Murkowski: Interior Budget Proposal Will Increase Access, Protect Lands, Boost Resource Production

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine the U.S. Department of the Interior’s $11.7 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2019.

Murkowski opened the hearing by welcoming Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke back to the committee and highlighting the good work he has done for Alaska, other western states, and the nation during his first year leading the department.  

“You and I have worked closely to chart a path to greater energy security, which runs right through Alaska. One of your first trips as Secretary was to my home state, and I appreciate the steps you are taking to help restore Alaska’s trust in the Department,” Murkowski said. “I also thank you for sending Deputy Secretary Bernhardt and Assistant Secretary Balash to Alaska last week, to engage local communities and stakeholders as Interior lays out its framework for responsible exploration and development in the 1002 Area.”

Murkowski noted that while she does not support every proposal within the budget request, it is an improvement compared to past proposals from other administrations. Murkowski said she appreciates the department’s focus on responsibly producing our natural resources, improving our mineral security, and prioritizing the deferred maintenance backlog for public lands, especially in national parks.

“I support the Department’s new five-year plan for offshore leasing that provides greater access—even while protecting the areas where development may not be ripe at this time,” Murkowski said. “We also need to continue to address our nation’s mineral security, through both continued administrative actions and complementary legislation. Within this request, I support the funding proposed for modern geologic mapping, which will contribute greatly to this effort.”

Murkowski also asked Zinke about the administration’s priorities and focus on Arctic activity.

“I would think three things. One, the Arctic is of national security interest. It is imperative. Secondly, energy dominance is not possible unless Alaska’s resources come to bear,” Zinke said. “Thirdly, the Alaska Natives - I think we need to do better at being partners, particularly with our wildlife management… I think the relationship between the Interior and this committee on Alaska, will only grow.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here, here, and here for Murkowski’s questions for Zinke.

Related Issues: Energy