WASHINGTON (AP) _ A key aide to Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, has been hired as the staff director of a panel President Bush appointed to develop the administration’s energy policy.
Andrew Lundquist, Murkowski’s former chief of staff, has been staff director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which the Alaska senator chairs.
The appointment, announced Wednesday by Murkowski’s office, brings another strong voice onto the Bush task force for oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Murkowski has led Senate efforts to lift a ban on drilling in the refuge.
Bush and Cheney view development of oil and gas reserves in the refuge in northeastern Alaska as key to more domestic production, although such development is vehemently opposed by environmentalists.
The task force, formally called the National Energy Policy Development Group, consists of Cheney, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, Interior Secretary Gale Norton and the secretaries of Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation.