U.S. Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, visited the Kenai Peninsula Saturday, appearing as keynote speaker at the Republican patriotic dinner, a fund-raising event hosted by the Kenai Peninsula Republican Women. The event was timed to coincide with the peninsula's Republican convention, held over the weekend in Kenai and Soldotna.
Murkowski, who had to hop a plane to Washington immediately after his remarks, told the group he was looking forward to fighting to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as get a deal done on a natural gas pipeline, as his final acts as a U.S. senator. Murkowski is giving up the Washington post this year in order to run for governor.
"It has to go. This energy bill has been up and up. Hopefully, we can get this (opening ANWR) done," he said.
"It's going to be a busy week."
Murkowski stated that one of his primary goals, if elected governor, would be to look out for future generations of Alaskans.
"We have to recognize that our greatest resource, our kids, are leaving this state. We feel compelled to work together to turn that around. Our mind-set has to be to grow the economy," he said.
Murkowski stressed that one of his key beliefs is that for the state's economy to grow, the nation must reduce its dependence on foreign oil. He cited the example of importing oil from Iraq as a key reason domestic oil exploration must be pursued.
"We have reason to believe Saddam Hussein is a threat. We buy his oil and at the same time enforce a no-fly zone over Iraq. What we basically do is take his oil and go bomb him. The terrible dilemma before the president is with our knowledge, what action, if any, should we take?" Murkowski said, adding that the key to dealing with the problem could lie in developing Alaska's oil resources.
"We think we can reduce our reliance on foreign oil," Murkowski said.
State Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Nikiski, was one of several local politicians in attendance at the fund-raiser. Ward said although Murkowski has been an effective voice in Washington for Alaska, he thought the senator was anxious to return to his home.
"I think that he truly wants to come home. I asked him why he's doing it, and he said, literally, he just wants to come home," Ward said.
Ward added he thought it would benefit Alaska to have Murkowski home from Washington.
"I think it would be an advantage. I don't believe any one person is not replaceable," Ward said.
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