U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired an oversight hearing held by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to examine the U.S. Department of the Interior’s $11.7 billion budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018, a reduction of more than $1 billion compared to the current fiscal year.
Murkowski opened the hearing by welcoming Secretary Zinke back to the committee for the first time since his strong bipartisan Senate confirmation on March 1.
“I have enjoyed working with you during the early months of your tenure as Secretary, and appreciate the way you’ve taken on some tough tasks at the Department that have gone unaddressed for years,” Murkowski said. “It was also great to host you in Alaska last month to show you firsthand our vast potential to produce more oil on the North Slope.”
Murkowski noted that while she does not support every proposal within the administration’s budget request, the positives within it outweigh the negatives.
“I believe this budget request focuses on taking care of the lands the federal government already owns, rather than endlessly buying more,” Murkowski said. “I believe this will help western states, especially Alaska, to access our lands and waters and responsibly produce our natural resources.”
Murkowski also reiterated her strong support for the administration’s efforts to strengthen America’s energy security through its proposals for a new Five-Year Leasing Program, which could help to restore access to Alaska’s Arctic Outer Continental Shelf, and opening a small portion of the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to responsible energy development.
“Today, we are in a place where Alaska has the highest unemployment rate in the nation and our state budget is in a dire situation,” Murkowski said. “Restoring access to our offshore resources and opening up the 1002 Area to responsible development will create thousands of new jobs, generate tens of billions of dollars of new revenues, refill TAPS, and provide a reliable, long-term energy supply to strengthen our security and competitiveness.”
Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here for the first question and answer portion, and here for Murkowski’s final round of questions.