Senator Murkowski's eNewsletter
Friday MAY 20, 2011 Murkowski Attends 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council
(Photo courtesy of Arctic Council)
Recently I was honored to join Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as a member of the U.S. delegation attending the 7th Ministerial meeting of the Arctic Council in Nuuk, Greenland. It was the first time a member of Congress or Secretary of State has attended an Arctic Council meeting. We met with the foreign ministers of the eight member nations (Canada, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, United States) and representatives of indigenous groups to discuss issues related to Arctic governance; climate change, Arctic energy, environmental protection - and watched as the Ministers signed a historic search and rescue agreement. The document is the first ever legally-binding agreement among Arctic states, negotiated under the framework of the Arctic Council, and will strengthen the cooperation on search and rescue between Arctic states.
I believe this historic meeting exemplifies the progress we are making to raise awareness of the strategic importance of the Arctic to the United States, as the entire world begins to look "North to the Future." It was music to my ears when Secretary Clinton stated the U.S. is an Arctic nation because of Alaska and as such, we have responsibilities and obligations. While the country is slowly waking up to the realization we are an Arctic nation, I continue to actively engage my colleagues about the Arctic and promote policies unique to a northern latitude.
Response to President's Remarks on Offshore Drilling Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sit down with the President to talk directly with him regarding the importance of Alaska's oil reserves and the need to increase safe and responsible oil production here at home. We had a good discussion about my concerns with some of his Administration's actions, and I have continued this discussion with various agencies and departments.
This month, President Obama focused one of his weekly radio addresses on gas prices and domestic production. I was pleased to hear him stress the importance of expanding oil production here at home, and that he was directing the Interior Department to conduct annual lease sales in the NPR-A and the Gulf of Mexico. The President says the right thing about increasing domestic production, but the words need to be followed by action.
While new leases are a positive step forward, permitting is the single greatest obstacle we face to increasing domestic production. During the President's address, he announced the creation of a team to coordinate work on Alaska drilling permits. It is my hope that this new team will be a positive development and will help streamline the permitting process.
Recent Senate Votes on Energy Provisions This month, the Senate voted on repealing a portion of tax provisions for oil companies. These "subsidies" are not payments from the federal treasury to the major energy producers, but a reduction in their overall taxes to encourage production. Domestic energy producers are already among the most heavily taxed companies in the United States. These tax breaks are something that every industry is eligible for, yet some of my colleagues felt it was necessary to single out a handful of companies in just one sector of our economy, simply because they don't like the oil industry. This type of politically motivated attack is harmful to the business climate and does nothing to actually address the rising cost of energy. Instead, the legislation was more likely to raise energy prices, reduce our nation's oil production, and deepen our annual deficits. This legislation failed in the Senate, and I hope that we can now focus our attention on real solutions to help the country move forward.
The Senate also voted on legislation proposed by Republicans that addressed three pressing needs - boosting offshore energy production, improving the safety of those operations, and streamlining our notoriously slow federal bureaucracy.
I was disappointed that we couldn't agree on the legislation to advance responsible production. I think the Republican plan was a good compromise to address the problems facing the oil industry. While it did not include everything I would have liked it to, it was a good start. Our focus should be on legislation that advances safety, production and a fair return of revenue to coastal states.
Murkowski Co-Sponsors Bill to Improve Alaska Marine Highway In an effort to improve our nation's ferry systems, I was pleased to co-sponsor bi-partisan legislation last week that would improve and expand federal investment in ferries, including the Alaska Marine Highway. In Alaska, our ferry system is not an alternative route; it's a primary method of transportation. The bill would be an economic engine and improve our way of life for communities on the Alaska Marine Highway system route.
Murkowski Honors National Police Survivors
This past Saturday, May 14, 2011, was designated "National Police Survivors Day" in a resolution (Res. 183) I introduced and passed to honor family members who have lost their loved ones in the line of duty. I am proud my resolution sets aside a day for everyone across the country to remember the lives these heroes gave to keep us safe, and the people they left behind.
During National Police Week, thousands of law enforcement families descend on Washington, D.C. to honor fallen officers. This year 316 names were added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial - including three Alaskans: Hoonah police officers Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace, and Customs and Border Protection Officer Charles Collins II. (Photos from Memorial provided below.)
Alaska Delegation Hosts Grants Symposium in Anchorage June 1, 2011 from 11 am - 5 pm at the Dena'ina Center
The Alaska Congressional Delegation is hosting a Grants Symposium in Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday June 1, 2011 from 11 am - 5 pm at the Dena'ina Center. It is important Alaskans be adequately informed about the federal grant programs already available and the proper steps to qualify for and obtain grant funds.
A number of federal agencies have been invited to the Grants Symposium and are requested to host a booth, provide information for distribution, and be available to answer questions specific to the grant process for their respective agencies. The Delegation is also holding breakout sessions in a separate room to give attendees unfamiliar with the grants process some of the basic steps to understand and take advantage of funding opportunities. This event will help streamline access to grant information and provide an invaluable opportunity to speak directly with agency officials.
For information please contact my grants coordinator Evan Ryser, at Evan_Ryser@murkowski.senate.gov. As the event draws closer, you may also contact Clare Boersma, Senator Mark Begich's Grant Coordinator at (907)271-5915 or email at Clare_Boersma@begich.senate.gov for site-specific questions.
Sen. Murkowski and former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso discuss Japan's recovery from the Tohoku earthquake and aspects of Japan-US relations during his recent visit to Washington
Sen. Murkowski with the Alaska World Affairs Council from Wasilla High School who were in Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Academic World Quest Competition
Sen. Murkowski with Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, Commander, Alaskan Command, and members of his staff
Sen. Murkowski rallies ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) advocates before their visits to lawmakers on Capitol Hill
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