Murkowski uses rising gas prices to call for opening Alaska's oil fields

A few weeks ago, Murkowski said boosting Alaskan oil production was her top priority and that rising prices put drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) “back on the table.”

Thanks to turmoil in the Middle East and other factors, the average gas price in the U.S. rose to $3.529 per gallon Thursday, according to the AAA. At this same time last year, gas prices hovered at around $2.75 per gallon.

“It should not take an upheaval in North Africa to convince us that sending billion of dollars to countries that may or may not be our friends, is a bad idea,” said Murkowski, who is the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “We need to focus on two parallel tracks here. Increased domestic production and decreased consumption.”

Murkowski said she believed some of the revenue raised by domestic oil exploitation should be used to promote alternate and clean energy sources for the future.

Gas prices have been on the mind of several Republican senators lately. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dedicated his leader time on Thursday to blasting the administration for trying to curtail domestic energy production.

Following the floor speech by Murkowski, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) noted that fuel prices in his state were “verging on unaffordable.”

“Rising gas prices negatively affect every sector of our economy,” said Ensign.

— Ben Geman contributed to this report