Murkowski, in Seattle, Stands Up for Arctic Development

Senator Highlights Close Ties of Puget Sound & Alaska at Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Senator Lisa Murkowski today highlighted the close economic ties between Alaska and Puget Sound during a speech to the Alaska Business Forum at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. The Seattle Chamber has estimated that Alaska contributes billions of dollars in economic activity and supports thousands of jobs in Washington’s Puget Sound region.

“When Alaska does well, so does Puget Sound. That’s no secret, but it underscores why we should be rooting for each other and looking for places where we can help each other out,” Murkowski told the Seattle Chamber of Commerce this morning. “What’s good for us is good for you. When we grow, you grow. When we prosper, you prosper.” 

Murkowski emphasized a number of areas where the close connections between Alaska and Washington can continue to grow, including the fishing industry. Her remarks detailed the broad energy bill that she is working on with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and on the positive impacts Arctic development could bring to both states. 

“The Arctic is a new economic frontier that will bring substantial benefits for Alaska and Washington alike,” Murkowski said. “As the Arctic opens up, Washington, like Alaska, will have new options and new routes to engage in commerce all over the world.” 

Murkowski also noted that no discussion of the Arctic is complete without mentioning its vast potential for resource development, which will again benefit both Alaska and Washington. 

“I’m a senator for Alaska, so you know exactly where I stand. I strongly support resource development in the Arctic. I believe it can be done safely, responsibly, to the benefit of the people of both of our states, and without harm to the environment. That’s exactly what has happened in the past, and I see no reason why it will be any different going forward – with newer technologies and even stronger regulations guiding the way.” 

Murkowski further noted that Arctic development in Alaska is not new – and that nations around the world are now speeding ahead on offshore development. 

“Onshore we have produced more than 17 billion barrels of oil, giving West Coast and even some foreign refineries a stable source of energy for more than 35 years,” Murkowski said. “If the United States fully engages in offshore development in the Arctic, we will be joining Russia. We will be joining Canada. We will be joining Greenland and Norway. We will be one of the last Arctic nations on the scene, but if we do not develop, we will be one of the only Arctic nations incapable of responding to a foreign spill that could very well affect our waters and our shores.” 

Murkowski also expressed concern that efforts to keep American energy in the ground will only lead to the renewal of our costly dependence on foreign nations for the same supply.

“That approach has never worked in the past, and it will not work in the future, especially in markets that are well-supplied. Cutting off supply from Alaska won’t change the type of energy we use; it will merely change who we are buying it from,” said Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

President Obama made a similar comment yesterday, when he explained during a press conference that “I would rather us, with all the safeguards and standards that we have, be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it, which is bad for our people, but is also potentially purchased from places that have much lower environmental standards than we do.”

In February, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce released a report entitled “Ties that Bind: The Enduring Economic Impact of Alaska on the Puget Sound Region.” According to the report, Alaska-related commerce supported some 113,000 jobs and $6.2 billion in annual labor earnings in the Puget Sound region in 2013 in a wide array of industries.