Liz Ruskin, APRN
lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Liz
Shell’s effort to resume exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea has cleared another hurdle. The Interior Department today approved the 2008 Arctic lease sale where Shell spent more than $2 billion to purchase drilling rights.
Environmentalists are saying a budget amendment authored by Sen. Lisa Murkowski could lead to a plundering of treasured federal landscapes. Murkowski’s amendment on federal land disposals was part of a national budget resolution the Senate passed early this morning. Senators offered hundreds of amendments that don’t have the force of law but often serve symbolic or political purposes.
Alaska Congressman Don Young has co-sponsored a bill that would, among other features, end the federal ban on medical marijuana in states that have chosen to make it legal.
The country’s ground-based missile defense system, with its 26 missiles at Fort Greely, is capable of defending the U.S. not only from North Korea, but from Iran, too, says Missile Defense Agency Director James Syring.
A new report says that as Artic ship traffic has increased, so has the number of Arctic ship mishaps. The annual Shipping and Safety Review by Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, counts 55 ship casualties in the waters of the Arctic Circle last year, up from three a decade ago.
It’s the 26th anniversary of America’s second largest oil spill, when an Exxon tanker leaving Valdez Arm ran aground, leaking 11 million gallons of North Slope Crude into Prince William Sound. In Washington D.C., environmental activists marked the occasion with a demonstration in front of the White House. Their message was less about Exxon and tanker safety than it was about Shell and its plans to drill in the Chukchi Sea.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan returned to Juneau and today gave his first speech as a senator to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature. The first-term Republican established an “us versus them” theme – a united Alaska up against the Obama administration.
Alaska Congressman Don Young has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation’s primary law governing fishing in federal waters. It leaves fisheries managers some
controversial wiggle room.
Alaska’s Congressional delegation and a dozen other lawmakers are asking the Defense secretary to study how contracting reform has hurt Alaska Native corporations and tribally owned businesses. The lawmakers sent letters this week to Secretary Ash Carter about the 2010 rule change, known as “Section 811.”
Testimony from the director of the Missile Defense Agency suggests Alaska will likely remain the cornerstone of the nation’s ground-based missile defense, at least in the near term. The Pentagon is studying the idea of a new missile site in the East, but MDA Director James Syring says new radar comes first.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she doesn’t see any good news for the families in Southeast Alaska that still depend on the harvest of Tongass timber. She says nothing Congress does seems to increase the national timber harvest, and Murkowski she’s not confident the transition to second-growth in the Tongass will work.
The federal government can once again continue processing H-2b visas, the program that traditionally allows foreign roe technicians to work in Alaska seafood plants.
Robert Papp, the U.S. special representative for the Arctic, says he questions reports that Russia has launched a major military buildup in the Arctic. Papp says he’s asking U.S. intelligence agencies to look beyond Russia’s military swagger for a realistic view of its Arctic activity. Papp says Moscow could be adding infrastructure for general use in the north.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan is among 47 Republican senators who signed a letter to Iran’s leadership Monday. The letter concerns President Obama’s negotiations for a deal to halt Iran’s nuclear program. It warns Iran that the next president could reverse any deal that’s not approved by Congress.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan’s ongoing military service as a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Reserves was one of his strongest selling points as a Senate candidate. But now that he’s a senator, the Marines have removed him from his assignment as a commander, saying it’s incompatible with congressional office.
Lawmakers fled Washington, D.C. ahead of a snow storm that closed government offices today. But scores of Alaskans packed into Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s hearing on Arctic opportunity. Sen. Al Franken used it as his opportunity to highlight what he sees as an Arctic paradox.
Last summer, Shell asked the government to extend its offshore drilling leases in the Arctic. Today, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski pressed Shell’s case to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in a Senate hearing. Murkowski says Shell needs certainty to continue to invest billions of dollars in its Arctic operations.
U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan today engaged the head of the EPA, Gina McCarthy, in a testy exchange. Sullivan’s focus was the EPA’s proposed rule for the Clean Water Act. But first the senator extracted some crow from McCarthy for dissing gifts given to her when she visited Alaska last year. Sullivan says her reference to a jar of moose meat that could “gag a maggot” was disrespectful to Alaskans.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she’s forming an Arctic caucus — a group of senators that will meet to advance discussion among senators and staff about issues important to the Arctic and its people.