Sen. Murkowski speaks at local luncheon


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Sen. Lisa Murkowski hosts a talk at a specially scheduled Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce Luncheon on April 21.

CINTHIA RITCHIE

It was a warm and sunny spring day, and the Eagle River Ale House was bustling with luncheon goers, most of them there to hear Senator Lisa Murkowski speak.

Murkowski, in a tweed-colored sweater and slacks, made her way around the room, shaking hands and calling people by name.

Scott Jepsen of ConocoPhillips opened the talk with praise of SB21. Since the bill’s passage, ConocoPhillips has really “ramped up,” he said.

“The future looks very bright if we can retain the framework,” he said, adding that if Ballot Measure 1 passes, it would “chill” the economy, not only in Alaska but throughout the country.

Murkowski echoed his sentiments but first she talked about the end of the legislature session and how legislators need to be constantly reminded of what their job is.

She anticipated that the minimum wage initiative would be on the November ballot.

“There will be a lot of puff and smoke about what is going on about the minimum wage,” she said.

But one of the biggest concerns, according to Murkowski, is that of regulations. And most of this happens away from the public’s eye.

“I don’t know how many of you go home after a long day at work, tuck the kids off to bed and go to your computer and check out the regulations to see what’s up,” she said.

Yet those regulations greatly impact our lives and our work, she said.

“When I think of ways that we as a state can be tied back, it comes back to the level of regulations coming out of our federal government,” she said.

She mentioned the proposed road from King Cover to Cold Bay, which would involve a one-lane noncommercial use road connecting King Cove residents to the airport at Cold Bay.

“When you have someone who is sick, the only way you can get out is hope you can get a Medevac in, and if you can’t, you call the Coast Guard and sometimes not even the Coast Guard can get in,” she said.

Over the years, 19 people have died while waiting to get out for medical attention, she added.

But, she said, the people back in Washington D.C. have determined that building the road would be a threat to wildfowl, namely Emperor geese and Pacific Black Brant geese.

Yet, Murkowski said, we can do both and we’ve proven it before.

“You know what? This argument ought to be offensive to all of us as Alaskans,” she said. “It’s not about the road per say. It’s about how Alaska is viewed by folks Outside, by people within agencies who will never in their career come up here but think that somehow they know best.”

So much of what we’re dealing with is attitude and mindset that Alaska needs to be saved from Alaskans, she said.

“That should rub each and every one of us the wrong way,” she said. “You can have your own view of whether we should develop Pebble Mine, but that should be a decision we as Alaskans make.”

After her talk, Mukowski answered questions about the upcoming Senate race.

“Obviously things are heating up,” she said. “The climate is changing dramatically and lining up for Republicans. I’m working aggressively to do what I can to help swing the Republican stance.”

She also answered a question about icebreakers and Alaska’s involvement in the Arctic.

“Give me a break on the icebreaker study,” she said. “We know that we need one. We have an arctic presence because of where we sit on the globe. We need to step up the game.

According to Murkowski, we are “woefully” behind on Arctic issues.

“I’m nervous about where we are in our readiness in the Arctic. My goal is to continue hammering on the administration.”

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