Lisa Murkowski

United States Senator from Alaska since 2002

Lisa Ann Murkowski (born May 22, 1957) is an American attorney and politician serving as the senior United States senator for Alaska, having held that seat since 2002. Murkowski is the second-most senior Republican woman in the Senate, after Susan Collins of Maine.

Lisa Murkowski


  • Roe is still the law of the land. We don’t know the direction that this decision may ultimately take. Sen. Collins and I in February introduced a bill that would codify Roe v. Wade. I thought it made sense then and I think it makes perhaps more sense now. [The draft] rocks my confidence in the court right now
  • Today the Supreme Court went against 50 years of precedent in choosing to overturn Roe v. Wade. The rights under Roe that many women have relied on for decades—most notably a woman’s right to choose—are now gone or threatened in many states.

John McCain (September 2018)

Remarks on the passing of John McCain (4 September 2018)
  • We all know the background. We all know the bio. John McCain served our Nation for 60 years, starting as an officer in the U.S. Navy, as a prisoner of war in unspeakable conditions, and during his terms in the House of Representatives and in the Senate for some 30 years. That is the biography of the man, but it is just the start of who he was and the mark he made not only on the lives of us in the Senate but on the lives of Americans all over the country. John McCain was a beloved colleague. He was a patriot. He was truly an American hero. He had remarkable intellect. He had an iron will, most certainly. He had unquestionable integrity and courage that was absolutely unwavering.
  • When I think about John and how John approached issues, John was one who did what he thought was right. When he thought he was right, there wasn't much arguing with him--he was right. Even then, we would engage, we would go back and forth, and I think oftentimes it was those arguments that caused us to either gain greater respect or perhaps greater fear, depending on where you were in the process. John was one of those guys who favored straight talk. I don't think he would have any hard feelings about any of us describing our relationship with him over the years. We didn't always agree, and sometimes we didn't even get along, but the truth was, John McCain would always make sure you knew where he stood.
  • John was very clear that you had to earn his respect. Respect was not something that came with the title. The fact that you were a U.S. Senator didn't mean you had earned his respect. And I know because I felt that in my early years here in the Senate. I came through an appointment, and I think John McCain was just going to wait to see if I was able to prove myself, and he ultimately decided, apparently, that I had. He came up to me one day--we were actually walking down the aisle there, and he came up and he said: You know, you are OK, kid. And for that, that was high praise.
  • We all have heard some of the legendary stories of when individuals kind of came head-to-head or toe-to-toe with John McCain, and certainly there were some areas where we disagreed. We had a little bit different view on earmarks. And that was not just my relationship with Senator McCain but previous Alaskan Senators as well. But I think we all agreed that our disagreements were principled in nature. I remember one very interesting and heated exchange over the merits of essential air service, and John was on one side of the issue and I was an advocate for essential air. We were literally nose-to-nose, and I said: "Don't you understand that it is called essential air because it is essential because we don't have roads to these places?" And he kind of growled at me and: "Well, I don't know why we need to have it." There were legendary back-and-forths, and sometimes you won, sometimes John won, but it was always with a great deal of passion that these exchanges moved forward.
  • Then there was the other end of the spectrum--those times when John and I were voting together, sometimes against the majority of our own party. Healthcare and the ACA vote last year is certainly a prime example of that. That was a tough vote. That was a tough vote for our conference. It was a difficult vote, but I will tell you, it was comforting to have some solidarity with my friend John McCain even when it was clear that we may have disagreed with many of our colleagues. But John was one who, when he had made up his mind up, he had made up his mind, and you respected that. John visited Alaska, and it helped validate his view that climate change is real, that it is something we have to deal with, and that we have to take practical steps to address it. And I agree with John. I don't need any convincing on that, and I am going to be proud to help achieve that goal.
  • I valued John's work on campaign finance reform and comprehensive immigration reform. I was never part of the gang on immigration, but my votes clearly marked me as a fellow traveler. We also shared a strong respect for our Native peoples. Both Arizona and Alaska have many Tribes and large concentrations of indigenous Americans, and his decades of work to advance the cause of Native people was legendary. Because John accomplished so much during his time here--we all talk about his time spent on the international front working on defense issues, but I think oftentimes the issues with Native Americans, Indian issues, were overlooked, so let me comment on that for a moment. Back in the 1990s, John joined with Senator Inouye of Hawaii on amendments to the Indian Self-Determination Act providing for Tribal self-governance compacting. That opened up a whole new era of opportunity for Alaska Tribes. It laid the groundwork for Alaska Tribes to take over the delivery of Native healthcare from a failing Federal bureaucracy. Now, around the State, whether you are up in Utqiagvik or down in Ketchikan, they enjoy award-winning, world-class healthcare in a system that the Native people control, and that really would not have been possible without people like John McCain fighting for our Native people.
  • I think that John would have been proud of me on the afternoon that he passed. I was in the village of Savoonga, which is a small community--about 800 people--on St. Lawrence Island, about 40 miles from Russia. It is in the Bering Sea. It is one of the most remote places in Alaska. I was there to conduct a field hearing--the Indian Affairs Committee--focused on poor housing conditions, overcrowded housing, where our Native people are forced to live in extraordinarily difficult homes with difficult sanitation problems in these very remote communities. John was really a champion for ending the Third World living conditions that too many of our Native people still endure. We have a lot of unfinished work on that front, and I plan to attack it with the same vigor John brought to the fight. I mentioned John's love for our military, for our veterans. He will long be remembered for his efforts to bring our military back from years of neglect and the devastating pain of sequestration. The story that we all know--John worked on major defense budgets and was an extraordinary advocate for all of our defense. I think my story and how it intersects with a very, very small group of elderly Alaska warriors demonstrates that this big, strong, gruff guy, who was truly taking on the world, had a very soft spot in his heart, and the kindness he showed to these few elderly Alaska Native Guard veterans is something that is worthy of sharing.
  • After Senator Stevens left the Senate in 2009, the Pentagon had tried to cut off the pensions of two dozen--just two dozen--elderly men who served in the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II. Senator Stevens had worked very hard to get their service counted as military service and to grant them veteran status, and, not unlike the way Ted did things, he took care of it in the appropriations process, so it was an earmark. Over the Christmas holiday, the Pentagon kind of worked to reinterpret that earmark. Needless to say, Ted was gone, and this was an important issue to these 24 elderly veterans, and so I moved an amendment on the Defense appropriations bill to reverse it. I talked to John, and he was pretty skeptical at first because, he said, it was an earmark. But then he asked whether these Native Guardsmen, these Eskimo Scouts, had actually seen war, and I was able to share with him the story of those who had stood lookout on the homeland in the Aleutian Islands, the reminder that in Alaska, we were the only American soil that was occupied by the Japanese in World War II and that it was these Native warriors who were standing guard, standing lookout. So, long story short, John knew that supporting these elderly veterans was the right thing to do.
  • There are so many things we can share about John, but really when I think about his legacy going forward, whether he is "Project Maverick," as my friend from South Carolina has said, or however we choose to remember him, I do hope that history will remember John as an institutionalist in the highest tradition of the Senate. John was committed to thoughtful debate and regular order. He was an effective committee chairman, respecting the interests of members on both sides. He managed his bills on the floor working hand-in-hand with the other side. These were tough bills. The annual Defense authorization bill draws something on the order of 600 amendments. He was always protective of committee prerogatives. He was known to put his foot down when appropriators sought to muscle out the authorizers. He was always looking toward compromise and bipartisanship.
  • John fought for our institution because he never lost sight of the fact that the legislative branch is a coequal branch of government, not subordinate to the White House. He took no guff--we all know--from the administration, no matter who was in charge. That wasn't just because John liked to flex his senatorial muscle; it was because he was a true believer in the Constitution and its checks and balances. He was a true believer in the institutions of government and a true believer in democracy. John certainly made his share of history, and he has earned his place in it. I think we all know how much we will miss him, his passion, his courage. His loss leaves us sad, but at the same time, I think it offers us a beacon of hope here in the Senate as we reflect on his life and his contributions.
  • Senator Graham observed that John will not be replaced by any one Senator. It is going to take all of us working together. It is going to take all of us to really accomplish what John knew we were capable of. By coming together, respecting one another, one another's principles, even when we disagree, and working through these disagreements to compromise--that is how we really honor John's legacy. There are a lot of words, and these words will come and go, but the way to truly honor him is to live out what he believed this Senate is capable of doing. We were reminded that there is a little John McCain in all of us. I think it would be good for us to remind one another of that, to urge the inner John McCain in each of us to present itself in a way that betters our institution. On behalf of the people of the 49th State, the great State of Alaska, I thank you, John McCain. I thank the family for the years that you gave him to us, to his country. We will take it from here, inspired by your service, John McCain, by your intellect, by your integrity, and by your determination to do right. May you rest in peace, John McCain.

Kavanaugh speech (October 2018)

Remarks on voting against the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh (5 October 2018)
We need to, we must do better by them. We must do better as a Legislative Branch. We have a moral obligation to do better than this.
  • I've come to the floor this evening to share my thoughts on what has been an extraordinarily long, difficult, and truly painful process. As we took up the cloture motion on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, the process that led us to this vote today has been, in my view, a horrible process. A gut-wrenching process, where good people have been needlessly hurt. Where a woman who never sought the public spotlight, was, I think, cruelly thrust into the brightest of spotlights. A good man, a good man, with sterling academic credentials and unblemished professional record, both as the lawyer, the professional lawyer he was, and judge, and also as a husband and father of two young girls, has been damaged terribly. And as both of these individuals, Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, have been harmed—their families have too. We need to, we must do better by them. We must do better as a Legislative Branch. We have a moral obligation to do better than this.
  • I spent more time evaluating and considering the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh than I have with any of the previous nominations to the United States Supreme Court that I've been privileged to review. I've had the opportunity to vote on five Justices prior to this. And I took my time. I was deliberate, thoughtful. Some accused me of being too deliberate, too thoughtful, taking too much time. But this is important to me. It should be important to all of us. And I know that it is important to all of us. And so I studied the record.
  • I sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a lengthy period of time, about an hour and a half, and asked the questions that I had and then did more due diligence. I reviewed the cases and I did my homework. I listened to the concerns that were raised by many in my state on issues that were all over the board. Whether it was a woman's right to choose, the Affordable Care Act, Executive Authority, deference to the agencies, Native issues—I took considerable time. And when the hearings came, not being on the Judiciary Committee, I paid attention. I followed the testimony of the judge, the very critical questioning from many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. And then when, at the end of the process, or so seemingly what we believed to be the end of the process, there were more questions, I went back to Judge Kavanaugh and had a good conversation with him. And then the allegations that we have been discussing and trying to understand more about came forward and we all moved from focusing on the issues to truly a discussion that none of us ever thought that we would be having when it came to the confirmation process for the highest court in the land.
And I was truly leaning towards supporting Judge Kavanaugh in his nomination as I looked to that record. But we know that in our role of advice and consent, it is not just the record itself. There is more that is attached to it. It is why, when in the state of Alaska, a nomination for a judge goes forward, you rate them not only on their professional competence, what they have demonstrated through their record, but also matters of temperament and demeanor—which are very, very important.
  • And so there was more work to be done. I was one who wanted to make sure that there was a process going forward. And when there were more questions that were raised after the initial process, I was one who joined in asking that the FBI step in and do further review. And so I have been engaged in this lengthy and deliberative process for months now. And I was truly leaning towards supporting Judge Kavanaugh in his nomination as I looked to that record. But we know that in our role of advice and consent, it is not just the record itself. There is more that is attached to it. It is why, when in the state of Alaska, a nomination for a judge goes forward, you rate them not only on their professional competence, what they have demonstrated through their record, but also matters of temperament and demeanor—which are very, very important.
  • So, we moved, we shifted that conversation, from so many of the issues I had been focused on to other areas that are also important in evaluating a nominee for the courts. But I listened very carefully to the remarks—the strong, well-articulated remarks—of my colleague and my friend who sits next to me here, Senator Collins. And I found that I agreed with many of the points that she raised on the floor earlier. I do not think that Judge Kavanaugh will be a vote to overturn Roe V. Wade. And I also join with her in saying that I do not think that protections for those with pre-existing conditions will be at risk. And I also do not think that he will be a threat to Alaska Natives. This is an issue that had certainly been raised. But I had extended conversations with the judge on just these issues. And I believe that he recognizes, as he told me, that Alaska Natives are not in that identical place as Native Hawaiians. Alaskan tribes are included on the list of federally recognized tribes and the fact remains that Native Hawaiians are not. This is a distinction. This is a difference. I am one who, in this body, has said I would like to see Native Hawaiians there. And I worked with my friend Senator Akaka when he was in this body to help advance that. I have supported those, but the fact remains that that constitutional status of Alaska Natives in the Indian Commerce Clause are simply not at play with this nomination. I don't believe that.
  • So, the question fairly asked, "You say that you think he's going to be there on issues that matter to Alaskans that you have taken strong positions on." The reason I could not support Judge Kavanaugh in the cloture motion the afternoon, is that in my role and my responsibility as one Senator on this floor, I take this obligation that we have in the role of advice and consent as seriously as anything that I am obligated or privileged to be able to vote on. And so I have a very high standard. I have a very high bar for any nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.
It is pretty high, it is really high, that a judge shall act at all times—not just sometimes when you're wearing your robe—in a manner that promotes public confidence. Public confidence. Where's the public confidence?
  • The Code of Judicial Conduct Rule 1.2 requires that a judge "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety." And I go back and I look to that. It is pretty high, it is really high, that a judge shall act at all times—not just sometimes when you're wearing your robe—in a manner that promotes public confidence. Public confidence. Where's the public confidence? So it is high. And even in the face of the worst thing that could happen, a sexual assault allegation; even in the face of an overly and overtly political process, a politicized process; even when one side of this chamber is absolutely dead set on defeating his nomination, from the very get-go, before he was even named; even in these situations, the standard is that a judge must "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety."
  • After the hearing that we all watched last week, last Thursday, it became clear to me, or it was becoming clearer that that appearance of impropriety has become unavoidable. And I've been deliberating, agonizing about what is fair. Is this too unfair a burden to place on somebody that is dealing with the worst, the most horrific allegations that go to your integrity, that go to everything that you are. And I think we all struggle with how we would respond. But I am reminded there are only nine seats on the bench of the highest court in the land and these seats are occupied by these men and women for their lifetime and so those who seek one of these seats must meet the highest standard in all respects at all times and that is hard.
