U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, today led the Senate’s strong bipartisan approval of S. 47, her Natural Resources Management Act. The Senate passed the legislation this afternoon on a final vote of 92 to 8, and it will now head to the House of Representatives.
“The Senate’s overwhelming approval of this bipartisan lands package is a significant victory for Alaska and states across the country, particularly out west,” Murkowski said. “From increasing access to federal lands for sportsmen, to land conveyances for communities to boost the local economy, to protecting Alaskans from natural hazards, this package addresses a wide range of priorities important to our state.”
Murkowski also spoke to the Alaska-specific provisions within the lands package.
“This bill provides routing flexibility for our proposed natural gas pipeline. It creates new economic opportunities for communities like Kake and Utqiagvik. And it includes a provision that Sen. Sullivan and I have worked long on that will finally uphold our commitment to the Alaska Natives who served during the Vietnam War, but never received the land allotments promised to them by the federal government,” Murkowski said.
S. 47 is a bipartisan package of more than 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills. Murkowski and former ENR Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced the bill in January 2019. The package was negotiated with the chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Natural Resources last year, and the vast majority of bills within it have undergone extensive public review in the House, the Senate, or both.
S. 47 contains provisions sponsored by 50 Senators and cosponsored by nearly 90 Senators in the 115th Congress. The bill includes the following provisions of interest to Alaskans:
- Denali Improvement Act – Provides routing flexibility for the Alaska gasline project in Denali National Park and Preserve.
- Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act – Introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, to ensure the federal government fulfills its decades-old promise to provide allotments to Alaska Natives who served in the Vietnam War.
- National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring Act – Improves the nation’s volcano-related capabilities to help keep communities and travelers safe.
- Sportsmen’s Act – Requires federal agencies to expand and enhance sportsmen’s opportunities on federal lands; makes “open unless closed” the standard for Forest Service and BLM lands; facilitates the construction and expansion of public target ranges, including ranges on Forest Service and BLM lands; and clarifies procedures for commercial filming on federal lands.
- Small Miner Relief Act – Provides relief to four Alaska miners who lost long standing claims due to administrative errors or oversight.
- Kake Timber Parity Act – Repeals a statutory ban preventing the export of unprocessed logs harvested from lands conveyed to the Kake Tribal Corporation.
- Ukpeagvik Land Conveyance – Requires the Department of the Interior to convey all right, title, and interest in the sand and gravel resources within and contiguous to the Barrow Gas Field to the Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation.
- Chugach Land Study Act – Requires the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study to identify the effects that federal land acquisitions have had on Chugach Alaska Corporation’s ability to develop its lands, and to identify options for a possible land exchange with the corporation.
- National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act – Renews this program, which is run by the U.S. Geological Survey, for five years.
- Land and Water Conservation – Permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with key reforms to strengthen and provide parity for its state-side program.
More information on S. 47 is available here.