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Senator Murkowski Addresses State Legislature, Says Time is Now to Take Ownership of Alaska's Future

Location: Juneau, AK


U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, while saying the time is now to effect real change and grow through the development of Alaska's resources, today urged Alaska lawmakers to finalize plans for a natural gas pipeline and to continue to aid in efforts to open ANWR to responsible oil and gas exploration.

Murkowski, during her third annual update to the Alaska Legislature on the status of Alaska issues in Congress, said she is working to pass ANWR, promote trade, improve health care and education, and address issues such as global climate change and Social Security. During a speech in which she highlighted the power of Alaska's resources and its people, she added that it is time to take ownership of our resources through projects like ANWR and a natural gas pipeline.

"Our opportunity begins with our resources - and when I say this I'm not just speaking about our oil, natural gas, timber, minerals or fish - I'm also talking about our human resources - our kids and grandkids," said Murkowski. "We all know, that ANWR and the construction of a natural gas line will allow us to take even greater ownership of our future. We must realize the potential of both projects and we must do it with some urgency."

The Senator highlighted the fact that the country is counting on and waiting for Alaska's natural gas. Without Alaska's gas, the U.S. will be faced with importing an additional 25 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day by 2025 - 25 billion cubic feet that must be imported from overseas. Murkowski also noted that tankers are being built in East Asia and the Pacific to carry foreign natural gas to the U.S. "America needs our gas and Congress believes that tax dollars should provide incentives to building a line. All of the projections and models count on Alaska gas coming online by 2014." Murkowski continued, "this is not just an Alaskan project but a project for America. It's time to act on the faith that the Congress and the country have given the state. It's not in the best interest of the State - or the producers for that matter - to wait indefinitely for a deal on the gas line."

Murkowski also urged legislators to help in getting Congress to open ANWR. Besides thanking Senators personally for their support, the Senator encouraged support of pro-ANWR groups like Arctic Power. She pointed out the need to improve ANWR public relations and to set the record straight that Alaska can balance development with care for our environment. Concerning Alaska's dependence on the federal government, the Senator said there will always be obligations and important work to be done together on a federal level. She added, "We're entering a new era. As Congress works to reduce the federal deficit and we face competing funding priorities, we must recognize that the federal government will play less of a role in Alaska's budget in the years to come."

On global climate change, Murkowski said she recently co-sponsored legislation that encourages the reduction of green-house gases through economic incentives, industrial competition and governmental cooperation.

Murkowski also reiterated her dedication to improving education and access to health care. She talked about the necessity to raise graduation rates, improve job training, and reduce the rate of obesity, suicide and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. "To take ownership of our future, a well educated Alaska must also be a healthy Alaska," said Murkowski.

In conclusion, the Senator addressed Social Security and the need to start a national debate on the topic while we have the luxury of time. Alaska has 60,860 Social Security beneficiaries. She believes that future changes to Social Security are necessary to strengthen the long term health of the program and guarantee benefits to future retirees.

"All options for reform should be open to discussion and on the table. Your opinion and those of all of our constituents are vital to ensuring that the best plan for Social Security is carried out. To live up to our role as legislators and our obligation as parents, we can not let uncertainty be the only thing certain about our children's future," said Murkowski.

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