Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the senior senator from her state and the chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, wants her party to start talking about climate change. During an address to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Policy Summit, Murkowski even went so far as to urge Republicans to actually use the words “climate change.” “We have to not be afraid to use terms that some might say, that’s politically charged,” Murkowski said, according to Business Insider. “Why is it politically charged to say climate change? I see in my state the impact we have from warming temperatures.”

 

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In a political party which consistently denies or minimizes the impact of climate change, even saying those words is a step in the right direction. Still, actions speak louder than words. While Senator Murkowski garnered praise for her resistance to repealing the Affordable Care Act, she nonetheless has cast votes against the interests of public and environmental health in this current Congress. For example, Murkowski voted to confirm climate change denier Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator. Under Pruitt’s tenure, Obama-era environmental protection rules limiting air and water pollution as well as those designed to combat climate change have been eliminated. Murkowski also voted to open the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, a long-time goal for the senator and her party.

Related: Scientists protest senator’s plan to open vital Arctic wildlife refuge to oil exploration

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Murkowski has framed her support for fossil fuels as a necessary economic evil. “It’s not enough to demand the end of use of hard carbons to keep it in the ground,” said Murkowski. “I recognize this is unrealistic and counterproductive. It would hurt all of us, particularly the poor… We can absolutely continue to use hydrocarbons and critical minerals and protect the environment at the same time.” This seems to ignore that the renewable energy industry employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry while the consumer cost of renewable energy continues to decline. Murkowski’s position also fails to recognize the urgency of stopping the usage of fossil fuels if we are to avoid the worst of catastrophic climate change. Nonetheless, Murkowski’s words may offer some hope for a future Republican Party that understands climate change and seeks to counteract it. “This conversation is difficult,” noted Murkowski. “We all know it’s difficult. We have to stop making it harder.”

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Via Business Insider

Images via Arctic Circle (1) and Arctic Wolves