Trump Clashes With Senator, Jeopardizes Alaska’s Energy Future

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The Trump administration may be adding unnecessary roadblocks to its “energy dominance” agenda by targeting Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s vote to block an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill from moving forward.

The back and forth between Murkowski and administration officials could delay the confirmation of key agency appointees and funding for pro-energy policies, and possibly stymie key projects across Alaska.

Murkowski and Maine Republican Sen. Suzanne Collins joined Democrats on Tuesday in voting against a motion to allow the GOP health care bill to proceed.

The White House was not happy, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke put the pressure on Alaskan lawmakers.

Zinke called Murkowski and fellow Alaska Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan Tuesday afternoon to let them know that Murkowski’s “no” vote on a health care motion “had put Alaska’s future with the administration in jeopardy,” Alaska Dispatch News reported Thursday morning.

“I’m not going to go into the details, but I fear that the strong economic growth, pro-energy, pro-mining, pro-jobs and personnel from Alaska who are part of those policies are going to stop,” Sullivan told ADN.

Sullivan voted in favor of moving the ACA repeal bill forward, but the Trump administration probably wanted him to put pressure on Murkowski. Federal agencies control 61 percent of Alaskan lands, including those rich in energy and mineral deposits.

The Trump administration is also pushing forward with policies to open Arctic offshore areas to energy development and onshore development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A).

Zinke also ordered an updated energy resource assessments for the North Slope and the “1002” area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“We’re facing some difficult times and there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the policies that Secretary Zinke and the president have been talking about with regard to our economy. But the message was pretty clear,” Sullivan said.

The pressure didn’t end there, however. President Donald Trump singled out Murkowski in a Wednesday morning tweet, saying that she “really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday.”

Murkowski must have had enough, because later that say she delayed a committee hearing to confirm a Trump administration appointee. Murkowski chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The congresswoman also holds the purse strings for both those agencies.

Murkowski’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on why the hearing was delayed.

A committee spokesperson told NBC News Thursday’s hearing was delayed “due to uncertainty of the Senate schedule.”

Murkowski said she voted “no” Tuesday because she wanted any legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act to go through the committee process.

Vice President Mike Pence used his tie-breaking vote to push the bill forward, but it was defeated just hours later after it failed to get enough Republican votes.

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