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tv   Sen. Lisa Murkowski  CSPAN  July 23, 2018 12:32am-12:59am EDT

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announcer: now, as part of c-span's alaska weekend, an interview with senator lisa murkowski. she talks about her home state, her role as chair of the natural -- of the senate natural resources committee and her thoughts on supreme court nominee brett kavanaugh. this is just under 30 minutes. >> senator lisa murkowski of alaska, there are not too many third-generation alaskans around, is there? sen. murkowski: it's getting to be more and more. my husband and i are contributing with a fourth-generation. hopefully both boys will want to plant roots in the state. it is something i am proud of. i love my state, and i love my family's history there. >> what brought your grandparents to alaska?
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sen. murkowski: the story from my dad's side is that everybody wanted to come up for the gold. he made it as far as the most southern community, and realized he did not have enough money to get up to the gold fields, so he stayed there and went to work in a bank where he cashed out the miners when they came in with gold. on my moms side, she was born in nome. her dad was a brand-new attorney and he got a message from one of his buddies saying come to alaska, come to this town. there is only one lawyer, and as long as there is only one lawyer, there is not much work. i need somebody. he came up as a very young man
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and as they say, the rest is history. both my parents grew up in the town, where i was born. southeast alaska as a kid growing up, and i lived in anchorage and fairbanks. i have got good roots throughout the state. >> what is the difference between nome and where you were born? sen. murkowski: to begin with, a couple thousand miles. in terms of similarities, you are both off the grid, so to speak. ketchikan is an island, and nome is on the mainland but might as well be an island in terms of its isolation. they are both communities that i think the pioneers looked to as a place of opportunity. nome for the gold rush. ketchikan was about the strength of the fisheries, which drew
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not only people from the lower 48 but a strong filipino contingency. both pioneering towns in their own right that way. both beautiful communities to this day, i love them. >> what does your chairmanship of the energy and natural resources committee bring to alaska? sen. murkowski: i think it allows alaska to be in that national spotlight when it comes to our energy resources. we are a resource rich state. 72,000 some odd folks. we don't have that many people, but we have more natural resources, whether it be trees, fish, oil, minerals, natural gas, coal. an extraordinary mineral base. the opportunity to contribute to
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the national conversation on energy is extraordinarily important, and coming from an energy producing state like alaska, it becomes all the more important. >> natural gas is growing in alaska? sen. murkowski: it is growing. we have been producing natural gas for decades. for 40 plus years, we shipped lng out of the cook inlet area which is down in the south central area to japan. it was the longest running contract for export out of the united states for natural gas. and it was coming right out of cook inlet. so we have got good gas reserves down in the south central area, in cook inlet, but we also have extraordinary untapped reserves up in our north slope. we have the potential for
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methane hydrate, unconventional gas. it is extraordinary. our challenge has never been, do we have the resource? our challenge has been how do you move the resource to the market? going back to your question about the role of my chairmanship on the natural resources committee can play, that has been an important part of how we work to move out access to alaska's resources. the resources are there, how do you move them? murkowski, in your view, has climate change affected alaska? sen. murkowski: absolutely. absolutely. as one who was born and raised there, and who travels widely around the state, particularly to some of our very remote areas, areas that are predominantly on the coast, but
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into some arctic areas where quite honestly, there has not been a lot of focus from folks on the outside, unelected -- elected leaders or otherwise. i have an opportunity to come in and see for myself, to sit down, to hear from elders about what they have observed. these are folks, they might not have a phd, but they have a phd in living and they can tell you what they are seeing, with the sea ice and the consequence of erosion that is coming about because the sea ice is receding, allowing waves to build up. it's not just coastal erosion, it is in so many other areas. it is what you're seeing in habitats, things growing in places they had not been before. in migratory paths, where the
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caribou are, following the fisheries. i look honestly at the reality i see in my state and i believe that our climate is changing and we are seeing the impacts, and how we are able to adapt and how we are able to mitigate is something that as a lawmaker i try to help our state with on a daily basis. >> you have also recently passed legislation to help with some of the indigenous populations in alaska, didn't you? loan guarantees? sen. murkowski: loan guarantees. when i think about the many ways we can help, that we here in congress can help those in our native communities deal with, whether it is the impact of
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climate change through helping them develop infrastructure that will push back against the tide. that is pretty tough. it is very expensive. offering assistance, technical assistance, loan guarantees, grant programs, scientific assistance, research data. there is a host of different ways we can help. but i think it is also important to recognize these are not just initiatives that would focus on moving a village, for instance, a community threatened by erosion and they will lose their school, they will lose their air strip. there are other impacts we see with climate change. particularly health-related impacts.
