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A Conversation with Senator Lisa Murkowski


So it might not seem like it but it's the middle of the day here in Beijing. The air is so polluted colluded that it's darkened the sky. Most of the progress towards the environment and saving it and getting rid of carbon etc has been done on a local level some schools the goal of love making energy bolt cheaper but also completely clean and so with the right innovation clean energy. It's actually cheaper than dirty energy energy. Solar has gained seventeen times the rate of our economy there two point six million jobs in our country and clean energy well energy aged the leave the oil market where we balanced second half this year but there are still questions about price Brent crude and we will Lisa Power of American energy including shale now loyal natural gas and leave. What we're going to do Fox is going to be so special? Hi and welcome to this edition of the charts. The podcast of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. I'm your host epic Executive Director Sam Maury in an era of divided government. There's been concern over Congress's ability to reach compromise and pass legislation with Democrats the majority in the House of Representatives and Republicans in control of the Senate and the White House. Progress has certainly been limited. Senator Lisa Murkowski a Republican representing Alaska as one of only five five women Republican senators and is considered by many to be a key leader for forging compromise in this environment. Senator Murkowski has time and again made headlines for key votes on everything from healthcare to climate policy. Also as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Murkowski sits at the forefront of crucial decisions around the future of energy environmental policy in the United States on issues ranging from the green new deal to oil and gas development on federal lands. Her work on a range of other areas offers a unique perspective on a wealth of key issues. That will frame the debates in two thousand twenty recently epic and be. If if I director Michael Greenstone sat down with Senator Murkowski for a broad conversation on a range of political and economic policy issues. Let's hear what she had to say. Good Morning On the behalf of the Becker Friedman Institute and the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago known campuses the BFI In epoch. Thanks thanks Thank you all for joining us today. For Conversation on issues facing the US economy and the environment with the United States. Senator Lisa Murkowski. My name is Ted Brent and the chief executive officer of Marathon capital and Becker Friedman Institute Advisory Council member BFI is a collaborative platform for the vast and diverse. I University of Chicago Economics community with almost three hundred. PhD Economist working on campus and even more scholars engaged in research relating to the economy having an institute that can bring our scholars together around. Common Research topics allows us to coordinate and leverage our work in a way that can have real impact. My firm is a Chicago Investment Bank which we believe is the largest bank in the US focused on renewable power and fuel markets? Most of you will know that that the US has spent much of the last fifteen years displacing older nuclear coal and gas power plants with hyper efficient new natural gas generation and new onshore Dr Wind and solar plants the US is clearly transitioning towards a much cleaner and greener future. What's not well understood? However is that even even with all that investment over the last fifteen years of the more than four trillion kilowatt hours of electricity used in two thousand eight just last year only only seventeen percent of the? US generation came from renewables. If one includes hydropower. I'm including hydropower as part of renewables if you exclude hydra apart power given that. There's an awful lot of environmentalists that don't like hydropower. Only about ten percent comes from renewable the zero coupon coupon nuclear fleet makes up another twenty percent of that generation so last year sixty three percent of all power generation utilize is fossil fuel with gas at about thirty five percent of that and Cold down to about twenty five percent. I'm an environmentalist and accept that human activity has had an effect on our climate but I'm also a renewable energy expert and believe it's simply infeasible to shift away from the use of fossil fuels especially the natural gas from almost which is almost free for at least a decade And maybe a little bit longer than that so I'm keenly interested in. Listen Sindhu our speaker today. Who Has the chairwoman of the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee must balance the various environmental concerns and proposals against the reality of fuelling fuelling transitioning a growing a twenty two trillion dollar economy? I'm truly honored to introduce our guest asked today. Lisa Murkowski Alaska senior. US Senator so third generation Alaskan born in Ketchikan A Ah Murkowski joined the. US Senate in two thousand and two. She is considered by many to be a key leader for forging compromise in his time and time again made headlines for key votes on everything from healthcare to climate policy as chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Senator Murkowski sits at the forefront of crucial decisions Asians on the future of energy and environmental policy in the United States including the green new deal and energy developments on federal lands and waters. She has been an important voice voice in the Republican Party. For recognizing the risks posed by climate change and for advancing advancing climate policies most notably federal investments in clean energy. Are Indeed her work on these. A range of other issues offers a unique perspective on several points that will frame political debates as we enter the twenty twenty elections. Senator Murkowski also serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee where she is the chairman of the Interior and environmental subcommittee. She's a member of the Senate Health Education Asian labor and Pensions Committee. The first Alaskan to serve on that panel and is also a senior member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee prior to appointment to the United State. Senate Senator Murkowski Practice Commercial Law in Anchorage and served three terms in the Alaska state of House of Representatives including time as the House majority leader. We're delighted delighted to have Senator Murkowski with us this morning and joining Senator Murkowski is our very own Michael Greenstone michaels. The Meat Milton Friedman distinguished service professor in the Kenneth C Griffin Department of Economics the college and the school the Director of the Energy Policy Institute of Chicago in the Director of the Becker Friedman Institute he previously served as Chief Economist for the White House Council of Economic Advisers where he co led the Development Altman of the United States government social cost of carbon. He was the forty dollar man michaels research. which has influenced stop policy? Globally is largely focused on uncovering the benefits and costs of environmental policy in societies energy choices. His current works