Alaska spent time in national spotlight in 2017

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Alaska's eventful year in Politics started in the interior with the 10th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in May. Eight polar nations sent representatives to discuss growing concerns of environmental changes and how they affect the arctic.
Many saw the meeting as a positive exchange for the U-S, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressing climate change as a (quote) "Serious threat" (end quote) to the arctic; a sentiment that the Trump Administration had not yet expressed in the past.
Later on July 26th the vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act failed in the Senate by one vote.
Senator Dan Sullivan voted with his party to repeal the act, while Senator Lisa Murkowski chose to vote against the repeal. She said she thought a bipartisan committee should deal with changing the act.
Murkowski's vote evoked a response from President Trump.
On his personal twitter account, the Commander in Chief called out Murkowski, saying she let down Alaska and the rest of the country.
Whether there was in hostility between the Trump administration and Alaska's delegation, it didn't affect Alaskan officials being selected for multiple positions throughout this year:
On May 30th Steve Wackowski was named the Senior Advisor for Alaska in the Department of the Interior.
Chris Oliver was named the Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries on June 19th.
Drue Pearce was elected as a Deputy Administrator in the U-S Department of Transportation on August 7th.
On October 10th Chris Hladick was selected as the EPA Region 10 Administrator.
Joe Balash was named the Assistant Secretary of the interior in Land and Minerals Management on December 7th.
Tara Sweeney has been nominated as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, but she remains unconfirmed.
Alaska's members of Congress reaffirmed support of Puerto Rico. Representative Don Young joined Puerto Rican Governor Ricky Rossello in Washington on June 15th, with the two pushing for statehood for the territory.
Murkowski also voiced her support for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma.
After leading a congressional delegation visit to Puerto Rico in mid-November, Murkowski lobbied to replace Puerto Rico's electric grid, which she said was already antiquated before the storm; with a more resilient model.
Alaska's Washington delegation weren't the only ones busy during this year; Governor Bill Walker released a proposed agreement with the China-based company to fund a Liquefied Natural Gas Line. This was spurred on by a November trip Walker Took with the President to China. The proposed plan remains non-binding, but the proposal stands to save roughly a thousand dollars per household per year.
Other than the health care repeal, Alaska's Congress members have been united on multiple fronts. All three helped spearhead the 'King Cove Access Project;' an 11 mile road access to Cold Bay for medical evacuation.
The bill was passed in July in the House, moving the construction of the road one step closer to reality.
They all also showed unity by passing the national defense budget in November.
Included in the budget is $200 million dollars for missile defense improvements at Fort Greely. The President requested the improvements to Fort Greely in a letter to Congress, citing the growing threat of North Korea as the reason for added missile defenses.
Alaska's delegation's latest united vote has arguably been their most controversial: Earlier this month, Congress passed a sweeping tax bill.
One provision of the bill opens a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.
President Trump recently praised the three of them in the passage of the bill and invited them to address the nation about ANWR's development.
Despite touting the development as a great thing for Alaska, some Alaskans remain adamant that such an act would only hurt the last frontier.
One group that has been especially vocal is the Gwi'chin tribe.
With much new legislation in 2017 and both Walker and Young up for reelection next year, it will be interesting to see if Alaska will be as active in national politics in 2018 as it was this year.
This is Andrew Hawkins Reporting.