For two years, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, worked to reform America’s decade-old energy policy while increasing oil drilling in her home state (“Lisa Murkowski’s Alter Ego,” HCN, 10/12/15). Murkowski’s bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act — which tackled a slew of issues including grid modernization, energy efficiency and industry regulation — made it past committee in the fall of 2015 and headed for a vote in Congress.
On Dec. 9, 2016, Sen. Murkowski conceded that her bill had died. Despite passing in the Senate by an 85-12 vote, the bill was stopped by House Republicans who were waiting to control both Congress and the White House before revisiting energy policy. In late December, changes in Washington hit close to home for Murkowski: President Obama moved to protect most U.S. Arctic waters from offshore oil and gas leasing. Then, in January, Murkowski introduced legislation to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain to drilling. It was her ninth such attempt.