focuses on testing innovative ways to increase energy access monetize damages from climate change and improving the efficiency of environmental regulations around the world with introductions out of the way is my sincere pleasure to turn the program over to Michael in Senator Murkowski. Thanks very much Ted and welcome Senator Murkowski into they were struggling so we got a lot OUGHTA students here when you were a student. Did you ever think you'd be sitting here. Maybe more importantly in the US Senate. And how did you get here now. And the fact that AH we're here in these icon chambers or whatever focusing on economics economics economics major by default just to give you some clue as to my personality. My first choice. I was going to be a teacher. Oh and I was at a sophomore at Willamette University in Oregon and had to take a mandatory econ course halfway through the semester. The professor calls me and says Lisa. You should drop my class or you're going to get a failing grade and it's just not GonNa look good on your record and I was so offended that he we had so little confidence in me in my abilities that I not only stayed in his class but I changed my major from education to Econ just to spite him. Aw I actually ran into him last year he he's retired but he had come out to a speech that I was giving out well and he's as you remember me I'm Russ beaten and I do. You realize how you changed my life so it's one of those where it wasn't my love for economics it was by. Oh my gosh. If you don't believe that I'm capable of this you got another thing coming dude anyway. Yeah Kirk many aspects of your Roy. Yeah and how. How did it go from college to politics? So I I had always been one who was involved and engaged in high school or in college and not necessarily early student government but just involved in matters and I was. I was a young lawyer practicing law. Couple kids really pretty good life mm-hmm and our Our representative who had been in office for fourteen years out that he was going to retire. So I was tapped to go around and recruit a candidate and it was one of those situations where you would call the obvious people in this. I can't why don't you do it and Nice. They can't I'm I'm got an ice practice. I've got a good situation with my husband and my kids and of course I can't anyway long story short They talked me into it. Even though it was my job to talk somebody else into it. I failed their got involved in the state legislature and served there for a period of time and then I came to the United States Senate in a very unorthodox and difficult way. If there's any way to get there the way to do it is not through nepotism. I actually use the word because it was my father who had been in office office for twenty. Two years was successful in his election to To serve as governor and under Alaska's laws at that time the governor was able to appoint into a vacancy he. He decided that I was the one that he wanted to select. And against my better judgment I accepted for that interim and then went on to stand for three subsequent elections and have been returned now now been in the Senate for seventeen years just say no. My Grandmother was on the Faculty here and my dad was on the faculty so not make me feel better already. Thank you and we're in the city of Chicago. There's many aspects of your electoral electoral career. That are totally fascinating. One that just sticks out twenty ten when you were running for reelection. I wonder if you could talk about that and I wonder actually if there were for shadows of that in your debates if you're economics professor could have been so twenty ten I was. I was up For election this would have been my my second full election. Volatile that goal period in the country. It was this was just as the tea party. Hardy was really gaining currency but in Alaska it it really had risen to a level that we felt. There should be some concern. I I had very strong approval ratings around the state. I raised the money that we needed to do to have a strong campaign rain but there was a tea party candidate who ran and suffice to say I I had not been viewed as quote the good Republican in terms of of following the party. Line on on some initiatives and so he was able to generate a strong showing on the conservative side and a host of other factors influenced that act that primary election Senator Stevens who was my mentor. was killed in an airplane accident. Ten days before the primary so I- suspended spended. My suspended my race until after the services for the family decision that I would make all over again out of respect for my a friend but as a consequence of many things I lost a primary primary where fourteen percent of Alaskans came out to vote and and when you lose a primary dunk basically and I was pleased with him. So that's defeat. We have lots of students here really holy if they're here. They've known zero defeat so far in their life but a lot is coming for most of them. Life doesn't come without Out Its series of defeats. And it's just a question of how big how small and in fairness losing an election is not the end of the world. You have most most of us have plenty more that we can offer but I was. I was prepared to to come back to Alaska that season ski pass and have a happy existence. One more time places so one thing when something bad happens try to get them. I'm to chant. What are you doing something goes wrong? We'll never try again. I will say one thing to take the opposite message. Never try again. Dow is not not my in my mind. That was not mind children. I didn't listen to your children. What I did is as I listened to Alaskans and what happened was a was a a truly a from the ground up effort to say? Wait a minute we want to Redo with this primary election. And there's onto many times that you can do a Redo do but there were so many Alaskans who said in this close primary system. I didn't have an opportunity to vote for you. I didn't have an opportunity to weigh and I don't like this and I was reminded by an old timer. Who was one of the ones who was pushing me very very very very much to to put my name out? There he said is the question was not should you. Should you run as a write in. He said we were going to write you in any way. The question was whether or not you would serve if you want and I said well yes if if you return in me I will serve but you need to understand. This is not possible. It hasn't been done since one thousand nine hundred fifty four withdrawn Thurman and Oh by the way my last name is Mark Hausky. It's nine letters long. Many of my constituents Alaskan Native Peoples English is not their first language. wjr How do you teach somebody how to participate in a right because when you go to the when you go to the ballot box and you get that the ballot. Here's Joe Miller Year Scott McAdams and here's a line with just an oval and if you spelled my name correctly which was what you were going to have to do. But you failed to fill in the oval. It didn't count so we had to do not only only a campaign that involved. Why do you like Lisa representing you in the Senate? But how do you complete about so. We hadn't jewelry reporting so we. We had the cheesy little rubber wrist bands. The live strong strong bands. The Masao what we did with ours. We had the little little bubble and then the