  • Mr. President, we are at a time when many in this country have lost faith in the Executive Branch, and it's not just with this administration. We saw much of that in the last as well. And here in Congress, many around the country have just given up on us, they've just completely said, 'we've had enough.' But I maintain that the public still views, I still view, that there is some small shred of hope that remains with our judiciary. This judiciary that must be perceived as independent, as nonpartisan, as fair and balanced, in order for our form of government to function. And it's that hope, it's that hope that I seek to maintain. And I think that's why I have demanded such a high standard to maintain or regain that public confidence, because it is so critical that we have that public confidence in at least one of our three branches of government.
I believe that Judge Kavanaugh is a good man. He's a good man. He's clearly a learned judge, but in my conscience, because that's how I have to vote at the end of the day, with my conscience, I could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time.
  • Mr. President, I think we saw from the vote earlier today, we've seen from statements from several of our colleagues that it does appear that Judge Kavanaugh will be seated on the Supreme Court, without my vote. It is my hope, it is truly my hope that Judge Kavanaugh will share that same hope in rebuilding, maintaining a level of public confidence, that he will strive for that ideal every day. It's my hope that he will be that neutral arbiter, the umpire who only calls the balls and the strikes, that he will be that force for stability. I believe that Judge Kavanaugh is a good man. He's a good man. He's clearly a learned judge, but in my conscience, because that's how I have to vote at the end of the day, with my conscience, I could not conclude that he is the right person for the court at this time. And this has been agonizing for me with this decision. It is as hard a choice, probably as close a call as any that I can ever remember. And I hope, I hope and I pray that we don't find ourselves in this situation again. But I'm worried. I am really worried that this becomes the new normal, where we find new and even more creative ways to tear one another down. That good people are just going to say, "Forget it. It's not worth it." I'm looking at some of the comments that are being made, the statements that are being made against me, against my good friend, my dear friend from Maine. The hateful, the aggressive, the truly, truly awful manner which with so many are acting now is got to end. This is not who we are. This is not who we should be. This is not who we raise our children to be.
  • So, as we move forward in this very difficult time I think for this body and for this country I want to urge us to a place where we are able to engage in that civil discourse which is what the Senate is supposed to be all about, that we are able to show respect for one another's views and differences, and that when a hard vote is taken, that there is a level of respect for the decision that each of us makes. And there's another thing that I do hope, and again, I'll refer to my friend from Maine, and I will note, if there has been a silver lining in these bitter, bitter weeks, which quite honestly remains to be seen, I do think what we have seen is a recognition by both sides, a recognition by both sides that we must do more to protect and prevent sexual assault and to help the victims of these assaults. There has been a national discussion. There has been an outpouring of discussion, conversation, fears, tears, frustration, and rage. There's an emotion that really has been unleashed in these recent weeks, and these are discussions that we need to have as a country. We need to have these as a country. We need to bring these survivors to a place where they feel that they can heal. But until you come out of the shadow and do so without shame, it's pretty hard to heal.
  • I have met with so many survivors and I know that every single one of us has. And I've heard from colleagues as they have shared with me that they have been truly surprised, many stunned by what they are learning as the prevalence of this unfortunately in our society today. In Alaska, and the presiding officer knows in your state, the levels of sexual assault that we see within our Native American and our Alaska Native communities, the rates are incredibly devastating. It is not something that we say we'll get to tomorrow. We've heard those voices. We've heard those voices, and I hope that we have all learned something, that we owe it to the victims of sexual assault to do more and to do better and to do it now with them.
  • Mr. President I'm going to close and thank you, but I truly hope that we can be at that place where we can move forward in a manner that shows greater respect, greater comity. We owe it to the people of America to return to a less rancorous process. In the spirit of that comity, and again while I voted no on cloture today, and I will be a no tomorrow. I will, in the final tally, be asked to be recorded as present, and I do this because a friend, a colleague of ours is in Montana this evening and tomorrow at just about the same hour that we're going to be voting, he's going to be walking his daughter down the aisle and he won't be present to vote, and so I have extended this as a courtesy to my friend. It will not change the outcome of the vote, but I do hope that it reminds us that we can take very small, very small steps to be gracious with one another and maybe those small, gracious steps can lead to more. But, I know that is hard as these matters are that we deal with. We're humans, we have family that we love. We don't spend near enough time with them and making sure that we can do one small thing to make that family a little bit better is a better way for tomorrow.

American Energy Innovation Act (June 2020)

Remarks on American Energy Innovation Act (18 June 2020)
  • We have seen limits on business and travel and social activities, and we think about those limitations, the far-reaching consequences they have on our Nation's energy producers, whether it is those who produce oil and gas, coal, renewables, advanced technology such as nuclear power, and all those who help us produce our energy and use our energy more efficiently, all aspects have been impacted. At the hearing, we had some pretty good testimony that our witnesses were able to explain and quantify some of those impacts. We heard that U.S. oil production has declined by almost 2 million barrels per day. Spot prices for liquefied natural gas have effectively collapsed, creating challenges for export projects. Domestic electricity consumption is projected to decline by 5.7 percent this year, largely due to the closure of businesses and, of course, the shelter-in-place orders.
