WASHINGTON, D.C. – Republican members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee have unanimously selected U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to be the ranking Republican on the committee.

Murkowski assumes the top post after serving six years on the committee. Murkowski, who replaces retiring Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico, will play a pivotal role in shaping a new energy bill early in the 111th Congress – legislation President Obama has identified as one of his top priorities.

“It’s a great honor to be entrusted with the leadership of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a time when energy is a top economic and national security concern for the country,” Murkowski said.

“It’s essential that we take a balanced approach to energy policy. While we need to improve energy efficiency and conservation, and expand development of renewable energy, we must also continue to support responsible development of traditional sources of energy,” Murkowski said. “We cannot cut ourselves off from fossil fuels overnight, but we can, and should, begin the transition to a renewable, clean energy future.”

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-New Mexico, welcomed Murkowski’s appointment as the ranking Republican on the panel.

“Sen. Murkowski brings both expertise and dedication to working in a bipartisan way on the serious energy challenges that are central to our nation’s economic strength.” Chairman Bingaman said. “I look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Murkowski on the important tasks before us.”

Murkowski, Alaska’s senior senator, is also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Also appointed to the energy committee were Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas, James E. Risch of Idaho, Robert Bennett of Utah, and John McCain of Arizona.

They join Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

Subcommittee appointments are still being determined.