correct spelling Lisa Murkowski ski and then fill it in right in because you had to fill it in and write it in and so we put these on the wrist bands. My husband took one of those wristbands. He had it made it into gold in. It's the one the piece of jewelry that I never leave home without it. Part of part of it simply because it's a reminder to me as to how I was returned I was returned to the United States Senate by Alaskans who said we don't want a representation to be defined by a party. We want our representation to be that individual that we believe can best represent represent us and so it was a very odd place my my colleagues in the Senate where in kind of a tough place because is there was a republican on the ballot. And then there was a blank line and if they're going to support the Republican Party where do they go with somebody that has worked with them for fourteen years or do they stand with their party. It was it was a very very difficult time. Berry empowering for Alaskans looked up a quote. Okay what did I say. Because the Republican in Committee I think supported the person who won the primary yes. I basically been written off by the Central Committee and I'm not going back begging and pleading my relationship leader stand on. They're on or not so. I want to have a almost unique role in the Senate these days on a wide variety of issues and I wonder if it's connected at all to that period. Well my colleagues will either support me or not and and they have. I'm chairman of the of the Energy Committee I was ranking member for six years. And I've been chairman for five so I didn't LE- lose that leadership Status Status my ranking. I'm I'm on the Interior Appropriations Committee as the chairman of that significant committee. I didn't lose my my standing there and I have. I guess I've developed a reputation and then in the Senate for being one that is we'll question will not necessarily ages line up with the party because everybody is lining up with the party. If it's the right thing for the state of Alaska I'll I'll be there but if it is not what don't don't count on me to be there just because this is a party line position that that gives give some of my colleagues some some heartburn but I think what they have learned. That's a polite way. I think what they have learned is that I truly really am a very Alaska. First lawmaker and I am unabashed with that the affordable care act several years ago There was there. Were a lot of different reasons behind behind the debates where I was on that by coming from and a very rural state with very high health care costs and very little overall access. Everything that my party was putting out there that would have that was an option to vote on. Didn't work in my state and so for me it. It was not political it was. I can't go home and tell people that it's going to cost you more and you're going to have less US access and so there. I think you build respect when the decisions sounds that you make on a policy basis are because you're driven by the desire to do what's right for the people that Saint Thank you there in the first place and and I can sleep well at night knowing undone that can we do a little bit deeper into the healthcare. Sure you've played a central role in that. I wonder if you could go back in time. Twenty nine thousand nine hundred Makovsky to two thousand nine and there is a debate about of Obamacare in the Senate. What would you say that the future is going to tell us? Oh you know. Given where we were in that debate back in o-9 and the fact that and this was significant major policy in an area that impacts every American rural and Bourbon and young and old. Everybody is impacted by healthcare and healthcare policy and knowing that we advanced that strictly along party lines lines you had to know that the divisions would continue. You had to know that there. There would have to be that point where we're going to have to come together. We have not done that yet. In fairness I'm on the help committee as well. Yeah and and I think that we're we're starting to make some incremental headway in health care policy in reducing the overall cost cost of care not what the ACA took us towards which was how do we how do we ensure that there is coverage coverage that is available for the care and so we're making some headway but in fairness the political headwinds are out there every time. When you try to make headway with reducing the cost of prescription drugs? You know you get the pharmaceutical companies that come in when you when you try to make some headway with with transparency in costs will then. You've got some concerns coming up from from your your hospitals spitaels from your from your providers. So there's still a lot of political headwinds but focusing on the cost of care itself because you think about it if you can get the cost of the product down that maybe the cost to cover. The product isn't as much so we're working on that but we still have far in two hundred obamacare adventure. Good one in hindsight. Is it a good one. I'm glad you didn't use the word fun because John is a relative term wasn't adventure I do think that Many more Alaskans into health. Insurance through Medicaid now Medicaid expansion in fairness significantly significantly benefited us us and particularly as we are seeing the same issues that you are. You're in the lower forty eight With regards to you too Levels of addiction behavioral health needs if we had not had medicaid expansion. I don't know where you would be right now And so for us again. When you think about those those things that we have done as as a consequence of the affordable care act making insure that those with pre existing conditions are are taken care of some of the things that we have put in place? I think we look back at and say that was good. That was strong. That was important and sometimes that's difficult for some of my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle to acknowledge that anything good it could have come from the ACA because the just so so strongly and vehemently against it as as an initiative. But I think you have to look to what what good has come out of it. If you spend all of your day thinking about how awful it is and how much I just so hated bit. How productive is that? Why can't we build off the things? We agree. Were good keep those and then address the other areas where we need where we need to be fixing it. You said something else. A minute ago that I thought was fascinating and I think people people have different views on this He said well part of the problem was that it was only passed by one party. Is that a problem or and I wanted to talk about it particularly particularly because a lot of your reputation and history lies trying to find bipartisan agreement. Thing if these bill tainted to become law and now it's let's do the economy's so bad it's not that it's so bad it's just that there there will be those that again will. We'll be unwilling to acknowledge that there was anything good came of it. So how do you build off of it. So particularly really big initiatives in my view must have bipartisan support in order to be enduring and whether it is in the healthcare space whether it is immigration whether it is energy in order for it to could be enduring you've got to have input from both sides you've