Murkowski Has Some Issues; But Pledges GOP Cooperation

Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski raised concerns Tuesday about proposals from the panel's chairman that would require utilities to produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources.
Murkowski also insisted that nuclear energy should be included in the definition of renewable energy sources, challenging its exclusion from the "green energy" list offered by Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Jeff Bingaman.
At the same time, Murkowski pledged to work with Bingaman to produce a comprehensive and balanced national energy bill, in the hope it will get consideration on the Senate floor before the August recess. However, she complained that Senate Majority Leader Reid and some Democratic leaders in the House were pushing for faster action on the energy bill, which she said could prevent the committee from crafting a package that would be supported by a majority in the Senate and "truly benefit the country."
In return for her commitment to work with the majority to produce a consensus bill, Murkowski said she would expect the Democratic leadership to allow the energy package to appear on the floor as a stand-alone bill.
"I do not intend to provide air cover for a process that would produce an energy bill that would be hijacked on the floor as a vehicle for enacting climate-control legislation," she told a forum on energy held by the non-partisan Reform Institute.
The Alaska Republican said the committee has yet to address some of the more difficult issues, such as market transparency, clean-coal technology and energy production on public lands.
She said the bill would encourage greater energy efficiency and increased domestic production from alternative and renewable energy sources as well as fossil fuels. Murkowski said she was concerned that a "one-size-fits-all" requirement for renewable energy could harm some regions, such as the Southeast.
While noting that President Obama has said he supported offshore energy production, Murkowski said, "so far all we've seen is delay." She cited Interior Secretary Salazar's withdrawal of proposed energy leases, a court decision blocking exploration off Alaska's northern coast and delays on a project to install wind turbines off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass.

By:  Otto Kreisher