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Senate Leaders Push for Alaska-Minded Interior Secretary

Letter requests a candidate with understanding of Alaska’s unique situation and concerns

JUNEAU-Senate Majority Leaders this week sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee urging members to keep Alaska in mind when considering who should be the next U.S. Secretary of the Interior.  The search for the new Secretary started earlier this month when current Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that he was stepping down from the position he has held since President Barack Obama took office in 2008. 

“The Secretary of the Interior may very well be the single most important person in the federal government for Alaskans,” said Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, R-North Pole.  “This person is in charge of overseeing federal efforts in everything from oil and gas drilling to Indian Affairs.   Since so much of Alaska’s lands are under federal control, it is critical for that person to understand what Alaskans need so that sensible decisions can be made.”

As part of the letter, Senate Leadership members outlined five principles that any prospective Secretary of the Interior should have:

                1) An understanding of land ownership and access issues in the western United States;

                2) A spirit of reasonable cooperation and coordination with Governors of impacted States

3) A thoughtful consideration of Federal action, and the impact it has on local communities under Alaska jurisdiction;

4) An understanding that a substantial amount of the Department of Interior’s holdings are in Alaska and that large portions of Alaska’s lands are under Federal control

                5) An understanding of the intent of the Alaska Statehood Act

“Alaska is a very unique state with natural resource and land issues far beyond that of any other state,” said Senator Coghill.  “Because of the gravity of this position on the people of Alaska, we believe the Secretary of the Interior will be well-suited to handle the job, if he or she recognizes these principles.”

To read the letter, click here.

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