got to have buy in from all corners of the country intrigue otherwise you just set yourself up to be at loggerheads going forward and that's not productive so I have. I have taken an approach to legislating. That says I want to process that is going to be open and transparent so even if you don't like the outcome even if you you voted voted against it. You can't complain about how we got there but I go out of my way to make sure that we can get bipartisan support for energy urgent measures in our interior appropriations bill. We moved that bill and this is this is an appropriations that has oversight of everything from the National Park Service to the B. I A to the Indian Health Service to the EPA. So you can. You can bet that you've got a host list of differing views on it. We moved it out of the Appropriations Committee. Thirty three zero with no amendments and it was not because I took all of my good ideas and I said I hope you all agree with them. It was because we said well you know what on and this one. We're just not going to be able to get the support. So can you work with doesn't stand down and we'll we'll work on it in another way last this February I guess it was no. It was early February. It was in the middle of the government shutdown thirty five day longest government shutdown ever when everybody in America thinks that Washington. DC is in such a state of dysfunction. That they can't do anything. What did the Energy Committee do? We passed out a package of of land and water conservation bills probably the most significant conservation land conservation package that we have seen in ten years. We pass it out of the Senate during a government shutdown. We pass it out. Eighty five to twelve eighty five to twelve and then we moved it over to the house. And as XIV said the house gets up in the morning to spit in the Senate coffee they they advanced it. We just look uncritically but they pass it out three hundred and sixty six to sixty three or something like that but it was because of the process that we had built it was a consensus based and whether it is Maria Cantwell coming from the state of Washington. Working with me on these issues where we and we say all right. You're not gonNA agree with me on this ten percent and I'm not gonNA agree with you on this ten percent but there is eighty percent in the middle that we as a committee can work on. What are we gonna you do? What are we going to do? And that's the approach that we have taken. Okay so bear with me here is like incoherent question right or maybe not my first but another one I should say So there's a couple things I want to pick up on and put them together into one big pot. The first is if you just go across the little walkway to walk over to here. There's like a bazillion. Great ideas sitting side Economics Department You only have to ask anyone in economic firm running. They'll give you all Brazilian and it seems like those ideas don't write into legislation all the time okay. So that's like a little sad bras. So what what about that on the one hand and to this. You know the way as you just described the way you run the committee. Uh looking for bipartisan solutions. And now the third factor in this climate change so one of I actually think most economists would think it's such a simple and boring problem We should just put a price on carbon and we should fund are indeed. So that's only one of the one billion ideas super easy should be done right away and then now I'm GonNa put the bipartisan Lens on it and yet like Republicans have very hard time seeing the problem describing the the problem in the same way. So what's going on. Why why our ideas not just plowing through congress? That's why we invited you here. Yeah this is maybe why I went into into politics instead of sticking with economics but not so this is this is probably one of the biggest challenges that we have in in in the Congress in from policymaking perspective is how you how you translate the good ideas ideas and how you implement into a policy and this is where it's it's hard to tell the person with the great idea that as good as your idea may be Ted that Michael also has some good ideas here and just maybe if we take your too good ideas and we mix them up a a little bit you might have to shave some of your stuff off and he might get more than you think he should but at the outcome we've either there built a better product a better idea or perhaps you're probably thinking well you shaved off part is really important and so it's not as good an idea but what it is is an idea that has gained enough support that we can now actually implement it that we can actually pass it into law and it is. It is a process that we call compromise. And it's something that unfortunately is being viewed by many as a negative part of a process that somehow or other if if you have to shave off and you get something a little bit more than I than. We both think you should get that you have. You've had to stand down on your principles. I think it comes down to an acknowledgement. That maybe just. Maybe I don't have a monopoly on all of the good ideas and that you too can have some some good ideas and together we can. We can build support so part part of it is the melting of good ideas but part of it is the political reality that all one hundred of us in the Senate come from in different places and I'm not talking about geographically but I'm talking about the backgrounds that we bring. I'm I'm a born and raised Alaskan. I'm an outdoor person. I like to hunt and I liked to fish and I come from a resource extraction state but I am a hiker and I am a person who likes the solitude of the wild I like to to. I'd I'd much rather watch the birds than actually bring home the bird for dinner. But I I bring that to to my my my job. My responsibility my representation and so recognizing nizing that my voice representing Alaskans is important but also the voice the voices of those who are representing letting the people of Illinois I. It's Durban is not right and I'm wrong or I'm wrong and he's he's right. It's a recognition that we represent different people from different areas. Who Need to how their voices is heard so how we allow those voices to be expressed and Meld them into legislation is a messy process? It is not something that is formulaic. And maybe that's the problem in being able to explain it to those of you here. Who are focused on economics? It is some. I'm sorry but it's it's hard. Okay well let me turn it back to you then Your founding member of the new bipartisan Klima Caucus in the Senate which I think it's got the nose or feature do one Republican one Democrat time to become under their two-by-two literally and I know there's a lot to be worked out but do you see the contours of bipartisanship around this issue? The fact that we are well broad broadly defined that we are establishing a bipartisan climate caucus in the Senate is a step unto itself. And I love the fact that that you sit here saying it's just so easy. We just know we know what needs to be done. So policymakers just do it. But so you know where I'm where where the Congress has been. It has been highly divided along party lines there. We've got it and ministration that came in with a very very closed door. You're to the discussion of climate and climate change and what