U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska
Senator Lisa Murkowski is commending her colleagues, Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat John Kerry, for offering a bipartisan approach to climate change. The Alaskan senator tells host Jeff Young she supports many of the ideas outlined in their recent New York Times column, including the need to move forward with nuclear power, offshore drilling and clean coal, but she’s still not ready to commit to a cap and trade system for cutting emissions.
YOUNG: David Jenkins of Republicans for Environmental Protection. He put Senator Lisa Murkowski’s name at the top of that list of Republicans who might warm to a bipartisan approach to climate change. She’s the top Republican on the Senate’s Energy committee and a major ally of the oil industry – her state, Alaska, is a major oil producer. But Senator Murkowski also recognizes that Alaska’s on the front lines of global warming—already seeing melting permafrost, sea ice loss and extreme coastal erosion. We called her up to get her thoughts. Senator Murkowski, thanks for joining us.
MURKOWSKI: Good to be with you, Jeff.
YOUNG: Now, your colleagues, Senators Graham and Kerry appear to have reached an agreement, in principle anyway, on a possible bipartisan approach to climate change legislation. What do you make of the ideas that they’ve laid out?
MURKOWSKI: Well, I’ll tell you that I’m encouraged that you can have a Democratic Senator from a state like Massachusetts join together with a Republican Senator from the state of South Carolina to sit down and talk honestly and intellectually about how we can advance climate change legislation. I think it’s good. I’m going to be meeting with Senator Graham to talk about more of the specifics of what he is considering, but the proposal that was outlined in the opinion piece I think holds out some promise.
YOUNG: In general, and I understand that the devil is always in the details with these things, but in general, is this the sort of thing you think you might support someday?
MURKOWSKI: Well, again we need to recognize that there has been no legislation; there has been no draft put out there. I like the reality that they present that in order to meaningfully reduce our emissions we must have enhanced nuclear in this country. I think there’s also a recognition that increased domestic production of our resources, whether they be coal or whether they be oil or gas, I think that there is a recognition that this goes toward our energy security and what we need to do is figure out those technologies that will allow them to be more clean-burning to reduce our carbon footprint.
I would really want to understand how their proposed cap and trade piece works. I have some real apprehension about the opportunity for manipulation under cap and trade proposal. I have some real concerns about how the offsets would work. I have real concerns about distribution of allowances. So, those types of issues would have to be made far more clear to me before I would venture a guess as to where I might go.
YOUNG: So, it sounds to me like you’re warming up to the idea. Cautiously optimistic about being able to support something.
MURKOWSKI: I am watching carefully with the proposals that have been generated thus far, but I am also optimistic that at this point in the process you have people of goodwill and good intentions that continue to talk to try to deal with one of the greatest challenges that our nation faces.
YOUNG: Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican from Alaska, thanks very much for your time.
MURKOWSKI: Thank you, I appreciate it.
YOUNG: For more of our interview with Senator Murkowski and more analysis of the progress of that Climate Change Bill, go to our website, LOE dot org.
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