Sen. Dan Sullivan

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, left, met with Secretary of Defense Austin Lloyd III, center, at Fort Wainwright Saturday, July 24, 2021, during the secretary’s stop in Fairbanks while en route to Asia. Courtesy Sen. Sullivan’s office

Sen. Dan Sullivan pushes for the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings on the U.S. military pullout from Afghanistan.

If it seems warmer in Alaska, there's data to back you up. Alaska leads other states in warming temperatures. And labor unions, which have support in the Last Frontier, are gaining  approval with more Americans.

There’s more in “Five Things to Know.”

Sen. Sullivan’s call for hearings

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is calling for hearings on the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Sullivan and Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama sent a letter to the committee chair asking that he use his authority to schedule hearings that would include testimony from military leaders.

Sullivan and Tuberville want to learn more about decision-making on the pullout from Afghanistan.

They are seeking testimony from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Commander of U.S. Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie, Jr., and the final Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Gen. A. Scott Miller.

“We owe it to our nation, those who served, their families, and our allies and partners who fought alongside us, to preserve the records of how our fight in Afghanistan concluded,” the senators wrote in a letter to Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the committee chair.

“The insights we gather will help prevent future loss of American blood and treasure, a solemn responsibility and sacred trust we believe all members of our committee will seek to uphold,” Sullivan and Tuberville said in the joint letter.

Eight GOP lawmakers who are members of the Senate Armed Services Committee also signed the letter.

“The American people, and in particular many of those who serve our country in uniform, are hurting, angry, and disappointed,” the senators wrote.

Alaska is heating up faster than other states

Alaska is among the top 10 states that have heated up the most in 20 years, Changing America reported. Most of the other states with the biggest increases in mean temperatures are on the East Coast.

They are New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Arizona and Maine.

Nationwide, the average temperature rose by 1.5°F.

The majority of the top 10 states experienced a 5% increase, but Alaska had a nearly 10% increase.

Alaska’s mean temperature was 26°F between 1901 and 2000 and more than 28°F between 2001 to 2021. Alaska is also the state where temperatures warmed up the most in winter, by 4.08°F.

Over 50 years, Alaska has warmed by about 2.5°F, compared to about 1.5°F for the Lower 48, NOAA reports. The winter and spring months have warmed the most.

Rising temperatures are attributed to climate change from greenhouse gas emissions.

Hilcorp to resume offshore oil drilling at Cook Inlet

Hilcorp Alaska’s 2021 plan of development for the North Trading Bay unit is moving forward, Petroleum News reported. North Trading Bay is a Cook Inlet field development.

Alaska Oil and Gas Division Director Tom Stokes approved the Hilcorp plan of development, Petroleum News reported.

In 2019, the division had terminated the unit for lack of “diligent operations to restore production,” Petroleum News said.

The new plan gives the company 16 months to identify drill targets. If drilling is successful, the company will return to production. The plan of development is approved for Oct. 15, 2021, through June 30, 2023.

Earnings from work dip in Alaska

Nearly all states posted gains in earnings from work in the first quarter of 2021 over the previous year. But Alaska was one of 10 exceptions, Pew Charitable Trusts reported.

Earnings fell in Alaska by 0.6%. Other states that experienced declines were:

• Hawaii, -6.8%

• Wyoming, -3.7%

• Nevada, -3.3%

• New Mexico, -3.2%

• New York, -2.3%

• Oklahoma, -2.2%

• North Dakota, -1.9%

• New Jersey, -0.9%, and

• Louisiana, -0.2%

Labor union approval peaks

Americans support labor unions more in 2021 than they have in the last 50 years, Gallup reports. Sixty-eight percent of Americans approve of labor unions, according to a new Gallup survey.

The approval rating for unions is the highest Gallup has measured since 1965. Results are from Gallup’s annual Work and Education poll, conducted Aug. 2-17, 2021.

Alaska has one of the highest union participation rates in the U.S. Alaska unions represent service contract workers, teachers, police officers, transit workers, plumbers and pipe fitters, tourism workers, oil and gas workers, and pipeline maintenance workers.

Since 1989, when comparable state data became available, union membership in Alaska has been above the U.S. average. Union members accounted for 17.7 percent of wage and salary workers in Alaska last year, compared with 17.1 percent in 2019, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Two states reported union membership rates over 20 percent in 2020. They were Hawaii, at 23.7%, and New York, at 22%.

Nationwide, union members represented 10.8% of employed wage and salary workers in 2020, up slightly from 2019.

Contact political reporter Linda F. Hersey at 459-7575 or lhersey@newsminer.com. Follow her at twitter.com/FDNMpolitics.