that might mean and so two to even be using the words out loud for some of my colleagues is is extraordinary. Now I come from Alaska I see it every every day so for for us in Alaska. Climate change is not some theoretical exercise. It's not something that is discussed in the abstract abstract. We see it as we're seeing the oceans warm as we're seeing the sea ice recede the impact to the to the Walrus Hunter. WHO has to has to go thirty five miles offshore instead of twelve miles offshore? We're seeing fish species that are are moving from one region to another. We're seeing the the Moose move because the browse has has gone further north and that has shifted food patterns and Food Security for many in Alaska. It is it is very basic needs. That are tied to understanding a land and water that is changing and so it's everything from communities that are in peril because of the erosion to their coastline and and the need to evacuate a village to move village. We're in the process of that as we speak two weeks ago we had the first. Who Does it? Do Ho Ho right now. Nobody is a little bit of everybody and nobody owns it. And yet the community that I was just in in September moving nine miles else from from the coastal fringe up to higher ground They're they're halfway moved now. But it's been a process that has been it's been seventeen years in the making my very first legislation that got signed into law was a conveyance that allowed this village back to be able to move to another area and to to put their area into two refuge. So I've been working on this for a long time fine but it's expensive to move a village in Alaska and these are communities that are three hundred fifty people some would say that these three hundred and fifty people just need to move to the city and be done with it but when you appreciate that these are people who have lived in this place in this region for thousands of years for whom the identity to the land is everything the idea the That we would just say you're on your own is not where I'm going to be. I'm going to be there to work with them. So we work with the military to to utilize this as a training opportunity for them to help build a landing barge we we we are working with the federal the government the state government the tribal governments. But it is hard so I think in part of that is an. I didn't know much about the Alaska part. But if you look along the Atlantic that coast with sea level rise. I suspect that some day not too distant future. There's going to have to be like super painful. Oh conversations about what we're going to protect that one but we're not going to protect that one and Alaska I guess is really on the leading edge here in the front lines and you know you're starting to see that in other parts of the country where basically it's not it's not government coming in and saying that's good that's bad it's the the insurance company. So they're they're looking at saying you know what you want to. You want to have that Nice. That Nice House sitting there on the beach there in North Carolina where we've seen gene series after series of severe storms or hurricanes smack in u Insurance isn't going to be available to you and so you you think about you. Think about those types of forces that come at you but but Alaska definitely is is at the the the the tip of the spear in in many ways to get elected every six years. I'll ask Seem to be doing that. And so there's these forces. Climate change is happening. It's affecting people's lives and then you said it's like a resource it's based economy. How do you find some space in between those two views because in many ways? That's kind of like what's going on the whole country and again Alaska's yeah. We're we're kind of this little microcosm here one half of it. That's the beauty of of representing an extraordinary place as like Alaskan. I'm challenged every day and I loved that I love that part of it because it is heart and it is a challenge. And it's how we find this balance and that balance it is is is so important. I'm sorry I keeping her one more thing or my uncle in law was a former senator from Arkansas and he had on his desk facing out to assign when people came in his office. which is Arkansas comes first? So in addition to describing how you're going to on navigate these two four cents at Alaska. Can you talk about how you balance that against whatever the national answers are so I should and get twenty minutes answer but I should get that sign for my desk to although I think people know that I feel pretty strongly about that we are a state where seven hundred twenty thousand people. When we came into the union just shy of sixty years ago it was made very clear? Look you're never gonNA have enough people to support yourself from a permit from a tax base perspective it's your resources that will sustain you and that is is the story that was the story at statehood. That's is a story that continues today. Believe it or not. We're a state where eighty five percent of our state's budget comes from one place lace eighty. Five percent of our state's budget comes from oil so when the price of oil is down when production is down what happens to our state in terms of of the Treasury had we pay for public safety roads and and the like so if we want to be that state that has resources to help whether it is moving villages whether it is getting our state off. Aw of off of diesel I think about that you think about Alaska and you think okay what I know about it is you got you got oil up on the north but you. You've you've got this sixty five billion dollars in the bank as part of your permanent fund so it must be a pretty nice place and oh by the way I also heard that you give everybody an annual dividend from that. That's all true but what we what we what we don't have been one is is is communities that are connected by grid so so we literally don't have a road grid. We've got a highway that goes from from seward to fairbanks and then down and we don't have electric grids so to speak. We've got one rail belt line and after that everybody is on their own. And think about what that means when everybody's on your own in southeast where it's a rainforest you've got a hydro which is your energy but you're limited within your ability to provide for transmission line so you've got all these island did Energy Reggie Systems and the rest of the state you just are not connected so no road no electric let me give you a little factoid. Here over eighty percent of the communities in the state of Alaska are not connected by a road. Think what that means. How do you get stuff off? How do you get your food? How do you get your building materials? How do you move around? It's crazy expensive and then you put on that that the fact that in so many of these communities they continue to be powered by diesel generation. And so you say oh well you get your diesel missile from your the North Slope. Well we don't we send that down a pipeline. We send that down south to be refined them they send it back to us and then we have to put it on a barge or an airplane to get to us so you get out to the village on the Yukon River and you're paying eight nine ten dollars a gallon to keep warm arm in a cold place so what we're trying to do. Necessity is the mother of invention and we got a lot of mothers