News From Senator Begich
October 12, 2010 Alaskans Speak Up About Issues Affecting Them >From safe roads to sound management of fish and game to protect subsistence, Alaskans gave me an earful over the past week at numerous events in Bethel, Anchorage, Saxman and Fairbanks. With the Senate on a home recess until after next month's election, I'm using the time to hear from Alaskans about issues important to them. Bethel residents were concerned about subsistence, jobs and youth empowerment when I spent a full day there speaking to rural leaders at the Association of Village Council Presidents. Transportation officials across the state focused on ways to expand mass transit and keep our roads safe, during a teleconference I had when them to Fairbanks. And Southeast Native leaders meeting in Saxman discussed health, education and local economic development when I joined them through a video-teleconference. I look forward to traveling to Fairbanks next week for the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention.
Senator Mark Begich
Construction Zone in Bethel
Sen. Begich got a tour of the new Association of Village Council Presidents Regional Housing Authority headquarters building in Bethel. The $12.5 million project received $5 million from the Recovery Act, bringing jobs and economic development to the region.
ANWR Should Be Available for Development, Senator Says Saying permanently prohibiting oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is irresponsible, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is taking on three Democratic senators for their efforts to expand wilderness in ANWR. In a recent letter to all 59 Democratic members of the U.S. Senate, Begich said the 16 billion barrels of oil believed beneath the Arctic Refuge should be part of a national energy plan which is focused on increasing domestic oil and gas production. "Our nation imports about two-thirds of the oil we consume annually, much of it from countries which simply don't like us," Begich wrote. "Instead of sending $100 million a day to Iran, I believe we need to increase our domestic energy production." His rebuke was in response to a letter circulated by Sens. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, Mark Udall of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico, asking other senators to join them in urging President Obama to extend "the strongest possible protections" to ANWR.
Sen. Begich and Congressman Don Young received appreciation awards last week from U.S. Census Bureau deputy regional manager Mike Burns who thanked the lawmakers for their support of the 2010 Census.
Begich Fights Federal Gun Ban Sen. Begich is urging the State Department to allow the sale and import of a vintage rifle that helped American troops in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Begich is one of 16 senators who sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking for an explanation and reversal of a decision to ban the sale of surplus M1 Garand and M1 Carbine rifles from South Korea to qualified buyers in the U.S. "This decision amounts to no more than a backdoor gun ban that lacks any basis or justification under current Federal law and policy," the letter states. "This decision violates law-abiding citizens' constitutional right, protected under the Second Amendment, to purchase these firearms for legitimate purposes such as target shooting, hunting, collecting, and self-protection." The letter points out anyone wishing to purchase one of the firearms would be subject to the National Instant Check System and sale of the historic rifles poses no greater risk than the sale of any other firearm legally sold in the United States.
Social Security Benefits Alaskans
Sen. Begich is joined by advocates and beneficiaries at a news conference at the Anchorage Senior Center announcing the positive impact Social Security has on thousands of Alaskans.
Social Security Benefits Thousands of Alaskans, Report Shows With more than 71,000 Alaskans receiving benefits from Social Security, it's never been more important to protect and preserve the program for current and future generations. That was the message from Sen. Begich who held a news conference in Anchorage last week to highlight a new report about the value of Social Security for Alaska. Social Security Works for ALASKA is a report produced by Social Security Works, a coalition of more than 60 organizations. The report outlines the many positive impacts of the program on Alaska's economy, providing nearly $1 billion each year to retired workers, women, children, the disabled and workers in transition."Some have proposed turning Social Security over to Wall Street. Or cutting it to somehow reduce the federal deficit," Begich said. "I couldn't disagree more strongly with either of these misguided ideas." A copy of the report is available at http://socialsecurity-works.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Social-Security-Works-for-Alaska_August-24_Definitive_Final.pdf
Alaska's View From The Hill
In this edition of Alaska's View from the Hill, Sen. Begich and KTVA's Matthew Felling discuss the war in Afghanistan, oil and gas opportunities for Alaska, and the current campaign for U.S. Senate.
"Frankenfish" Should Not Be Approved, Begich says Leading the fight against the pending U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of the first genetically-engineered (GE) animal for human consumption, Sen. Begich and dozens of organizations and lawmakers sent a letter to the FDA opposing the move. The agency is considering a proposal from AquaBounty Technologies to produce a hybrid Atlantic salmon modified with a Chinook salmon growth gene and an antifreeze gene from an eel, the ocean pout. "There are a number of serious concerns with the current approval process and many potential human health and environmental risks that are associated with producing GE fish have not been fully or openly reviewed," the letter states. "Critical information has been kept from the public and consequently, only FDA and AquaBounty know important details about the approval process for this GE salmon, or the product itself." The letter signed by Begich and 10 other senators is supported by 52 consumer and environmental groups, commercial and recreational fisheries associations, and food businesses and retailers.