Following a day's worth of what were described as friendly and productive private meetings around town, Sen. Lisa Murkowski encountered a much chillier crowd at a town hall meeting last Thursday night in Dillingham.
To the full house packed inside the elementary school gym, Murkowski quipped, "Well I can see there's either nothing going on around town, or there's nothing more important."
For most of the more than 200 in attendance, the latter was true. They had come to tell Murkowski, "whose name we learned to spell four years ago," of their great concerns with Senate Bill 2156, which she co-sponsored. That bill, also known as the Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014, would "weaken the Clean Water Act," said Tom Tilden, a chief with the Curyung tribe.
"I plead with you to change your mind about cosponsoring this bill," he said over the crowd's applause. "Don't let your name be on that!"
The Regulatory Fairness Act of 2014 is sponsored by Louisiana Senator David Vitter, a Republican, and Senator Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat. Murkowski said Manchin's involvement was based on the EPA's "retroactive" veto of the Section 404 permits needed for the Spruce No. 1 coal mine in Logan County, West Virginia in 2011. That veto came four years after the permit was issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and has been upheld through several legal challenges.