Murkowski aide leads energy issues section for Bush's transition team

Posted: Sunday, December 24, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A top aide to Sen. Frank Murkowski is leading the energy issues section for president-elect George W. Bush's transition team.

Andrew Lundquist, who was born and raised in Fairbanks, has been staff director for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee since 1998. Murkowski is chairman of the committee.

Lundquist is one of the transition team's 22 section leaders, who will act as liaisons between the new administration and federal agencies.

Lundquist worked for Sen. Ted Stevens from 1987 to 1995, when he moved briefly to the Energy Committee as counsel. He served as Murkowski's chief of staff from 1996 to 1998 before returning to the staff director's position on the committee.

Lundquist's presence is further evidence of the Alaska senator's influence in the new administration's energy policy. Murkowski filled in for Bush this summer for a June 14 address to the Energy Efficiency Forum, an industry group, at the National Press Club.

Murkowski and Bush started talking about energy issues roughly a year ago, according to David Garman, Murkowski's chief of staff. They share many of the same views, he said.

In recent weeks, several Murkowski aides have been writing draft policy papers, on their own time, for the Bush transition team, Garman said. Those papers will help form the briefing books that Bush nominees will use during confirmation, he said.

''It shouldn't be a surprise to see a melding of thought'' between the Bush campaign and Alaska's senator, Garman told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The most high-profile meld has been their agreement that the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge's coastal plain should be open to oil development. Over the past year, Murkowski pushed that idea at every opportunity despite having little chance of moving it past President Clinton's desk.

Nevertheless, he said, he pushed the issue to broaden understanding of its importance to U.S. energy policy. He believes developing ANWR oil could reduce both U.S. imports and short- and long-term oil prices, a contention disputed by environmental groups and some economists.

Robert Kennedy Jr., senior staff attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said at a news conference last week that the amount of oil in ANWR is ''trivial'' in the global scene and ''no one argues it will lower prices.''

''We have a much better place to get that oil. We have a much cheaper place to get that oil. And that is conservation,'' he said. The best oil fields to tap, he said, are those that lie in stricter fuel efficiency standards for cars.

Kennedy warned Bush against efforts to open ANWR.

''I can't think of a more overt act of declaring war on the environmental community,'' he said.

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