Murkowski talks climate change, health care during Juneau visit

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks with reporters following her annual address to the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 22, 2017. Murkowski is skeptical President Donald Trump can negotiate a better climate deal after pulling the U.S. out of the Paris accord, she said during a visit to Juneau on Thursday. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she’s skeptical President Donald Trump will be able to negotiate a better deal after pulling the U.S. out of the 195-nation Paris climate agreement.

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“That to me seems incredibly difficult,” Murkowski said Thursday from the sidelines of a luncheon hosted by the Juneau Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t know how we come in as the holdout. As I understand it, it’s Syria and Nicaragua and the United States now that are not in this, how we renegotiate it. I don’t think we have that kind of leverage, quite honestly.”

Murkowski is a strong proponent of expanding oil drilling. But she said she’s “agnostic” over the wisdom of whether to stay in the Paris agreement. She walks a fine line as climate change threatens the survival of Arctic villages and natural resources like fisheries.

“My hope is that with the president’s decision to go this route it does not mean that we fall back as a nation on our efforts to address and mitigate on the impact that we see from a warming climate,” Murkowski said. “Because we see it here in this state and it is real and I think we’ve got an obligation to help address it.”

Health care reform also is moving in Washington, D.C.

The Senate is poised to take up the Republican House bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimates would result in 23 million fewer Americans covered.

Some projections say Alaskans could be hit the hardest.

The Senate should move deliberately as it takes up the bill, Murkowski said.

“There are some who are very interested in moving it as quickly as possible to quote, ‘Kinda get it behind us,’” Murkowski said. “I don’t think that that’s the responsible path. I want to get it right rather than get it behind us.”

A bipartisan agreement will be necessary to get the best deal for Americans, she said.

“We can’t go from Obamacare, which was a Democrat-led only health care, to a Republican version of that where it’s just all Republicans that doesn’t work for the good of the country,” Murkowski said.

The U.S. Senate is in recess.