Republican News

Jan 16 2014

Sen. Murkowski Seeks Greater Scrutiny of Two Interior Nominees

Senator Requests New Hearing on Suh, Schneider

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today signaled the need for further review of two nominees to lead the Interior Department. Murkowski said specifically wanted to hear from nominees Rhea Suh and Janice Schneider.

Murkowski, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, made her comments during the markup of 11 Interior and Department of Energy nominees. Murkowski said a new hearing for Suh and Schneider will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

“I would note that two other Interior nominees, Rhea Suh and Janice Schneider, will remain here in the Committee for the time being,” Murkowski said. “There are enough concerns – of mine or of other members of this Committee – that we believe their nominations need to be reheard.” 

Suh is under consideration to be the next assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks. Schneider has been nominated to be assistant secretary for land and minerals management.

Sen. Murkowski's opening remarks at the January 16, 2014 ENR business meeting.

(Click for video of Sen. Murkowski’s hearing statement.)

Murkowski expressed concern about a number of recent decisions by Interior effecting Alaska, especially Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s order blocking a congressionally approved land exchange that would allow the isolated community of King Cove to build an 11-mile life-saving road.

“I have been less than impressed with the Department of the Interior,” Murkowski said. “Foremost in my mind, obviously, is Secretary Jewell’s heartless rejection of a short road that would provide the residents of King Cove, Alaska with emergency medical access to the all-weather airport in neighboring Cold Bay.”   

After a number of people died in airplane-related accidents in King Cove, Murkowski crafted legislation, which became law in 2009, adding 56,000 acres of state and tribal lands to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in exchange for allowing the remote community to build a single-lane, gravel road on 206-acres of the refuge. Jewell rejected the road proposal two days before Christmas.

“At the time that the secretary made her announcements, it was the day before Christmas Eve. She told me there’s no good time to deliver bad news. I agree, but I would argue that a large part of her job is to avoid making bad news in the first place – for anyone, but especially in Alaska, where that seems to be all that Interior has to offer,” Murkowski said. “I would also suggest that sometimes, bad news is really the result of a misguided decision.”                                                                                            

More information on King Cove and the congressionally approved Izembek National Wildlife Refuge land exchange can be found at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources website.

The energy panel on Tuesday approved 11 nominations to the Energy and Interior departments, including Steven Croley to general counsel at Energy; Christopher Smith to assistant energy secretary for fossil energy; Esther Kia'aina to be assistant interior secretary for insular areas; Elizabeth Robinson to be undersecretary of energy; Jonathan Elkind to be assistant secretary for international affairs at Energy; Ellen Williams to be director of ARPA-E at Energy; Franklin Orr to be undersecretary for science at Energy; Marc Kastner to be director of the office of science at Energy; Michael Conner to be deputy secretary of Interior; Neil Kornze to be Interior’s director of the Bureau of Land Management; and Tommy Beaudreau to be assistant secretary for policy and management at Interior. The nominations now go to the Senate floor for final confirmation.

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