inventing extraordinary do things because we have to because we are so high cost in a cold place where you need to keep warm. And so we're pioneering with with micro grids we are. We're doing more in Alaska because we have to and we're doing it with a little bit of Ingenuity Luethi. Maybe a couple of wind turbines bring in some solar panels get a little river turban gun energy storage by literally literally Chevy Volt batteries. That are stacked up on Costco Racks. But we've got. We've got imagination that is going on. That is being viewed you not only by the experts in our national labs around the country but people around the world that are looking to Alaska because for us. We're going to have to figure out how we reduce our emissions kind of on our own because it's not like we can we can. We can deal with it through the utilities because it's really that's limited in terms of its scope job so we're doing a lot of pioneering that people don't know about we're okay with that we'll share with you when when when you're ready but but you ask about about the balance and how we balance Alaska's interest with the national interest. I I get it I take it back to in order for us to be able to make this transition to to clean energy. We gotta have. We have to have the resources to be able to fund it. Because we know we're not going to be getting that much from from the federal government to assist because again we're small scale where small we're small in the total scheme of things. So how we balance that continues to be a challenge Allen Jr but how we push those who are accessing these these fossil resources to do it in a manner that is not not only more clean but really reducing that overall environmental footprint. We've got we've got to push to make sure the word that is a significant part of the equation as well terrific now. I you know this better than I do. But of course carbon bracing does create all kinds of new revenues. That can help grease the wheels. But that's one piece of the puzzle energy. Okay now. My thirteen year old daughter would be very very upset. If I didn't ask the following question she is. I think I think it's starting to melt away slowly but still it is true that she's one hundred percent convinced That boys certainly myself certainly son or an inferior species and twenty five women in the US Senate not not now two hundred fifty right now in fifty. So how'd Senate be different if there were more women and what should men learn from women and well. It's totally you're asking this towards the end because we could have taken up the whole conversation. I I am a firm believer that women by their very nature. Bring a level of collaboration that I think is important to any process says and I am a big advocate to try to encourage more women in all levels of of a public policy and we. We're we're kind of high fiving ourselves that we've gotten to two twenty five. When I came? We were at eleven so we have made some some progress. But I find it just astonishing that when we look to other countries in terms of their parents and their structure. We're telling them you you need to make sure that you've got basically a fifty fifty split in in in your form of government with women to men and yet we have have been just not looking at ourselves in terms of how women are are engaged aged in the policy. So I I will share with you that the women do things not in a monolithic. Nick manner it's not like okay because we're women a women we all vote the same way on this. It's crazy but what we do try to do that. I think is healthy. Is it tried to build those personal relationships so about every six weeks the women are the Senate get together. Somebody agrees to host Sometimes it'll be at the member's house there in DC or if they don't have a very very big house enough for fifteen or twenty of says you know we will do it in a in. Somebody's office or or in a restaurant and we gathered together. And there's three rules. No staff off notes no leaks. We're just there to share one another's company and sometimes it's just having a glass of wine and complaining whining about you. Know who's running the show and I gosh. I can't believe they're doing this. And other times we talk about our kids. Our family relationships. Some stresses of the job and other times we talk about some very significant issues of the day and what we might be able to do to help influence that outcome. But what what we try to do is remind one another that we're in positions Of Great Responsibility and and that responsibility is is challenging and heart and that even though we we may be Republicans and Democrats from different parts of the country we we can share in some of the burdens and support one another and and so when we do have those splits and those differences we respect where the other is coming from. I'm good at that. I don't know that they're less good at that. But I'll tell you I'll use my example of fishing shing. I love to fish and As a consequence I get invited to go fishing a fair amount and when when I am in a fishing boat with four gentlemen I can guarantee you. They've got a list list of of initiatives that they want to make sure that we've had an opportunity to discuss. So they've they've done their business. I get in a fishing boat with women for other women and we will. We'll talk about everything under the sun and then as where we're going into the doc it's like. Oh Hey I do need to let you know. I really need your help on on this initiative that you work in so can you look at that legislation. Like yeah gotTA check the box and but we let ourselves have a have a life. I'm ensure that man do that to a secret I guess. Ask Your daughter is a particularly advice to offer to students here who might WANNA become enter politics women in particular men or women. I'm always asked. Is there some background that I should have. Should I be studying political science. What should I be focusing dissing on and I enjoy? Enjoy your your undergraduate. Your your most people don't enjoy their graduate career but but but stay focused. They learn a lot. Yeah they get great value here at the University of Chicago to AH focus on your on your passion on what drives you and and where you feel very challenged and and that will set you up for as much as anything so you don't need to have that degree necessarily in in one certain thing but you need to be passionate Ashen it about some things and that passion will allow you to achieve levels of leadership that others then look to and say you would be a good person to serve in the legislature. You would be a good person to serve at that council level will but the best advice I can give is. Do not wait until it's convenient because there will never be a time in your life where it will be convenient to be a public servant. There will always be something. I've got to focus on my education. I have have to focus on my family. I have to focus on my retirement. I have to focus on making more money or I have to focus on relaxing more. There will never be a perfect time and so when you're waiting for the perfect time it's not going to happen and so you have to to know that you are ready to serve oftentimes without a great deal of of public accolades coming coming your way. And you're good with that because you want to give back at a level so don't wait