Sen. Murkowski meets with Kerry on Arctic issues

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann Murkowski​​Democrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' The fates of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump MORE (R-Alaska) met with Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE to discuss what she thinks the Obama administration’s focus should be for diplomacy with Arctic nations.

Murkowski, chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said her main goal in the 40-minute meeting Wednesday was to reduce what she sees as the administration’s extreme focus on climate change as a top Arctic issue, at the expense of other priorities.

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Later this year, the United States will take the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, an international body of nations with land in the Arctic region.

“The secretary is very focused on issues related to climate,” Murkowski said later in a video about the meeting, which was closed to the press.

“I have stated to many that while climate is a very real issue and a pressing issue, that it is not and should not be the sole focus of the United States’ priorities when we assume the chairmanship.”

Murkowski said Kerry “is very keyed in on that one issue.” She wants to ensure that Kerry also cares about Alaska’s economy and residents’ needs such as safe drinking water, sanitation, affordable energy and communications.

“The Arctic is a very real, living, breathing, dynamic place,” she said. “It’s not a place that is locked in ice.”

Robert Papp, the State Department’s special representative for the Arctic who is tasked with overseeing Arctic Council coordination, was also at the meeting, along with Kerry’s dog, Ben.