage: $4 million to implement the Municipality of Anchorage’s Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
  • Chickaloon: $250,000 for the Chickaloon Native Village for a community well.
  • Chignik: $5.3 million to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for safe drinking water in Chignik.
  • Chugach National Forest: $2.3 million to construct and improve recreational trails and access on the Iditarod National Historic Trail.
  • Craig: $760,000 for upgrades to Craig's wastewater treatment plant.
  • Denali: $2.2 million for design and construction of pedestrian pathways along the Parks Highway corridor in the Denali Borough.
  • Eagle River: $4.5 million to the Municipality of Anchorage for the safe disposal of wastewater in Eagle River.
  • Girdwood: $1.6 million to replace the Ruane Road culvert in Girdwood.
  • Girdwood: $2.5 million for a sewer access project, for the safe disposal of wastewater in Girdwood.
  • Juneau: $2.5 million to the City and Borough of Juneau to design and construct a commercial-scale composting facility to serve Juneau residents and businesses.
  • Kenai: $875,000 to the Alaska Electric & Energy Cooperative, Inc. for the installation of a combined heat and power project at the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Central Peninsula Landfill.
  • Kenai: $2.9 million for the safe disposal of wastewater in Kenai.
  • Kenai: $1.5 million to implement the Kenai Peninsula Borough Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
  • Ketchikan: $1.7 million to the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for wastewater treatment plant upgrades.
  • Kivalina: $8 million to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to construct a new Kivalina landfill that meets state regulatory standards.
  • Kodiak: $1 million to the Island Trails Network for removal, recycling, and recovery of debris from the Alaska marine environment.
  • Kotzebue: $140,000 to build cyanotoxin analysis capacity at the Native Village of Kotzebue.
  • Nome: $1.6 million for safe drinking water distribution and wastewater collection.
  • North Slope: $1.2 million for a wastewater replacement project.
  • North Slope: $2.5 million for the Northern Route of the North Slope Borough Community Winter Access Trails pilot program, which provides for the creation of temporary winter trail access between communities where year-round connecting roads do not exist.
  • Palmer: $6.9 million for wastewater treatment system upgrades.
  • Petersburg: $1.6 million for water treatment plant upgrades. 
  • St. Paul: $3 million to improve solid waste disposal facilities.
  • Seldovia: $746,000 for a sewer line replacement.
  • Seldovia: $414,000 for safe drinking water.
  • Seward: $2 million for the safe disposal of wastewater.
  • Soldotna: $680,000 for a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Soldotna: $320,000 to improve wastewater effluent before discharge to the Kenai River.
  • Soldotna: $960,000 for upgrades to equipment used to dewater treated solids at the Soldotna Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • St. George: $3 million to replace 50-year-old water distribution and wastewater collection infrastructure.
  • Statewide: $2 million for salmon monitoring in the Yukon and Kuskokwim River watersheds.
  • Statewide: $500,000 to the Tanana Chiefs Conference to address the large data gap regarding salmon populations on the Yukon River.
  • Statewide: $880,000 for implementation of the Intertribal Federal Subsistence Cooperative Management Program at the Kuskokwim River Watershed.
  • Statewide: $1.2 million for ecological monitoring in the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers.
  • Statewide: $1.5 million for the Denali Commission to develop regional solid waste management plans.
  • Statewide: $1 million to complete a National Scenic Trail feasibility study to connect Seward and Fairbanks.
  • Statewide: $3 million for the Alaska Native Justice Center for Alaska tribal public safety empowerment activities.
  • Statewide: $7 million to support the State of Alaska in conducting an inventory and verification of contaminated sites conveyed to Alaska Natives under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).
  • Statewide: $300,000 for the University of Alaska Anchorage to study the need and economic feasibility of constructing and operating a hazardous waste processing facility and landfill in Alaska.
  • Statewide: $250,000 to the Alaska Native Village Corporation Association to build tribal capacity for the inventory and verification of ANCSA contaminated lands.
  • Statewide: $250,000 to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to build further tribal capacity for the inventory and verification of ANCSA contaminated lands.
  • Statewide: $33.9 million for abandoned well remediation in the NPR-A.
  • Valdez: $5 million for the safe disposal of wastewater in Valdez.
  • Wasilla: $5.7 million for improvements to wastewater treatment facilities. 
  • Whittier: $1.2 million for well field upgrades.
  • Yakutat: $5.1 million for a water line extension project.

Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill Highlights

Click here for comprehensive bill highlights.

Investing in Communities: Provides full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides compensation to local governments throughout Alaska that contain federal lands that are not subject to state or local taxation. PILT helps local governments provide vital services, such as firefighting and police protection, search-and-rescue operations, and the construction of public schools and roads.

Supporting Outdoor Access and Recreation: Provides investments to complete the project to restore access to Denali National Park Road for both the safety of the road and for access into the park for locals and visitors. Directs BLM to support the Alaska Long Trail project, a proposed 500-mile route connecting Seward and Fairbanks. Provides additional funding for critical operations and management of our National Park System.

Air, Water, and Wastewater Infrastructure: Addresses drinking water and wastewater infrastructure challenges by providing funding for the construction of new drinking water and wastewater systems and the improvement of existing systems in rural Alaska communities. Supports grant programs which help bring basic water and sewer infrastructure to communities in need. Includes increased funding for Targeted Airshed Grants, which support communities such as Fairbanks in their efforts to reduce air pollution. Prohibits EPA from implementing its small, remote incinerators rule in Alaska while Alaskans work with the agency to develop a rule that will work better to address the state’s rural, unique needs. Provides for transboundary river pollution monitoring and directs the U.S. Geological Survey to work cooperatively with local tribes, stakeholders, and other federal agencies to help develop a water quality strategy for transboundary rivers.

Protection from Natural Hazards and Wildfire: Provides for the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System, which will benefit Alaska. Provides greater funding for Prince William Sound and the Southeast landslide program as well as language supporting the ongoing landslide and tsunami warning work in the region. Provides funding for both wildland fire management and wildfire suppression.

Public Safety: In order to improve the federal response to the epidemic of missing, trafficked, and murdered indigenous women and girls, provides funding to BIA for cold case work, equipment needs, and victim witness specialists. Includes additional funding for Public Law 280 states, such as Alaska, to help develop tribal court systems for communities.

Health and Wellness: Maintains funding for the Small Ambulatory Clinics Program and dental therapist training. Increases maternal funding through IHS and funding for Village Built Clinics—a program unique to Alaska which supports approximately 150 healthcare clinics in rural areas, many of which require intensive maintenance and often serve as the only health facility or source of regional medical care. Advance appropriations are included for fiscal year 2024 to prevent the interruption of healthcare related services in the event of a government shutdown.  

Alaska Lands: Prioritizes infrastructure improvements for public lands, including investments in land cleanup. Addresses legacy well cleanup to support the next series of sites in need of remediation. Increases support for the Alaska Land Conveyance Program, which serves to fulfill legal requirements to transfer lands to the State and Alaska Natives under ANCSA. Establishes a new grant program at EPA to provide funding for the first time for the assessment and remediation of ANCSA contaminated sites in Alaska. Recognizes the importance of Alaska Public Land Information Centers and encourages the agencies to seek to strengthen partnerships with them.

Culture and the Arts: Supports the arts through funding for NEA and NEH. Includes support for the NEA’s Healing Arts Program, developed by the NEA and DOD to help wounded and injured service members and their families in their transition into civilian life. Continues funding for an arts and cultural program with Sealaska and the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development.

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee establishes the annual budgets for federal agencies and departments including the Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Forest Service (FS), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and Indian Health Service (IHS). Murkowski, as Ranking Member, is able to help write the Senate’s annual appropriations bill for the Subcommittee.