Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media
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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska issues in Washington as the network's D.C. correspondent. She was born in Anchorage and is a West High grad. She has degrees from the University of Washington and the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. She previously worked at the Homer News, the Anchorage Daily News and the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers. She also freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013. She welcomes your news tips at lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz

Murkowski Pushes To Lift Crude Oil Exports Ban

A campaign by Senator Lisa Murkowski to lift the decades-old ban on crude oil exports got its first hearing in Washington today. It’s been 25 years since Congress has formally considered the ban it adopted during the Arab oil embargo, but the recent energy boom in the Lower 48 is triggering new debates. Download Audio

House Passes Bill Extending PILT, Alaska’s Village Safe Water Program

The U.S. House today passed a farm bill that includes programs for Alaska unrelated to agriculture. The bill continues another year of funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, a program that pays municipalities surrounded by federal land to compensate for the loss of tax base. The so-called PILT program sends about $26 million a year to Alaska and is a large portion of the budget for some local governments. The bill also renews Alaska’s Village Safe Water program, which gets some $30 million a year from the federal government. Download Audio

State of the Union Address Irks Alaska’s Delegation

President Obama gave his State of the Union address Tuesday night, and the response from Alaska's U.S. senators was swift and negative, particularly to Obama's pledge to act without Congress where he can. Download Audio

Begich Pledges To Restore Veteran Benefits

Veterans and military members in Alaska and around the country have been outraged at Congress since December, when lawmakers passed a budget that would trim their retirement benefits, starting in 2015. Download Audio

GovTrack Completes 2013 Report Card On Congress

GovTrack, a nonpartisan website that collects data on proposed federal legislation, has completed its 2013 report card on members of Congress. It found Alaska’s Mark Begich co-sponsored more bills than any other senator, while Congressman Don Young introduced more bills than any other House Republican. But the report card was especially interesting for what it said about U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. Download Audio

Begich Takes Stand Against Pebble Mine

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich has taken a definitive stand against the Pebble Mine. He told the Anchorage Daily News over the weekend that he can’t support the proposed mine in Southwestern Alaska. In doing so, he’s broken away from the rest of Alaska’s congressional delegation and his three Republican challengers. Download Audio

Spending Bill Includes $75 Million For Fisheries Disaster Assistance

Alaska’s congressional delegation has been churning out press releases to trumpet Alaska-bound funds in the trillion-dollar spending bill President Obama is expected to sign Saturday. Download Audio

Alaska Ranks 5th In Millionaires Per Capita

In a count of millionaires per capita, Alaska ranks fifth among states, according to a market research firm that tracks affluence. Download Audio

Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

The U.S. Senate this evening passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes substantial funds for programs important to Alaska, including fisheries disaster relief and military spending. Download Audio

Begich Introduces Izembek Road Bill

U.S. Senator Mark Begich today introduced a bill to allow a road from King Cove to Cold Bay, just weeks after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rejected the idea because it would run through a wildlife refuge. Begich says he picked one of the options scrutinized in a recent environmental assessment. Listen Now

Former DNR Commissioner Dan Sullivan Raises $1.2 Million For Senate Race

The U.S. Senate campaign of Dan Sullivan announced today how much money he collected in his first three months of fund-raising – $1.2 million. Download Audio

Shishmaref Delegation Meets With Climate Change Task Force

A delegation from Shishmaref is visiting Congress to explain how their world is changing. Shishmaref Native Corporation President Tony Weyiouanna told lawmakers at a climate task force meeting the village used to have so much beach they played baseball on it. Now, with the water level rising and the island eroding, they don’t have enough shore to dig clams. They’re finding tumors and hair loss on the marine mammals. The ice isn’t thick enough for safe travel. Download Audio

Federal Spending Package Secures Funds For Tribal Health Care Facilities

In Congress tonight, a massive spending package has emerged after weeks of intense negotiations among lawmakers, and it contains good news for Alaskans. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, top Republican on the subcommittee for Interior Department spending, has announced that she’s secured $66 million to staff the state’s six new tribally operated health care facilities. Download Audio

Treadwell slams Begich for the company he keeps; Dems call it hypocricy

The Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell has issued a series of press releases attacking incumbent Mark Begich for allegedly receiving support from Outside politicians working to lock up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and enact gun control. But the Treadwell campaign was apparently unaware that a listed host for a Treadwell fundraiser in Chicago is one of the Senate’s biggest advocates for those same two issues.

Senate Debates Emergency Unemployment Policy Extension

The U.S. Senate has been debating all week whether to extend emergency unemployment compensation for the long-term unemployed. Some 6,500 Alaskans were receiving the extended benefits before Congress let the program expire Dec. 28. Download Audio

Murkowski Calls For End To Crude Export Ban

Sen. Lisa Murkowski today called for lifting the decades-old ban on crude exports. In a speech to the Brookings Institution, she said the oil boom in North Dakota and elsewhere in the Lower 48 calls for a wholesale review of the energy export rules. Download Audio

Election Year Ramps Up

With 2014 underway, we now entered an election year. Alaskans will be choosing a governor, a lieutenant governor and as always, deciding whether to re-elect Alaska Congressman Don Young. But national attention, and money, is already focused on the U.S. Senate race. Download Audio

New Energy Politics Changes Likely To Affect Alaska

In Washington, at both the White House and in Congress, 2014 brings changes to the politics of energy that are likely to affect Alaska. Download Audio

Budget Pressure Mounts On Senate Appropriations Committee

It’s quiet in the U.S. Capitol these days, but the pressure is on one groups of lawmakers – the appropriators – among them Alaska’s two senators, Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich. Download Audio

Rio Tinto Considers Pulling Out Of Pebble Mine

Another investor in the proposed Pebble Mine says it may back out. Rio Tinto announced today that it will perform a strategic review of its investment in the controversial gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay region and that the review will consider divestment. Download Audio