Murkowski says Trump policies on Arctic, climate still unclear

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, left, and Norwegian member of parliament Eirik Sivertsen took questions from reporters during a meeting of the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region in Anchorage on Friday. (Photo by Rachel Waldholz/Alaska’s Energy Desk)

Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said it’s still unclear what the Trump administration’s Arctic or climate policies will look like.

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Murkowski met in Anchorage Friday, Feb. 24, with elected officials from around the Arctic. The meeting was a gathering of participants in the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region.

At a news conference, Murkowski said she’s fielding questions from her counterparts about potential changes in U.S. policy.

“One of the questions that we heard today, and again there is no clear answer to it, was the status of the Paris climate talks and the U.S. role in that,” Murkowski said.

Murkoswki’s referring to an international agreement to limit greenhouse gases. She noted that while President Donald Trump criticized the agreement during the campaign, there has been no clear decision from the White House since he was sworn in.

That uncertainty extends to other areas of Arctic policy, from infrastructure to economic development.

“Just the place that we are at right now with a new administration standing up, there has not been a clear lay-down of a policy on all things Arctic,” Murkowski said.

Norwegian member of parliament Eirik Sivertsen, who joined Murkowski for the news conference, said he hopes the U.S. will continue to be a leader on climate change and Arctic policy.

“The most important thing we are hoping for is that the Arctic will still be high on the agenda, that the U.S. will engage in discussing challenges and looking for solutions for the challenges we are facing in the Arctic,” Sivertsen said.

Murkowski stressed that it’s still early days for the Trump administration, and said she will discuss Arctic policy when she sits down with new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Anchorage meeting included representatives from Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland.

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Rachel Waldholz covers energy and the environment for Alaska's Energy Desk, a collaboration between Alaska Public Media, KTOO in Juneau and KUCB in Unalaska. Before coming to Anchorage, she spent two years reporting for Raven Radio in Sitka. Rachel studied documentary production at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and her short film, A Confused War won several awards. Her work has appeared on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace, among other outlets. rwaldholz (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8432 | About Rachel

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