The Alaska Legislature has oil on the brain this session, and in a speech before lawmakers in Juneau on Thursday, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski touched on many oil and gas issues that are being tackled at the federal level, including offshore drilling in the Arctic, the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and a perennial hot topic in both Alaska and Washington, D.C., the opening of ANWR.
Last week, Alaska Congressman Don Young and the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation -- for the 12th time -- that would open a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development. Murkowski said that opening ANWR would happen eventually, but she couldn't say when, if ever, the Senate would be able to push the legislation through to the President's desk.
"Even with high unemployment, $100 oil and an empty Treasury, we still don't seem to have the 60 votes to break the filibuster in the Senate," Murkowski said. "...It won't become law until we have a firm majority and a supportive administration -- or until a major international calamity shows why we should have opened it long ago.
"ANWR will happen, and I will not give up until it succeeds," she told the Legislature.
Murkowski then quickly turned to other topics, including efforts to transfer approval of air permits from the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of the Interior, which she said would speed the process for oil companies seeking approval to drill offshore in the Chukchi Sea.
Murkowski also touched on a proposal to move an F-16 squadron from Eielson Air Force base in Fairbanks to Elmendorf Airforce Base in Anchorage, a proposal opposed by the Alaska delegation for fear of reducing Eielson's significance.
"We should not pit Eielson versus Elmendorf, or JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage) versus JPARC (Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex in the Interior)," Murkowski said.
You can read Murkowski's full speech here.
Correction: This story originally linked to Sen. Murkowski's Alaska Day speech from 2011.