Liz Ruskin, APRN
lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Liz
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.
President Obama infuriated Alaska’s political leaders when he announced in January he would ask Congress to protect more land within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, forever off-limits to oil drilling. Some, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, predict Obama will act on his own to bar development, by using the Antiquities Act to declare ANWR a national monument. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said today that’s not in the works.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter affirmed on Tuesday the need for a U.S. military strategy for the Arctic as Russia builds its military in the north.
The U.S. Congress tonight approved a one-week continuing resolution to avoid a partial shut down of the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier today, Alaska’s two Republican senators split over a bill that would fund the department for the rest of the fiscal year.
Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell defended his management of the Tongass National Forest today to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the panel, says the service isn’t allowing enough timber sales to keep what remains of the logging industry in Southeast Alaska in business.
The F-35 aircraft, the new fighter the Air Force wants to keep at Eielson Air Force base, has been plagued by cost overruns and equipment failures, but Air Force brass told a U.S. Senate Committee this morning those problems are in the past.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski confronted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The subject was the president’s proposed budget for the Interior Department. But Murkowski used the occasion to bash Jewell for recent department decisions blocking oil development on the North Slope.