Murkowski warns climate change 'directly impacting' Alaska

Murkowski warns climate change 'directly impacting' Alaska
© Stefani Reynolds

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (R-Alaska) on Tuesday said climate change is "directly impacting" her home state's way of life.

“It’s impacting subsistence. It’s impacting food security. It’s certainly impacting our economy with our fisheries,” Murkowski, the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said at the panel's first hearing this year devoted to climate change.

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“Clearly the effort here is to get a bipartisan conversation going,” she added. “I think that the rhetoric surrounding the issue of climate and climate change can be so heated and so animated and so, often times, just a very toxic discussion that you can’t get to focusing on the solutions.”

The Senate panel heard from experts on how climate change was impacting the electricity sector. Murkowski and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Senate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Labor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners MORE (W.Va.), highlighted their energy-producing states in their remarks, though.

Murkowski said her state is seeing diminishing sea ice and a change in wildlife migration patterns. And she expressed concerns that rural communities throughout her state aren’t using green energy.

“Many remote communities in Alaska are heavily reliant on expensive diesel fuel for heating and power,” she said. “Integrating cleaner energy technologies, often with a microgrid, can decrease reliance on diesel and provide greater reliability.”

Manchin said any efforts to address climate must not hurt states such as West Virginia, a major coal producer.

“The path to a climate solution must offer states like West Virginia opportunities, not additional economic burdens,” Manchin said.

“The solutions must be grounded in reality, which requires the recognition that fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon,” he added.

Manchin also pressed the experts to endorse an energy strategy that would include room for coal.

The senator asked experts why the U.S. should reduce its coal use when over 60 percent of China’s energy comes from coal and 70 percent of India's.

“They ain’t changing anytime quick,” Manchin said.