Politico: Lisa Murkowski pens revenue-sharing expansion bill

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski is drawing up legislation to expand revenue sharing with states to cover fossil fuels and renewable-energy sources that lie offshore and on federal land.

Murkowski’s plan would grant new states that house wind, oil, natural gas and other energy production off their coastlines an automatic revenue share of 27.5 percent with another 10 percent available if those funds are directed to research and development, alternative energy, efficiency and conservation.

“All of this is in the very, very early stages,” Murkowski’s committee staff director McKie Campbell told POLITICO.

The initiative comes after early talks with new Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden’s (D-Ore.) staff. “The form of the bill will continue to evolve,” Campbell said. “We’ve drafted a bill, which we’ll then sit down with them to discuss.”

Wyden also told reporters last month that he was discussing broadening revenue sharing for offshore wind and other energy sources as part of a deal with oil-state lawmakers on his panel, such as Murkowski and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

“There’s a chance to knit together a new coalition,” Wyden said, linking the interests of rural Oregonians who care about the timber industry and New Englanders who want renewable power off their coasts with lawmakers who back the offshore oil and gas industry.

“People are saying, ‘We’re interested in wave and wind development,’ and they would be interested in jobs and economic vitality, but they’d also be interested in protecting natural resources,” he said.

Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska has blamed her dispute over revenue sharing with retired panel Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) for the lack of action in the committee in the last Congress, and Campbell said he expects the panel to be more active in the next two years.

“I don’t think any of us are talking about the big energy act of 2013 but rather, ‘Here’s a hydropower bill; here’s an [Outer Continental Shelf] bill; here’s a nuclear waste bill,’ that type of thing,” he said.

 The combined 37.5 percent in the bill being drafted by Murkowski is the guaranteed revenue sharing that Gulf states receive under federal law for producing oil and gas off their coasts in the OCS.

 The plan also would give states the same percentage of guaranteed revenue sharing — usually 50 percent — they receive for oil and gas on federal lands in their states for a broader mix of land-based energy production as well.

“I think that on land that the formula would be just the same as it is for fossil fuels,” Campbell said.

The idea is to encourage states to more actively push for production off their coasts and on federal land.

“There is a very strong belief that in a lot of these areas, if you don’t do something like this, you just don’t have anything,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he was “fairly certain” a revenue-sharing bill will be introduced and considered relatively early this year.

It would be part of an early push by the panel to build momentum early this Congress around some creative deal making by Wyden and Murkowski.

The panel’s early agenda will include a hearing — possibly spanning multiple days — to take a broad look at natural gas, including the economic benefits of the production boom, hydraulic fracturing, exports and the impact on greenhouse gas emissions, Campbell said.

There will also be public lands bills offered early in the session, and Murkowski and Wyden plan to hold markups for those “on a very regular basis,” Campbell said. He said to also expect bills early on regarding hydropower and that Wyden and others may push forestry and energy-efficiency measures.

“I know Sen. Wyden shares our frustration with the forest service,” Campbell said.

By late January, Murkowski is likely to release her blueprint for energy issues after she speaks to Wyden and other panel members, he said. “We don’t want to surprise anybody,” Campbell said.

Senate Republicans on Thursday announced that Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and freshmen Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) will join the energy panel this Congress. They will replace GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Dan Coats of Indiana and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Alexander has previously sought bipartisan deals on electric vehicles and nuclear waste storage while being a leading opponent of wind-energy subsidies.

Flake told POLITICO on Thursday that he will look to “try to expedite approval of permitting on federal lands for natural gas. That’s the hang-up right now.” He will refashion bills he introduced in the House.

Another former House member and new Senate energy panelist, freshman Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), said he will continue to push policies that won him the strong backing of environmental groups in his campaign.

“I’m going to continue to support a policy that says over time, we should be more and more domestic, more and more clean,” he told reporters shortly after being sworn in as a senator Thursday. “But in terms of specifics, a lot of it will have to do with the relationships that we build over the next few weeks and figuring out where we have some overlap with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), who returns to the panel for his second Congress, said he’ll again push legislation giving states the lead on hydraulic fracturing regulations and promoting coal ash recycling.

He also said to expect another push for congressional approval of the Keystone XL pipeline if the Obama administration denies it or delays a decision on it.

“One way or another, we’re going to get it,” he told POLITICO on Thursday.

An amendment Hoeven offered to highway legislation last March to approve the pipeline fell four votes short of the 60 it needed, with 11 Democrats voting with him. Nine of those Democrats are back this Congress, and other red-state Democrats such as Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana will join their ranks.

Hoeven said he and Heitkamp have chatted and expect to work together on energy issues, and he described Donnelly as “a very pragmatic kind of guy.” Heitkamp — who spoke of energy often on the campaign trail and distanced herself early on from the Obama administration’s policies — was not appointed to the energy panel. Heinrich and fellow liberal freshman Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) are the two new Democrats on the panel, balancing out fossil-fuel-state panel Democrats like Landrieu and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).




Source: By: Darren Goode