Monday, February 04, 2013

Senator Murkowski Releases Energy Vision 20/20 Blueprint

Feb 4: U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member on the Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) released her energy blueprint – Energy 20/20: A Vision for American's Energy Future. In a speech before the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), Sen. Murkowski said, "I believe there must be a new conversation -- a better conversation -- and I intend to start it today. New technologies are emerging, changing the facts as so many thought they knew them, and our nation's energy discourse is not keeping up. It is time, despite some vastly different perspectives, to come together to address crucial and difficult issues." She continued saying:

"I'd ask you to think about some of the trends we're already seeing. 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 production – or for energy productivity. We can bring more energy to market, and we can also use that energy more wisely than ever before. . .

On paper and in words, most of us agree that an 'all of the above' energy policy is the best path. Yet our discussions of such a policy are anything but consistent. And in the absence of a proper balance between energy production and environmental regulation, our nation is too often hamstrung by burdensome regulations, delayed permits, and overzealous litigation.

"Energy 20/20 presents my vision for how we can move forward -- and we are officially releasing it today. . . The report features about 200 policy recommendations under seven headings: producing more; consuming less; clean energy technology; energy delivery infrastructure; effective government; environmental responsibility; and, 'an energy policy that pays for itself.' Call it a conversation starter. . .

"At the start of our report, we declare five principles: it is in our national interest to make energy abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure. . . Within our report, we've set a number of important goals, generally centered around the year 2020. We can be fully energy independent from OPEC. We can diversify the use of coal and accelerate the commercialization of today's unconventional and alternative fuels. We can ensure renewable energy becomes more competitive and re-establish our supply chain for critical minerals. We can modernize our electricity infrastructure and protect ourselves from cyber threats. We can ensure that research, not endless regulation, is the force behind technological innovation. We can reform our environmental laws in a sensible manner that prevents their misuse and allows projects to proceed – while still maintaining some of the highest environmental standards in the world. . .

"And perhaps the best part, to me, is that none of this will require burdensome mandates or heavy-handed regulations. None of this need rely on tax hikes or limitations on consumer choice. We can take a long look at existing policies -- reform them -- and wind up in a far better place in a relatively short period of time. . ."

    A fact sheet provided by Senator Murkowski indicates the following "Representative Policy Ideas From Energy 20/20":

