UPDATED: U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted in committee on Thursday against approving Rhea Suh to be assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Interior Department.
The Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where Murkowski is the ranking minority member, voted to approve Suh along party lines, 12-10. Suh’s nomination now heads to the Senate floor, where she needs 51 votes to be confirmed. U.S. Sen. Mark Begich’s office said that he would likely vote against her confirmation. Begich is up for relection. A vote for Suh would
likley be used against him by his Republican opponents. GOP candidate, Dan Sullivan, put out a release in February urging him to vote against Suh.
“Given his blind support for President Obama’s earlier Interior Department nominees, and his record of voting with the President 97 percent of the time, I won’t hold my breath,” Sullivan said.
If confirmed, Suh would head the Interior Department division that has decided against allowing a potentially life-saving road from King Cove to Cold Bay. Eleven miles of that road would cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The road has received much attention in the state recently, largely thanks to Murkowski.
Suh has also in the past been critical of oil and gas development. While working for an environmental foundation, Suh said in 2007 that “the pace and magnitude of this [natural gas] development is easily the single greatest threat to the ecological integrity of the West.”
However, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who chairs the committee, said that Suh has assured the committee that she would “absolutely support the responsible development of natural gas and other fossil fuels from our public lands.”
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