Liz Ruskin, APRN
lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Liz
Like governors before him, Bill Walker says the item at the top of his federal wish-list is opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development. Alaska’s congressional delegation has been trying for decades, but Walker believes opening ANWR is politically possible.
President Obama today extended an executive action that puts Bristol Bay off-limits to oil and gas development.
Senator-Elect Dan Sullivan will come in with the lowest seniority of the 100 senators, primarily because he’s never held elected office before. But it doesn’t seem to have hurt him on the committee score. He’ll serve on Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, Commerce, and Environment & Public Works,
Mark Begich said goodbye on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Thursday. His six years in office end with this Congress.
The U.S. Senate and House on Wednesday passed a Coast Guard bill that includes a three-year moratorium on vessel discharge regulations for boats 79 feet and smaller. Both Alaska Senators spoke in favor of it. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, argued from the Senate floor for a permanent fix but she says other lawmakers insisted on a temporary moratorium.
The Senate is expected to pass a major public lands package this week as a rider to the annual defense bill. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of the key negotiators on this controversial compromise, which has split advocacy groups on the right and left. Murkowski is planning more of the same when she becomes a committee chairman in the new year. What did it take to free these bills from the Congressional quagmire?
A bill to remove Sec. 910 from the Violence Against Women Act cleared the Senate today. But it’s unclear whether the bill can pass the House before Congress adjourns this week.
Sealaska Corporation would get land within the Tongass National Forest in a bill that’s moving quickly in the final days of Congress. It would turn over about 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest to Sealaska, mostly for logging and development. It’s part of a large package of public lands bills that’s been tacked on to a must-pass defense bill.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is holding hearings around the state on lease sale 193, in the Chukchi Sea. In its latest Environmental Impact Statement, BOEM says there’s likely more oil there, but also more risk of a large oil spill.
Alaska’s fishing industry is watching a deadline approach: Dec. 18. That’s the date tough new EPA regulations apply to commercial fishing boats, unless Congress intervenes.
The state Division of Elections took some heat this year for publishing an attack ad against Sen. Mark Begich within the pages of the official voter guide. Now, Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat, wants to ban partisan ads in the guide, a booklet that’s mailed to every voting household.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing On High Violence Levels In American Indian, Alaska Native Communities
The trauma American Indian and Alaska Native children experience due to the high levels of violence in their communities was the subject of a hearing today in the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Both Alaska senators pressed for solutions, in law and federal dollars.
American Indian and Alaska Native children see so much violence in their homes and communities that they suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at triple the rate of the general population, akin to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s one of the starting points of a new federal task force report on indigenous children and their exposure to violence.
Alaskans who hope to operate marijuana businesses will have to defy U.S. drug law, of course. But they’ll also face other federal rules they’re likely to find severely inconvenient and perhaps crippling to their enterprise.
Two different Pentagon agencies investigated the Alaska National Guard for allegedly mishandling sexual assault complaints. They came to opposite conclusions, and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wants to know why.
More than $57 million was spent on Alaska’s U.S. Senate race, which comes to about $230 per vote cast, and the campaigns aren’t done reporting their spending totals. If you’re looking for where it went, start with where a lot of it came from: Out of state. Then look at your TV.