U.S. House energy bill has Alaska-friendly provisions

WASHINGTON -- A sweeping energy bill was approved Wednesday by the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with the support of the panel's top Republican, Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
The bill, which passed 15-8, now goes to the Senate floor for consideration. The wide-ranging legislation includes a provision increasing the transparency of energy markets, establishes new energy efficiency standards for appliances and opens up additional areas of the eastern Gulf of Mexico to possible oil and gas exploration.
As the top Republican on the panel, Murkowski had a major hand in the legislation. She said in a statement that Republicans had "an uphill fight against Democrats' three-vote majority" on the committee to include GOP priorities. That included Murkowski's efforts to pass an amendment that would allow directional drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
But the bill also includes a number of Alaska-friendly provisions added by Murkowski, including one allowing the builders of the proposed natural gas pipeline to access the federal financing bank -- money that's available at a cheap rate close to the federal government's cost of borrowing. It also increases from $18 to $30 billion the amount of loans the federal government will guarantee for the project.
"We were able to include a number of provisions that will lead to more domestic production of the conventional energy we need to drive this country," Murkowski said. "While I support this bill in its present form, we simply must do more to increase our domestic production and use of nuclear energy. I will continue to press for those provisions on the Senate floor."

By:  Erika Bolstad
Source: MURKOWSKI: Top Republican senator on panel gets help for the gas pipeline.