  • It is not just the oil and gas sector. The renewable energy sector has also faced substantial supply chain disruptions. The efficiency sector has faced health and safety restrictions in homes and buildings. Overall, we were told that the energy industry has lost an estimated 1.3 million jobs since early March, including more than 600,000 jobs associated with clean energy. It is a good reminder in terms of where we have seen this direct impact and the impact on jobs, but our hearing was also a reminder that the energy industry can be a key leader, be a sector that can really help lead our Nation's economic recovery. When you think about energy itself, this is a finished product. It is a feedstock. It is a raw material. It is an input. It is an output. It is value added, a natural resource, tradeable commodity, a precious asset. It is clearly critical infrastructure and emergency reserves. It is financial, collateral, and competitive exports. It is a source of high-paying and high-skilled jobs in its own right.
  • I think we recognize that current low prices are good for us. We are seeing our families pay less and, thus, they can devote to other priorities. The underlying message here is the energy industry is an important component to how we move to this phase of economic recovery. What can we do to help this industry and, thus, the broader economy recovery? It was interesting because we had a panel of five witnesses before us. Several of those witnesses all pointed to the same piece of legislation as one of the answers as to how we can help the economy recover, and that is a bill that those of us on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee developed throughout last year. We called it the American Energy Innovation Act. We refer to it as our energy bill. It will ensure that the United States remains a global energy leader while strengthening our national security, investing in clean technologies, and securing our Nation's supply chain.
  • It is a pretty wide-ranging bill. It covers everything from energy efficiency to renewables. We have a strong focus on carbon capture. The big anchor piece is energy storage. Advanced nuclear plays a key role and also vehicle technologies. We focused on mineral security and recognizing the key aspects of secure supply chains, grid and cyber security, workforce modernization. Really, it is all areas that will work to help our economy, boost our international competitiveness, and protect human health and the global environment. At the hearing on Tuesday, one of our witnesses described this energy bill, our American Energy Innovation Act, as "foundational." I really think it is foundational. Where are we with this foundational energy bill that has been the work of such a good, strong collaborative committee process? It was clearly timely for the Senate to be considering this in this year--certainly before the pandemic--and it is even more critical, more timely that we consider it now.
  • When we had an opportunity to bring this to the floor earlier, there was a desire and an interest in making sure that we were focusing on our clean and renewable energy sector. We do that within that bill. It has been interesting because in the past several weeks, we have heard calls from Members of this body to prioritize a robust clean energy recovery plan. There was a letter from 24 Members of the Senate who urged Senate leadership to "prioritize a robust clean energy recovery plan." In their letter, they call for investments in renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, clean vehicles, clean and efficient infrastructure, clean fuels, and workforce development. That sounds pretty much like what we included within our American Energy Innovation Act. I sent many of them just a quick letter detailing how our bill really does accomplish just that, including the specifics that focus on each of these priorities, and encourage them to help me pass it.
  • As you may recall, we had the American Energy Innovation Act on the Senate floor at the end of February just before the pandemic took hold. Again, I mentioned the collaborative process that went into building that bill. We spent a lot of time in the Energy Committee working through a lot of the issues that had some conflict and to reduce that conflict so we could get a good, strong bipartisan product. As a consequence, we have a bill that contains the priorities for more than 70 Senators. It is supported by more than 200 organizations. We incorporated 18 amendments on the floor working through that process. The Senate ultimately denied cloture on March 9. This was just before the shelter in place and the work from home orders began. We hit a wall there. The unfortunate reality is we hit that wall. We were derailed with this important legislative effort not because of an impasse that we had with the contents of our bill, but it was an unrelated dispute from another committee. It was not something that, as chairman, I could have anticipated. There was no warning that it was going to be an issue for our bill. In fairness, we didn't have any power as the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to work it out for this other committee. We were hamstrung by it.
  • Effectively, what happened then was a year of good, strong committee work by the Energy Committee is now being held hostage in a fight in another committee. I have been patient with this, but I would remind colleagues that we are not getting any more extra legislative days being added. The clock is ticking here. This is a matter that, again, when this came before us while we were on this floor trying to work out the last of the amendments, this came up at the last minute, and we were promised a resolution at that time. We will have this fixed in a month. Well, it has been over 3 months now since this became an issue. Again, we have lost valuable time. This issue from the EPW Committee is holding back a strong, bipartisan bill that would allow us to modernize our Nation's energy policies for the first time in more than a dozen years. In a week where I have certainly been reminded about the importance of energy and, again, heard good, strong support for our energy bill, I would tell my colleagues that we need to redouble our efforts on this to advance this bill. We need to unlock this energy bill, which is a good bill that is ready to go, from the complications that have been created within another committee.
