Murkowski: Arctic not priority for administration

Sen. Lisa Murkowski took to the Senate floor on Monday to press the administration on Arctic development and exploration.

The Alaska Republican has made the case for the U.S. to take a leadership role in the Arctic as new opportunities arise from its changing landscape.

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As the ice continues to melt in the Arctic, once closed passages are opening and an increasing number of countries are using new ice breaking infrastructure to clear the way for transit and trade.

Over the last several weeks, Murkowski has pressed cabinet members on budget priorities for the Arctic.

They "have assured me, yes, Arctic is a priority, but couldn't say what budget requests they had obtained for the Arctic," Murkowski said on Monday.

"It is apparent in my view that this administration is not willing to devote resources necessary to make the Arctic a priority."

Murkowski said she is not optimistic the U.S. is on the same trajectory as other nations like China, Japan and Russia, which are already making headway in the uncharted region.

She stressed the untapped potential for further oil and gas exploration in the region, a contentious issue between industry and environmentalists, who say the Arctic should be left untouched as the impacts of climate change grow.

"U.S. has never been last in a race to the future," Murkowski said. "We will continue to take a back seat and miss out on resources development and new opportunities to create jobs."