Energy & Environment

Higher energy costs don’t reduce dependence

Higher energy costs don't reduce dependence

The solution to energy dependence is not using less energy, increasing its price or limiting one’s choices to heat homes or power transportation, says Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Nor will it be achieved through new government regulations, mandates or higher taxes.

“We have found ourselves in a bit of a rut, policy-wise,” Murkowski said. “A choice between sweeping mandates, unprecedented spending, burdensome regulations—or all of those all at once—is not much of a choice at all.”

Murkowski’s comments came during a speech last week to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ annual meeting in Washington, where she unveiled the Republican blueprint for the panel’s oversight and legislative goals in the new congressional session titled “Energy 20/20, A Vision for America’s Energy Future.”

The exhaustive 120-page plan outlines 200 policy recommendations to produce more fossil fuel and clean energy technology, improve delivery and infrastructure, ensure environmental responsibility and find a way to pay for it.

“These are concrete proposals,” Murkowski said. “We want to try and change the conversation.”

Key to energy security is the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline project to increase domestic oil production, and cement a partnership with Canada and Mexico to ensure those oil exports are brought into the United States, the plan says.

Not surprisingly, the blueprint supports the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the senator’s home state for oil and gas development.

Revenue sharing system

Offshore energy resources should be further developed and the fees paid for by commercial enterprises distributed to the coastal states in a revenue sharing system.

“Think about some of the trends we’re already seeing,” Murkowski said. “For decades, our energy policies have been crafted on the premise of increasing scarcity, yet today we have increasing supply. Instead of absence, we find ourselves on the verge of abundance. There may never have been a time when we have had more potential for energy abundance. There may never have been a time when we have had more potential for energy production.”

Climate change should be addressed by funding basic research, lowering the cost of financing for promising new technology, and reducing regulatory burdens to move products quickly into the marketplace, Murkowski said.

“As we rethink our nation’s energy policy, it is also important to face questions about the inherent risks of energy and resource development, including questions about climate change. We must discuss these questions openly and find common ground on prudent steps to take in the face of uncertainty,” Murkowski said.

At a Capitol Hill news conference following her speech, Murkowski said the blueprint does not include “cap and trade,” a scheme to cap emissions then let companies buy and sell allowances for how much pollution each emits. Nor does the paper support carbon taxes, which Murkowski said would only increase the consumer’s cost of energy.

The blueprint does support the continued use of coal, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear power and suggests solar and wind power could be more cost effective if the energy storage capabilities were further researched and developed.

“No energy policy will ever be a perfect vision,” Murkowski said. “But with the year 2020 fast approaching, I believe it is time to re-evaluate the policies we have in place—to think about what can and should come next—and to set realistic goals that we can achieve by the end of this decade.”

“We have made considerable gains in terms of our own energy independence,” Murkowski said at the news conference. “It’s not just a slogan.”

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