  • Increase domestic oil and natural gas production and partner with Canada and Mexico to ensure their oil exports are brought to our country. This should begin immediately with the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
  • Reform permitting processes and review decisions for energy, natural resources, and infrastructure projects to reduce uncertainty, delay, and excessive litigation, while still meeting environmental standards; fast track projects of national importance; and defer to state agencies when possible.
  • Redefine clean energy as "less intensive in global lifecycle impacts on human health and the environment than its likeliest alternative." Implement this definition across all programs and policies.
  • Use the increased revenues that result from measures advocated in Energy 20/20 to create an Advanced Energy Trust Fund for clean energy research and to pay down the national debt.
  • Define hydropower as a renewable resource across all federal programs and initiatives.
  • Eliminate dependency on traditional government subsidies, supporting instead clean energy finance mechanisms that are technology-neutral, cost-effective, and conducive to private investment.
  • Upgrade energy delivery infrastructure, including pipelines and transmission lines.
  • Develop more of our offshore resources and provide revenue sharing for coastal producing states.
  • Open the coastal plain of ANWR, as authorized by law, to oil and gas development and ensure the federal government promotes the maximum responsible production in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
  • Address climate change by funding basic research, lowering the cost of financing for especially promising technologies, providing prudent and temporary subsidies that are fully offset, and reducing regulatory burdens for deployment.
  • Diversify coal use, facilitate exports, and reform regulations that inhibit improvements in the environmental performance of power plants.
  • Encourage and accelerate efforts to make oil shale and methane hydrates commercially viable.
  • Make solar and wind power more cost-effective by increasing R&D of energy storage technologies.
  • Expand nuclear power and support for new technologies, including Small Modular Reactors, and resolve the pressing back-end issues of the fuel cycle.
  • Promote a comprehensive energy efficiency approach by making financing accessible for efficiency retrofits, both in the federal space and private markets, and pursuing integrated efficiency systems, without creating any mandates, all while pursuing efficiency per unit of GDP rather than less energy production.
  • Reform the Vehicle Technologies Program to focus on a technology-neutral suite of pre-commercial research, and eliminate the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program.
  • Reform the Renewable Fuels Standard and the Department of Energy's Loan Guarantee Program.
  • Focus federal research and development on basic and applied research with demonstrations of advanced technologies, and continue to fund ARPA-E.
    On the specific subject of climate change, Sen. Murkowski indicates in part in her report, "Predictions rely on computer models, which depend on the accuracy of the data on which they are built and the assumptions of the models. The variables of climate change are far more complex than those used in models predicting commodity prices, natural disasters, or housing market risks, and computer models have been dramatically wrong on all of these and other issues. This does not mean that models are not extraordinarily valuable tools, but rather that it is reasonable to view predictions of complex matters, such as how climate
change will impact our world, with caution. . .
    "Because climate change is a global concern, however, if we pursue burdensome and costly legal and regulatory responses that are unlikely to be matched by other countries, we put ourselves at a competitive disadvantage without making a meaningful impact on global greenhouse gas emissions. We need to lead a continued and careful evaluation of all options to allow us to address climate change in ways that benefit both our environment and our economy. . ."
    The American Chemistry Council (ACC) released the following statement saying, "Senator Murkowski's energy blueprint recognizes that domestic energy production has become the engine driving America's economy by producing thousands of new jobs and spurring billions of dollars in new manufacturing investment, including the potential for over $55 billion in new chemical industry capital investment. ACC has long-endorsed a comprehensive energy strategy that encourages and develops all of America's own energy resources, from increased production of natural gas to innovations that contribute to greater energy efficiency. Many of these approaches are captured in Senator Murkowski's energy initiative, and we hope this all-of-the-above approach to energy is prioritized in the new Congress.

    "Senator Murkowski's blueprint offers a strategic and substantial portfolio of ideas in support of its objective to develop an abundant, affordable, clean, diverse and secure energy future. The framework advocates for boosting domestic energy production, while continuing to fund scientific research on advanced energy technologies. The blueprint also supports modernizing federal energy policies to boost innovations in energy efficiency -- many of which are enabled by chemistry -- that will result in economic and environmental benefits across the country. ACC applauds Senator Murkowski for her leadership in crafting this energy blueprint that provides a framework for enhancing our nation's energy security and supporting America's manufacturing renaissance."

    Franz Matzner, associate director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said, "Sen. Murkowski's energy blueprint for the future reads more like a cut-and-paste job from the fossil fuel industry's playbook of the past. It relies extensively on policies and incentives for increased oil and gas drilling, while ruling out many of the policy tools most likely to reduce carbon pollution and bring cleaner energy technologies into the marketplace. As the representative of the fastest-melting state in the union, Sen. Murkowski should not be pushing drilling in our most pristine landscapes or approving a pipeline that will result in more, not less, climate change problems. We need a plan that moves us forward to the 21st century, not one that keeps us wedded to the past." 
    David Moulton, senior legislative director at The Wilderness Society (TWS) said, "Senator Murkowski's energy plan is a lesson in ignoring inconvenient truths. It flat out ignores any harmful effect of global climate change. It ignores the vast swaths of unused acreage that the oil and gas industry has already leased. And it ignores the growth of clean, renewable energy. Instead of building on the path the country is on towards using precious energy more efficiently and competing for the renewable energy jobs of tomorrow, this Energy Plan is a U-turn on progress."

    Access the complete 123-page document (click here). Access her speech from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) (click here). Access a fact sheet (click here). Access a release from ACC (click here). Access a release from NRDC (click here). Access a release from TWS (click here). [#Energy]

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