  • I like to pride myself on being a pretty good team player around here. I want to give people space to work their issues out, but I think it is time, again, for those who are able to hold the key to this to help us unlock this so we can move a significant priority--not just for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee but a significant priority for every Member in this Chamber because it doesn't make any difference if you are a Republican or a Democrat, if you come from an urban area or a rural area, when it comes to the strength of our Nation's economy, the foundational interest here, the foundations rest solidly on energy. So an opportunity to update and modernize our energy policies in a way that benefits us all is something that I would hope we can all agree to. I want to get this bill moving.
  • We had a win this week that originated in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee when it comes to some of our land and conservation measures. The Great American Outdoors Act passed by a strong margin. It was the work of a lot of good people, but both measures, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as the Restore Our Parks Act, began with the good work of a committee working together to move those pieces of legislation through the committee process. It is not perfect, in my view, but I knew these were good policies that many Members across both sides of the aisle wanted to place a priority on. Let's figure out how we can make something like that happen. I am proud of the fact that we can move good initiatives through this committee.

SEMI Act (April 2021)

Remarks on SEMI Act (21 April 2021)
  • I came to the floor today to talk about something that has been top of my mind for a period of time, and I wanted to bring it to Members' attention today because of some recent articles of late as it relates to national security and global competitiveness, particularly as they relate to domestic resource development. In recent months, since the beginning of this administration, I have spoken out in concern at the direction that I have seen the new administration take with regard to energy security and how that relates to Alaska. I have spoken out at length about my opposition to several of these Executive orders that were very early on relating to leasing and permitting moratoria in my State. In fact, there were eight specific orders that were directed to one State and to one State only. That is a pretty hard hit for Alaska.
  • In other areas, I don't believe that additional Federal lands and waters in Alaska should be placed off-limits. We already as a State hold more public lands than any other State, and by considerable degree. I don't believe our public land order removal process should be paused. This was an announcement that just came out of the Department of the Interior last week. They say they are pausing it, but effectively, it could be delayed or abandoned not just for these next 2 years going forward but permanently. What this effectively does is it creates almost de facto wilderness, if you will, because you have placed land in a limbo, in a purgatory for decades. Nobody can do anything with it as these PLOs, these public land orders remain in place. I note--no great secret around here--like most Alaskans, I strongly support our resource development industry and the men and the women who work within it. They are my friends. They are my neighbors. I fish with them. I recognize the importance and the value of what they do. I have worked hard here in the Senate and for a long time to ensure that the industry's continued centrality is allowed to prosper, not only because of them, the people I know, but because of what it means for our country, for our economy, our State's budget, our prosperity, and also for our environment.
  • After years of lagging behind, the United States has come to a better place on energy in recent years. We have seen domestic production rising. We have seen our emissions falling. We have created jobs. We have generated revenues. We have changed the world geopolitically even as we have lessened our impact on the climate. But these kinds of gains can't be taken for granted. They can't be actively ignored. They certainly should not be discarded. We have to acknowledge that this energy renewal has not been even across the country. It has taken place largely on State and private lands. We have very limited private land in Alaska. And instate activity--we have been proudly producing for a while. But we also have, again, much land that is federally held, and we have only seen help arrive with any kind of activity and production on Federal land in the past few years. I would suggest that we cannot afford that forward progress to be reversed, but unfortunately that is the way it feels right now. The threat is that this administration is going to take an approach that is going to take us backwards.
  • So the question, I think, is a fair one for us to ask, to discuss here. It is an important question. What happens if we just decide we are going to turn our backs on this, our American energy? What happens if we really do move in this direction of just keeping it in the ground? What happens if we really do close our eyes to our domestic energy sources, these assets, if we close our eyes to the contributions that they provide? I will suggest to you that there are a few warning signs that we have up on the horizon. Oil prices are back up above $60 a barrel. This actually helps my State; I will be honest there. We will accept that for budgetary purposes. But we all talk about what happens typically around Memorial Day. We have driving season coming on. We are still in the midst of a pandemic. But if the United States artificially restricts its supplies and demand rebounds rapidly, where does this put us?
  • I mentioned that there have been some articles of late that just really kind of struck me. It is interesting because I thought they were pretty significant, but it seems they are relatively unnoticed here in Washington. According to Bloomberg, Russia has now supplanted Saudi Arabia to become the third largest supplier of crude oil in the United States. Canada is our No. 1. But there has been a series of circumstances. As our domestic production is falling, the Saudis have also reduced theirs, and it has been Venezuela. Venezuela is subject to sanctions. Their production has pretty much gone offline to the United States. Part of what we are seeing, though, is the refusal on the Federal Government's side to approve cross-border pipeline infrastructure. Canada, again, is our largest--we import more from Canada than anywhere else, and they have greater capacity to help us out here so that we don't have to take it from Russia. But, instead, we haven't been able to take more from Canada to fill in that gap because of pipeline capacity. So what happens is, we are sending more of our money to Russia at a time when we are not on very good terms with Russia. Need we say elections? Need we say SolarWinds? Need we say what we are seeing from Putin? This is what is happening: We are sending more of our dollars to Russia, and they are sending us more of the resources that we could produce here at home or perhaps at least import them from some friendlier nations.
  • U.S. crude oil production fell from an average high of 12.2 million barrels per day in 2019 to an average of 11.3 million in 2020. According to the Energy Information Administration, this loss in domestic production will return the United States to being a net petroleum importer in 2021 and 2022. By all accounts, a sizable chunk of this will come from Russia. What is going to happen is, we are going to move from this position where we have been in these past few years where we have had some real energy security here because we have been producing, and we have been producing to the point that we have been able to even supply to our friends and allies. But now, with policies that are taking us in a different direction and still knowing that we need the resource, we are turning to Russia.
  • This is what really galls me so much: In 2020, the United States imported 538,000 barrels of oil per day from Russia. In Alaska--we recognize Alaska is a great producing State. Despite our immense potential and desire to bring it to market, in 2020, we were producing an average of 448,000 barrels per day. It just begs the question: Is this what we really want? Is this what we really want, for Russia to account for more of America's energy supply than Alaska? We both have similar environments, both big, but oil production goes on in areas that are tough to produce in. I will hold Alaska's environmental record over that of Russia any day--in fact, over most countries and even most States any day. One article put it this way. They said: "America's increasing reliance on Russian oil is at odds with U.S. energy diplomacy." Let's kind of put it in context. The position that we have taken with Nord Stream 2--basically what we have said is that we are asking those in Europe who need Russia's gas--we are saying we need to be tough on this. We need to break Russia's hold here. For all the years--it has been 7 years since Russia annexed Crimea and demonstrated to the world that they are not afraid to flex their muscles when it comes to energy exports in order to achieve their geopolitical goals.
  • So we have been saying on Nord Stream 2: Europe, you guys, don't go there. Yet we have to look at ourselves here because we are telling Europe "Limit your reliance on Russia for gas," but over here, we are happy to step up our imports from Russia on oil. The President has just recently imposed tougher sanctions on Russia, as he absolutely should, but I think we need to be eyes wide open here, folks, in terms of what it means when we need that resource. I do recognize that much of this discussion on Russia and how Russia has supplemented Venezuelan crude--I recognize that most of the oil that is being imported is heavy and that this is a situation with our gulf coast refineries that are specifically geared for that. I do recognize that they have fewer options right now, but I do think this is a conversation that we need to be talking about. We just can't sit back and say: Well, this is just the way it is. Congress and the administration need to be taking the steps necessary to ensure that we in this country have a strong, stable supply of domestic energy to meet our current demand, our future demand, and, to the greatest extent possible, the demand from our allies. Russia is positioning itself to capitalize on all of that. They produce from wherever they want, and they are going to sell to wherever they can.
  • The least that we can do here at home is to support our own responsible production from States like Alaska, so that we have our supply--our own supply-and can provide a diversified commercial alternative. Moving from oil and gas briefly here, Alaska is also ready to help in another increasingly crucial area and that is with mineral development. Our history of tectonic events has created a geological environment that fosters deposits of a wide variety of minerals that are critical to both our current and our future economies. Back in 2018, the Department of the Interior designated 35 "critical" minerals based on their importance to our economy and security, as well as their susceptibility to supply and disruption. These minerals are essential for everything. They help us with our advanced missile systems, solar panels, batteries for electric vehicles, your cell phones--everything. Our military is certainly aware of this. They recognize the vulnerable position that we are in. Our manufacturers recognize the vulnerability. These are products that we use on a daily basis.
  • Right now, the United States is import-reliant on 31 of the 35 minerals designated as "critical." We have relatively no domestic production. We rely completely on imports to meet our demand for 14 of these. And, of course, most of where we are importing these materials are from China. That is not OK. That shouldn't be acceptable to us. I think we all should agree on the need to rebuild our domestic mineral supply chains. There has been good, positive conversation about what we can do. I feel this is one of those areas that is a growing vulnerability. It used to be that we would talk about our vulnerability on the Middle East for our oil, and then policies changed and we reduced our reliance on that. That is why I am anxious. I am concerned about what I am seeing translate going forward. But I think we need to be, again, with eyes wide open when it comes to our mineral dependence and our reliance on these important materials for what we need to be a strong nation. I think this is a pressing and long-term security threat that we face in this country. We have seen it play out in light of the COVID pandemic. We have seen the vulnerability of international supply chains. I thought it was great. It was so important that the administration really focused in on this. The new administration is focusing on this in a good way, and I appreciate that.
  • When President Biden released the first part of his infrastructure proposal, focusing on international domestic supply chains, he has one section there about electric vehicles. In the White House fact sheet, it says the plan "will enable automakers to spur domestic supply chains from raw materials to parts, retool factories to compete globally, and support American workers to make batteries and EVs." This is the type of policy that we should all want to get behind, broadened out to every industry, not just to a select few. But the question here, though, is whether the administration is willing to accept what is going to be necessary in order to achieve this goal to have these secure supply chains, especially when it comes to expanding our domestic supply of raw materials. It is going to require approval of mining projects, and that has been a challenge for us. That has been a challenge for us.
  • I am a big fan of Canada. They are our neighbor, but if we are going to be adding Canada as a 51st State to help us with our minerals and access to minerals, let's not forget the 49th State, because Alaska has good, strong resources. Where we seem to have problems is in gaining access, whether it is in the permitting process or just the ability to move forward with some of our mineral potential. Again, I am not suggesting that we shouldn't be looking to our friends to build these alliances, particularly with our neighbors directly to the north and to the south. This is good. I am not suggesting: Let's not be talking to Canada. That is an important part of how we really work to build these secure supply chains. All I am suggesting is that we here in America need to also look to the strength of our resource assets.
  • I think we need a rational, clear-headed, eyes-wide-open approach to energy and mineral development. We don't want to go backward on energy, and we can't be caught flatfooted on minerals. We have the resources. We have the highest labor standards in the world and the highest environmental standards in the world. Our energy workers and our miners will hold themselves to those standards. Instead of importing more from places like Russia and China, we need to free ourselves from them to the extent that we can establish ourselves as this global alternative. I have kind of taken that--actually, it is not something new. In the beginning of the 116th Congress, I prepared a white paper. We called it "The American and Global"--well, what we called it was a pretty cool title. It is a great little publication that should have gotten more notice, but like a good wine, it comes with time: "With Powers So Disposed, America and the Global Strategic Energy Competition." I outline in this a strategic energy initiative designed to sharpen and direct our tools of energy related to economic statecraft and to enhance the geopolitical position of the country.
  • From that or as a jump-off from that, I am introducing my Strategic Energy and Minerals Initiative Act, which we call the SEMI Act. This legislation will enable U.S. companies to better compete in global markets, and it promotes the responsible domestic production of our oil, gas, and minerals. I think these are initiatives that are good for us to be looking critically at, again, as we move forward with this administration's priorities on not only how we can build infrastructure--build it better, build it cleaner, build it with a renewable future--but we have to recognize that when we build things, we need base elements. Know that Alaska is ready, willing, and able to play a role on all of these fronts. We have tremendous stores of resources, but equal to those tremendous stores of resources is the responsibility that I believe Alaskans feel to be good stewards as we access those resources to allow for a level of sustainability, whether it is with our fisheries or whether it is with the subsistence, the livelihoods of those who rely on the food and animals on the land. We believe that we can contribute to our national security and our global competitiveness, while at the same time working to protect the environment, but what we need is a chance to be able to do that.

Quotes about Murkowski

  • None of this sloppiness would have been possible, however, had BP not been making its predictions to a political class eager to believe that nature had indeed been mastered. Some, like Republican Lisa Murkowski, were more eager than others. The Alaskan senator was so awestruck by the industry's four-dimensional seismic imaging that she proclaimed deep-sea drilling to have reached the very height of controlled artificiality. "It's better than Disneyland in terms of how you can take technologies and go after a resource that is thousands of years old and do so in an environmentally sound way," she told the Senate energy committee.
    • Naomi Klein On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal (2019)
  • Together, these two relatively centrist Republicans controlled the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination—which had looked assured until a few weeks ago, when several women came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.) How did these two lawmakers, who have at times been treated as a pair on high-stakes votes, reach contrary ends?
  • In this case, though, Collins chose not to listen to a survivor—or, more exactly, she found reasons not to listen. Murkowski felt differently. After her vote on Friday morning, she told reporters that she was on her way back to her office to work on a floor statement about her decision. Last month, a reporter asked Murkowski if she had ever had a #MeToo moment. Murkowski answered yes, but did not elaborate.
  • Knowles, 61, and Murkowski, 47, are two of the biggest political names in Alaska. Knowles served as mayor of Anchorage for six years in the 1980s and was governor from 1995 to 2003. Murkowski served in the Legislature for four years before being appointed by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski, to the Senate seat he vacated when he was elected governor in 2002.
  • Alaska voters should all see the clear and undeniable fact that Lisa Murkowski is working hard to protect women’s health care. Preserving the right to choose will take bipartisan action and leadership. Senator Murkowski has a proven track record of effectiveness and the seniority to work with her colleagues to reverse today’s dangerous precedent.
  • I will not be endorsing, under any circumstances, the failed candidate from the great State of Alaska, Lisa Murkowski. She represents her state badly and her country even worse. I do not know where other people will be next year, but I know where I will be — in Alaska campaigning against a disloyal and very bad Senator.
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