for the perfect time now. I would be remiss not to point out that the president of our country is speaking. I think maybe right now three miles away from here and uh-huh maybe it's four miles and obviously if you turn on TV. He seems to be very effective remaining on the TV. I wonder if you could just talk briefly. Has He changed the Republican Party in a enduring way enduring are endearing. I am GonNa let you answer however you want. I'm interested in both so I I I look at the time time in place that we are at right now and I don't like it. I don't like that that we are as politically polarized as we are. I don't think that that's good for the country and And I sense that. I don't like that more and more for people who are not policymakers or politicians are identifying themselves. As is you know my name is Karen. And I'm a Republican are now my name is Michael. I'm a Democrat. We did we get to that point. I mean if you're you're if you're in politics you know that that's an identifier that comes but that we are lining ourselves up this way. I I don't I don't like that part of of of how we have become divided and I particularly don't like the way we're talking to one another about one another and and and this is where I have We have a president that in my view on some of the policies policies that that he has advanced they've been very important to my state and we have seen some direct benefit but I I have to challenge him on on some of the ways in which he communicates in ways that I think are counterproductive to to debate to respect and to civility. And so this is. It's challenging for me right now and I think it's challenging for all of us when when we have have a leader of president that is operating in what some would say Zaveri on our Unorthodox I think he he. He likes the fact that he's Unorthodox and I think that you can challenge the status quo. I think you can shake things up but I think that there are ways that you do it in that are respectful and civil and I know I sound a little bit like somebody's mother other in saying that but I I feel that we are becoming less civil as a society and I think that leadership in setting the tone really matters and I think that that has impacted our party right now. Okay so we have a bunch of questions. But I can't resist asking one more question things that most people you're probably never been to Alaska. What people do when they go? Oh well I can probably a three hundred but you had to choose three three things that they should do. I you should know that wherever it is that you go in Alaska. I do not assume that you have now seen the state of Alaska right little bit of a lesson here in Texas right two and a half times bigger bigger than Texas. Alright one fifth the size of the United States of America so when you superimpose Alaska over the lower forty-eight we go from. I'm from Florida to California from from the from the Gulf up to the Canadian border. So that would be like you saying well I I went to Alaska but I really only went to Minneapolis. And then I understand California. You don't okay so in fairness most alaskans have never never been to most parts of the state so I want you. Here's the second thing you need to know. Every one of you carries a map of Alaska with you. I do this with all the the elementary three students. So you just take your hand and you Kinda hold it up like this. This is a state of Alaska. Here's the southeastern panhandle. Here's anchorage here's the Aleutian chain rain. Here's the north slope up here and your wrist is Canada. Okay that's Alaska so if you want to know where to go to fish this is where you want to go to fish this. Is it you expensive to get out to the the oil fields up here. This is where we mined for gold. This is where all the population is. This is your electric grid and your road system right right there. Everything else is wide open space. So that's two things you need to know. Don't assume that you know where you're going and always carry your map with you. And we were talking about the whistle so in addition degrade land great people we also so have extraordinary wildlife and Michael and I were talking earlier. they went on a trip. Should I tell you they go on a trip to Alaska and they go to go to the outfitter to get all ready. And they sell them whistles. They're telling everybody you know where we're ready to go out on our hiking adventure. Sure we got this that and the other thing and we got the whistle. Yeah because that's how we know the difference between a local and a tourist if tourist gets et by a bear. The whistle is in in a bear scat so he says true story true story. But you've I I think just know that Alaska is an extraordinary place. We're thinking about this. I mentioned that we're a state that has been built on our on our resource. What what what God Mother Nature has has provided us and I think sometimes we get accused unfairly of of just wanting to rape pillage and ruin our own state far far far far from that? We are the ultimate conservationists. We are the ultimate. We Wanna live in this place because because we want to go. Hiking every day or fishing or skiing backpacking or just being out in this extraordinary Landon Indanan these extraordinary waters. There is no there is no no desire to to spoil the environment for the sake sake of a resource and so how we achieve that balance is the ultimate tension the ultimate tension. And we think that we're doing a pretty good job. Yeah but we keep on it every day. Okay so we have some questions audience Andrew Yang has proposed universal basic income. Alaska has it should Andrew Yang and Democratic voters learned from Alaska's experiences. Most people might not actually know about right so so let me share with you. I mentioned a little bit ago. That in Alaska we have taken our oil wealth. Invested it invested in in the market We generate returns on that our permanent find itself is about a sixty five billion dollar fund but spun off from that on an annual basis. Dividends sounds that are based on the rate of return over a five-year average as a payout to Alaskans. So for instance this year the average dividend was sixteen hundred dollars and that goes to every man woman and child who is a resident of the state. I can tell you that that is and that's one month of of home heating fuel in the town that I went to high school and in Fairbanks Air Banks. If you're if you've got a group in a family of six kids so you have a little bit Bigger House that Permanent Fund dividend goes to help offset for many many families. Some basic needs because the cost of living is as high as it is there if I were to to provide advice On that one thing that I will tell you. Is that when you do provide for that dividend as we have seen in Alaska There is a how do I WANNA say this. The demand is that every year. I'm going to be getting more than I got last year. And I look at the dividend and and say this this this is an extraordinary way of sharing Commonwealth throughout a state. But it's not something that you should take for granted. Oil is a finite resource. More and and more people are coming to our state. We want more. We want broadband throughout the entire state. We want to have a physics. The teacher up in Vick. We want to have the ability for basic services. And so this this desire for more and