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Senator Lisa Murkowski has been named chairman of both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
Murkowski, who served for six years as the senior Republican member on both panels, was unanimously selected by her Republican Senate colleagues to be chairman.
“I am deeply honored to be entrusted with the gavels of two panels that are of critical importance to Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Energy production has been the brightest spot in our economy, but Alaska has been mostly left out due to federal policies that restrict access to our resources. That must change and we now have some of the best tools – a restored Republican majority in both chambers and key chairmanships – to help us accomplish that.”
Murkowski now leads the panels with jurisdiction over both policy and budget for the federal agencies that together control more than 60 percent of Alaska’s public lands.
“The combination of these powerful committee positions provides a singular opportunity for us to pursue policies that protect and strengthen Alaska’s rightful role as an American energy powerhouse,” Murkowski said. “As chairman, I will continue to be a tireless advocate for Alaskans. Whether it’s on a life-saving road for King Cove, increased access to our federal lands, offshore oil production, monetizing our natural gas resources, the responsible development of the Arctic coastal plain, or any other priority we have in Alaska.”
The U.S. Department of Energy’s mission includes research into promising energy technologies, ranging from methane hydrates to renewables such as geothermal and hydropower.
Murkowski has set an ambitious agenda for the new Congress to draft the first comprehensive energy bill since 2007. She has also expressed her desire to overhaul the federal government’s management of public lands.
“Alaska’s energy resources are central to our prosperity and a strategic asset that strengthens our nation’s security and geopolitical influence,” Murkowski said.
The Interior Department has an outsized impact on the lives of Alaskans through its role in managing our public lands, parks and refuges; fulfilling its trust responsibility to Alaska Natives; and as a major federal employer of Alaskans. The chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee has oversight of the budgets of the Interior Department, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Administration – all federal entities that have a daily impact on the lives of Alaskans.
“As chairman, I now have a greater ability to directly influence the priorities of these agencies and their policies in Alaska,” Murkowski said. “We’ve seen considerable momentum on the Appropriations Committee in addressing our state’s challenges – from dealing with the shortfalls in contract support costs, to making cleanup of the federal government’s abandoned legacy wells a national priority, to moving control of air permitting to the proper agency – and I will continue to build on those gains as chairman.”