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if you have an area that is now drier than it was before, you have levels of dust because you don't have paved roads. so you have got respiratory issues children may be dealing with. there are a host of different ways we have to look at this as an issue, and the threats to the people are i believe apparent. >> there are three of you in congress representing alaska. 3714 miles from here is juno -- is juneau. do you ever feel like you are fighting against the tide to get people down here to understand? sen. murkowski: it is always an education. i can talk about alaska to my colleagues and to members of the administration, but even they will admit they really did not get it until they flew to
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alaska, until they were in that situation where they realized, wait, she was right, there are really no roads down here. over 80% of communities in the state of alaska are not connected by road. your bus that wants to try to get around alaska, good luck with that. we have a marine highway system, up.get on a ferry and go we have one that goes up and one that goes down, and that is our road system. when you think about rural, everybody has rural in the ir state. they say, i understand. to them, rural is you drive a long way, you finally get to a rough and bumpy road, a little town after that, and another rough and bumpy road.
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and then you are in rural. for alaska, it is beyond rural, it is frontier. it is beyond what most people can relate to. unless and until you are there, to be able to take the secretary of energy out to a little community outside of bethel, alaska, where it is not connected by road. but in the wintertime, the rivers freeze over, and the way we access it is to drive down the river on the ice. the secretary said it was the first time he'd been in a motorcade on a frozen river. you have to experience it. i think you can try to relate, but you have to experience it. getting members of congress up to see it, getting cabinet
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members up to see it is important. we will have a busy summer, because people want to come up. people are not as inclined to come up in the wintertime. it is as good or better in the winter. >> you bring some of your colleagues up to the arctic natural wildlife refuge, did they see what the pipeline looks like, the areas you want to open for more drilling? sen. murkowski: when you go into the 1002 area, that piece at the top of alaska in the north slope that has been set aside, you will not see pipeline. there is no pipeline. there is nothing in that 1002 area. there is the community, and that
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community has its own airstrip and they have got a school and a community hall, and they have a little restaurant, not really restaurant, a little lodging. but that is what is in the area existing. there is one exploration well that was made back in the early 1980's, and that is it. it looks like a small little skinny box sitting there. otherwise, it is nothing but flat tundra. green and marshy in the summer and white and perfectly flat in the wintertime. that is the 1002 area. outside of those boundaries, on state lands, that is where you will see the development that has come about through
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prudhoe bay exploration and the ongoing discovery. and prudhoe bay is about 80 miles to the west of where you would be in the 1002 area. when i take members up that want to see the area, we will fly up ba --d horse.prudhoe -prudhoe bay, which is the original field built 40-plus years ago. i actually worked in the bay when i was just out of high school -- excuse me, yes, it was just out of high school, i was in college. i worked constructing the pipeline, i spent a full summer, it was extraordinary. you see, that development, that is what people would call the
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elephant find. that is what changed the state of alaska in terms of revenues to the state. then you have what would be described as more satellite fields that spoke out in state areas, further to the west. what we are seeing now with the level of exploration and the signs they are seeing between the satellite areas and the state lands and the opportunities within the npra, the national petroleum reserve, which is further to the west of the 1002, that's where you seeing some pretty strong development right now. >> what would you say to people who are concerned about the environment and think oil or gas drilling would be the wrong thing to do? sen. murkowski: i would invite them to come up, i think it is
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important for them to see. it takes me back to my earlier comments about you have to see alaska to believe and understand it. what you see when you come into prudhoe bay, the dead horse area, is a mature, developed oilfield that was developed using the technologies from 45 years ago. it is a much bigger footprint. you then go out to, for instance, the alpine field, or what conoco is doing. you look at the footprint and how we have reduced the footprint so many times over. people can't even believe. is this all you are talking about, all you are working off of? this small gravel pad is hosting this level of expiration
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-- of exploration activity? the reason they are able to do it is because of changes in the technology that have come about in the past four decades-plus. one well that can dive down and spoke out in an area up to eight miles in radius. that's what our technology is delivering to us. you don't see it on the surface, the caribou don't see it on the surface, the people who may live in the region can't see it on the surface. this is what we are trying to do. we don't want to come in and take the land just to take the land. that is not part of anybody's plan. we want to be able to access a resource that is below the surface, do so in a way that is sufficient, is claim, as environmentally sound, allows for the continued subsistence