more every year is something that I think is a is a human tendency so I think he's going to have to figure out how he's going to deal with that all right. What should the Department here do about methane leaks from natural gas drilling on federal? Well this is an issue and I and and when you think about it from the business perspective if you are if you are the owner of the operator of the pipeline or or the owner of the resource every have every bit of that that is leaked out is money escaping into the air so it only makes sense that you would want to do everything you can to reduce and or eliminate eight that so pipeline modernization is something that in my view. We all should be supporting. Because those those who say well we don't need any more pipelines and we don't. We don't want this permit to go through for for an upgrade because we don't like the the resource itself that resource is going to continue to be moving through but it's going to be moving through less efficiently and with greater environmental or mental impacts so at a bare minimum. Can we at least agree that that we need to provide for upgrades to that resource. The the issue of of methane leaks is one the flaring aspect of of what we do. We know that the releases that we see okay from from From flaring on our natural gas fields is something that again is in the best interests of the owner operator to to be reducing that absolutely and and. I think that we can do more now. This says inside academia one. But I suspect you know about it Can you come in on the recent to funding of yours. Alaska fairbanks whoever wrote this notes. That Alaska Fairbanks was deeply important university of US scientific research Particularly around Arctic Studies in faculty are already applying applying for jobs and dispersing chart. I don't actually much about this and I appreciate whoever whoever offered that. I mentioned that that we're seeing lower price of oil production. which has if your state is eighty? Five percent of your state's budget comes from oil. You're going to see an impact to your budget. So we have a governor who came into office last November and he had made a pledge a commitment that he was going to to not only keep the full amount of the dividend but also make sure that anything that it was less than a full dividend was rebates to people well at the same time balancing the budget so that's a really hard dynamic. So when he came out with his budget the University of Alaska System was hit with a forty percent reduction in one year. Think about what that would mean to a year and the University of Chicago. If you're told that next year you've got a forty percent reduction. It was mind blowing and in my view it was it was something that could not could not could not move forward long story short. The governor did pull back on much of is. He's made arrangement with the university board of regents to reduce the budget. It'll be twenty three percent reduction over three years but it's still an extraordinary hit to our university we have. We have a university system that not surprisingly has developed a level of expertise when it comes to the Arctic. Should not be a surprise to anyone because we are the university that comes from a state that is in the Arctic and so whether it is the institute eight of geophysics all of the Arctic efforts that are underway. This is not only value to Alaska but to the country. As as we're trying to better understand these these impacts on our on our broader climate it is critically important into all of the other Arctic nations. We are sharing our our our learned research about what we're seeing and when it's coming Dan how it's presenting itself so I am a big advocate for insuring that our university system remains remains strong and is resource so I appreciate the question for whomever because obviously there's nothing more important to spend money on them universities. No you're not spending money on universities. You're spending money on these bright minds that you are then putting out to an extraordinarily economy. Okay so here's a good question man with Do you have a vision of a global climate initiative that could somehow encourage India and China and in today's developing countries to participate since it is global climate change and emissions from there to the same thing as Emissions from Chicago for those who say well we can't do anything policy wise on climate change until India and China step up. That's yes that's a defeatist attitude in my view. The way that you get China and India to participate is you show that leadership and you show the leadership through the efforts that you're doing to reduce emissions and the United States does have a good story to tell here in terms of what we have done with our air quality what we have done to reduce our emissions. But you don't just sit back and say okay. We did our thing now. It's your return to do your thing and then we'll step up after that. None of this has got to be everybody working together and then sharing it it. I know that sometimes we we say well. We're going to develop hours here and keep all the best ideas here. I understand full. Well how we want to lead but we can lead in different areas. I have a Strategic Energy Initiative that we've just launched in the Energy Committee that you're saying okay. Look those those countries that want the clean energy source that comes from advanced nuclear. Why shouldn't we be using our expertise in this area to help? Why shouldn't we be able to compete against the state owned entities from Russia and China China? Right now are the participants in this area through our through the expert Impact Import Bank. Why can't we be helping to facilitate at a at another level and in another space so it's the technologies it's the leadership it is it is it is not only demonstrating through action but then partnering and and Making Those Commandments? I'm I'm on a panel. I was asked to be part of the the International Energy Association. I E as Global Bowl urgency energy efficiency committee as long title. They could they could be more efficient if they they they figured it out but it is. It is an international group that is focused specifically to efficiency. And you know you think NCA- about it what is what is sexy. An interesting about changing out your light bulbs not really. It's not nearly as cool as talking about something. That's going on with advanced nuclear what we're doing with energy storage and carbon capture utilization. But it's such such low hanging fruit and we had been. We had been going like this in terms of the advances that we've made on energy efficiency and now aw we've started to stall out. Why are we started to stall out well because we got kind of comfortable in our spaces again so the you ask for it for a vision we need to be leading in this space? The rest of the world expects us to lead in this space. Ace we have enjoyed the benefits of strong economy because we lead with our with our energy and our innovation. Let's let's work with the rest of the world to share just that very much. You're welcome here anytime. Thanks come back. Thanks for listening. Make sure to subscribe grabbed off the charts wherever you get your podcasts. Including on epic's website epic dot EU Chicago Dot. Edu

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