U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski touched on an array of federal issues that affect Alaskans in her annual speech to the state Legislature today (Thursday).
In her brief remarks, which lasted less than 20 minutes, Murkowski spoke chiefly of the need to increase oil and gas development and the role Alaska plays in national military strategy.
She said there’s an “urgent need” for new production to fill the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, noting that Congressman Don Young has now succeeded a dozen times in moving legislation through the House of Representatives to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Murkowski said she thinks she has enough votes to get ANWR through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees. But it won’t go anywhere in the full Senate until there’s a filibuster proof 60 votes and a supportive administration. However, she promised to keep working on it.
“I will not give up until it succeeds, it must happen,” said Murkowski to loud applause from legislators. “It is simply too important to this state. It’s too important to this nation.”
Murkowski said another priority is making sure the nation’s leaders understand Alaska’s role in national security. She said she’s skeptical of a proposal to move an F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. A federal commission recommended against the move in 2005, and Murkowski says it’s still a bad idea.
“We shouldn’t pit Eielson vs. Elmendorf or JBER vs. JPARC,” she said. “We need to focus our energy on the long term vision of Alaska’s role in the global force structure.”
After her speech, Murkowski took questions from legislators for the next 40 minutes. She was asked about a number of topics, including ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, her stance on rolling back the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision, and the high cost of energy in rural Alaska.
This was Murkowski’s ninth speech to the legislature since being appointed to the Senate in 2002.