Murkowski spends last day in Washington

Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Sen. Frank Murkowski was wrapping up business in Washington D.C. Tuesday before he returns to Alaska to take the helm as governor.

Murkowski told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner he feels his 22 years in the Senate have been productive.

''I'm certainly going out of here very comfortable and satisfied with my contribution,'' he said.

Asked about his legacy during an interview last week, Murkowski said it would be hard to make a list. But he mentioned several items, including legislation that created the regional citizens advisory councils to oversee oil and gas operations in Prince William Sound and Cook Inlet following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, legislation that established the Arctic Research Commission and efforts to promote a gas line from the North Slope and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

''We've built a foundation,'' he said of ANWR. ''We built it up to the point where we got a presidential veto in 1995,'' referring to the year ANWR-opening language passed both the House and Senate but was killed by President Clinton.

Murkowski also recalled a personally moving experience-his 1986 visit to Vietnam. Following up on earlier inquiries, he asked the foreign minister to help reunite two children with their mother, a Fairbanks woman who had escaped from Vietnam in the late 1970s. When Murkowski returned to the foreign ministry the next day, the government presented him with the children and asked him to leave the country without delay.

Not entirely certain of their identities, he nevertheless brought the boy and girl back to Anchorage, where they were reunited with their mother.

Murkowski has yet to name his successor but he offered advice for that person. ''You want to come in here and be a good listener,'' he said. ''You don't want to hold strident positions and take hostages unless you're prepared to deal with the consequences of disposing of those hostages,'' he said, describing the pitfalls of threatening other senators' legislation.

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