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activity of the native people who live in the region. there are not a lot of communities or people, but we want to make sure the native people who have lived there for thousands of years are able to continue harvesting their caribou, are able to continue harvesting the whale that comes through on an annual basis and sustains them throughout the winter. there is a balance that goes on in alaska that i am proud to talk about. because we have made sure that the balance is there for the people first who live there, who need not only the jobs, the resource, but the economy that comes with it. the reality we have is that in the north slope borough, you have a school system that is
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able to hire pretty good teachers, you have health care that is available for the people who live in this region that is to be admired, you can afford your utility costs in barrow. barrow is powered by natural gas. it comes from the oilfield. you compare that to some of the communities that are still 100% reliant on diesel fuel to stay warm. what development has brought to the people in the region, it has brought about change, and i know that there is resistance, there is always some resistance to change, but when it also brings the benefit of jobs and resources and the ability to
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live in a cold, dark place, to be able to be warm and make sure your kids are educated, to make sure you have the opportunity for health care, these are some of the benefits and advantages that having development in the region brings. but the people still demand, and i still demand as their representative, that their ability to access the resources on the land for their subsistence, food nutrition, and also it is part of their identity. they are the people of the whale, the people of the caribou, they identify with their food source by name. we cannot take that away from them. we are no longer doing active exploration in the offshore as shell was doing some years ago. but when shell was out there,
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they had stipulations and agreements and memorandums of understanding that required when the bowhead whale were migrating through, you're out of the water. the engines are not running, you cannot be out there. when i tell that to people in the lower 48 who come from producing places, north dakota or california, tell them that when the whale come through, there is no exploration, there is no nothing going on, they say what? you can't possibly do that. i say no, that is a condition. that is how you get your social license to operate. you have to work with the people who live there. the indigenous peoples who have been there 1000 years. it is about balance. it is about balance and it is not easy, but it is very important. >> senator lisa murkowski is
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chair of the energy and natural resources committee in the senate and the senior senator from alaska. final question. in the next couple of weeks, a lot of attention will be paid to you when it comes to the brett kavanaugh nomination. you have had this before, but what is that like, to have that attention? sen. murkowski: i like to say us inlook, every one of the senate have exactly the same vote. i have one vote, as does the junior senator from alaska, as does the most senior member of the united states senate. but i know there is a great deal of attention has been trained on me because, primarily the issue of roe v. wade and what will happen when kennedy, who was viewed as a swing member on the
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supreme court, when he leaves and judge kavanagh replacing -- were to replace him, what will happen to the balance? it's not just the balance on women's reproductive issues, so many other issues are a concern for alaskan constituents. we as a state believe very strongly in ensuring we are respecting second amendment rights, for instance. but trying to identify or distill out and say there is one issue for me that will guide my determination on this nomination or any future nomination for the united states supreme court, that is not how i operate. i have been looking at judge kavanagh and his record holistically just as i did with every other justice i have had an opportunity to weigh in on, whether it was justice kagan,
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gorsuch orr or roberts. i am perhaps taking more time than some would like me to. some on the right would like me to decide right now to support him, and those on the left would say, you need to decide right now that he is just not acceptable. i don't operate that way. i will take my time. i will be thoughtful. i have joked with my son, who is finishing up law school, that i feel like i am back in law school because i am reading the opinions. i want to gauge for myself. i know i am not going to be able to ask him a question on what will you do in x case? i would not ask that question and he would not answer that question. so what i am trying to do is to discern if is judge kavanagh has the qualities i think we are all looking for in a judge. the judicial temperament, the
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character, the intelligence, the balance, the desire to truly follow the law rather than to try to move things in a more predetermined or perhaps political outcome. so i want to know, how does he view precedent? what does he consider or how does he consider law to be settled? i am looking forward to the conversations. i think it will be more than several weeks. the judiciary committee has to go through a pretty voluminous records request. you have a judge who has been on the bench now in the d.c. circuit for 12 years, there are a lot of opinions out there. you have his history in the bush administration, so you have further records out there. i am going to be following all
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of it, and i am ok being in that space of people accusing me of being too thoughtful on this. i want to be too thoughtful and i think alaskans expect me to be thoughtful. and i am welcoming their opinions, their views, everybody comes at it with something they care about. there is a process ahead of me, and as you have noted, i am in the swirl because i haven't been pegged into either box. and i won't be pegged into a box, i'm going to do my own work on this and do what alaskans expect me to do, which is be thorough and thoughtful. announcer: as part of c-span's alaska weekend, here is an interview with alaska senator dan sullivan. he talks about the top issues in his state, as well as his support for supreme court


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