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Murkowski issues energy blueprint focusing on increased domestic energy production


From the February 11, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published February 11, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Feb. 4 issued a lengthy document meant to be a catalyst for energy bills in the 113th Congress. 

Among her recommendations is legislation to make sure that ratepayers' shares of the costs of large grid projects are "reasonably proportionate to measureable economic and reliability benefits" that these projects would provide to consumers.

The plan, called Energy 20/20: A Vision for America's Energy Future, is a "blueprint for discussion," rather than an actual energy plan, Murkowski said. She said she hopes the ideas in it will lead to individual bills and promised to work with the committee's chairman, Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon, to craft measures that can win bipartisan support.

The 120-page document makes some 200 policy recommendations. Among them are proposals—including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—to increase North American oil production by 4.6 million barrels, or enough to eliminate the amount of crude oil the United States currently imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

"A simple insight drives this, and it's three words," she said in a Feb. 4 speech to state utility regulators meeting last week in Washington, D.C. "Energy is good," she told the meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. "Would we not agree?"

Energy "enables every aspect of modern life," she said. "Too often, we forget this."

"Affordable energy is vital to our economic well-being, and a prudent balancing of energy production with proper standards for environmental regulation is more pressing than ever," Murkowski said in the blueprint. "There is no scarcity of energy resources in North America," she said. "The only scarcity is in our resolve to take full advantage of our continent's tremendous resource base—to produce more oil within our own borders, and to ensure that Canadian and Mexican exports are brought here whenever the opportunity arises. If we accomplish that, we can displace our OPEC imports by 2020."

The senator calls for speedy approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project and for reforming permitting processes for energy and infrastructure projects "to reduce uncertainty, delay, and excessive litigation, while still meeting environmental standards."

Other recommendations in the Energy 20/20 proposal include:
•   allowing master limited partnerships, which currently are used by the oil industry, to be used by developers of alternate energy sources such as biomass, biodiesel, hydro and other energy resources;
•   making changes to the Energy Department's loan guarantee program, including establishing risk profiles for projects seeking loan guarantees; and
•   revising licensing procedures used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to make it easier for new hydro power projects to be built.

Details about the Energy 20/20 document, including links to Murkowski's speeches introducing the plan, are posted on the senator's website.


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