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Liz Ruskin, APRN

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

Murkowski, Jewell Spar Over North Slope Oil And Gas Development

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell faced off in a Senate hearing Tuesday morning in Washington.

February 24, 2015

Arctic Drilling Regs Require Relief Rig; Shell Sees ‘Critical’ Flexibility

The Department of Interior today released proposed new Arctic-specific drilling standards for offshore oil exploration. They would require an Arctic operator to have a well cap at hand, but more controversially, a rig on standby that can drill a relief well within 45 days if there’s a blowout.

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February 20, 2015

Alaska Tops Gallup’s Index of Well-Being

Gallup today released its annual Index of Well-Being, and for the first time, Alaska tops the list. The researchers who produce the Gallup-Healthways report say Alaska residents had the highest well-being in the nation in 2014.
The Gallup report doesn’t attempt to reconcile its findings with all those other lists that have Alaska at or near the top: Suicide rate, sexual assaults per capita and domestic abuse.

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February 19, 2015

Murkowski Concludes Obama Aims to Kill Alaska’s Pipeline

President Barack Obama has stopped in Alaska to refuel, but he plans to make his first real trip to the state in August, in the company of Secretary of State John Kerry. Or so says U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. She let it slip during her annual address to the Alaska Legislature today, a speech aimed primarily at fighting the administration’s moves to shield parts of the Arctic from oil development.

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February 18, 2015
Murkowski Turns Sec. Kerry’s Gaze North

Murkowski Turns Sec. Kerry’s Gaze North

Sec. of State John Kerry’s agenda these days is dominated by the world’s hot spots: Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski met with him this week to move his focus to a cold spot: the Arctic. “The secretary is very focused on issues as they relate to climate, so that aspect of the Arctic, I think it’s fair to say, he is engaged, ” she said after the meeting. “I don’t think that he has the bigger Arctic picture, the other Arctic pictures.”

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February 13, 2015
Sullivan Stands With House on DHS Funding

Sullivan Stands With House on DHS Funding

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security will run out February 27, unless Congress can resolve an impasse over immigration policy riders the House included in its funding bill. Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan today stood with conservative lawmakers, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, calling on the Senate to pass the House bill.

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February 12, 2015

Senators Grill EPA Clean Air Chief over CO2 Rule

In the U.S. Senate today, the Environment and Public Works Committee took up a plan by President Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The proposed EPA regulation would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide by 2030. Republicans call it federal overreach, and Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan had more objections than time allowed.

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February 11, 2015

U.S. Senators Try Again to Kill Vessel Discharge Regs

Alaska fishermen have three years before the EPA is supposed to begin regulating deck wash, bilge water and other liquids discharged from small vessels. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski this week introduced a bill to permanently block the regulation for commercial vessels under 79 feet. Senate co-sponsors include Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, and California Democrat Barbara Boxer.

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February 5, 2015

EPA Administrator Insists Water Rule isn’t a Power Grab

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today defended a proposed Clean Water Act rule to a joint committee of Congress. Republican critics charge is an egregious case of federal overreach, and the rule is of special concern in Alaska.

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February 4, 2015

Another Congress, Another Bill to Rename it Mount Denali

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has filed a bill to forever change the name of Mount McKinley to Denali. As in past years, it will no doubt be blocked by lawmakers from Ohio, the birth state of President McKinley. Murkowski says it’s still an important cause.

“It’s something that Alaskans look at in the state and are just reminded that there are decisions that are done for us, outside the state, without consultation,” she said.

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February 4, 2015

Vet Suicide Prevention Bill Passes Congress

The Senate today unanimously passed a bill aimed at preventing suicide among veterans. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan said it’s an important bill for Alaska, which has the highest number of vets per capita and also the highest rate of suicide.

“As an officer in the Marine Corps both on active duty and in the Reserves, I’ve personally witnessed the struggles, at times tragic, that some of our servicemen and women undergo,” he said in a speech on the Senate floor.

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February 3, 2015

Pipeline Coordinator Still Shuttering Shop While Obama Calls for Funding

The budget President Obama sent Congress this week includes $1 million for the office of the federal coordinator for the Alaska natural gas pipeline. But the current coordinator, Larry Persily, says he’s still shutting down his offices in Anchorage and Washington, D.C.

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February 3, 2015

Arctic Standards Won’t Be Ready For Shell’s Return

After Shell’s troubled 2012 drilling season in the far north, the Interior Department began working on Arctic-specific standards for offshore drilling. But those new standards aren’t done yet. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says they won’t be in place to guide Shell’s planned return to the Chukchi Sea this year.

“We’ll be holding them to the standards that we’ve held them to before, with upgrades and proof that they can do what they say they do before they’re allowed to go up there,” Jewell told reporters in a press call today, primarily talking about the president’s budget for her department.

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February 2, 2015

Shell Says It Plans Offshore Arctic Drilling This Year

The CEO of Royal Dutch Shell says the company intends to return to the Chukchi Sea this summer to drill exploratory wells. But CEO Ben van Beurden says Shell still needs permits, among other challenges. “So, will we go ahead? Yes, if we can,” he said at a press conference in London.

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January 29, 2015

Conoco Dials Back Investment in NPR-A

ConocoPhillips Alaska says it is “slowing the pace of investment” in its Greater Moose’s Tooth 1 project, in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. Company president Trond-Erik Johansen says they are “deferring the final investment decision.”

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January 29, 2015

Shell To Restart Chukchi Drilling This Summer

Shell plans to restart its drilling work in the Chukchi Sea this summer. The company still needs federal permits and to resolve legal challenges.

January 29, 2015

Murkowski Swings at Obama’s Arctic Wilderness Plan But Misses

Sen. Lisa Murkowski today failed to land her first counterpunch at the Obama administration’s new Arctic conservation policies. The Senate rejected an amendment that would’ve put a time limit on wilderness study areas.

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January 28, 2015

Murkowski Swings at Obama’s Arctic Wilderness Plan But Misses

Sen. Lisa Murkowski today failed to land her first counterpunch at the Obama administration’s new Arctic conservation policies. The Senate rejected an amendment that would’ve put a time limit on wilderness study areas.

January 28, 2015

Obama Withdraws 9.8m Acres of Arctic Ocean

President Obama is withdrawing 9.8 million acres of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from future oil and gas lease sales. Sen. Lisa Murkowski describes it as a gut punch to Alaska’s economy. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell says the withdrawals are limited to small areas of the Beaufort, a 25-mile buffer along the Chukchi Coast and the area around the Hanna Shoal.

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January 27, 2015

Sullivan: Alaskans Dream Big, Breathe Air ‘Bathed in Promise’

In his first Senate speech, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan today spoke in support of the Keystone Pipeline. His sweeping address went on to discuss the American dream, and what he describes as the Obama Administration’s threat to it. Sullivan says the dream is still alive in Alaska. “In Alaska, the very air you breathe is bathed in promise,” Sullivan said. “The people still speak the language of bold ideas, and rugged adventure.”

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January 27, 2015