Against All Odds: Energy Bill Includes Production

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today voted in favor of passing a comprehensive energy bill to improve the nation’s energy system.
The American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 will enhance energy efficiency, boost investment in renewable energy, open promising new areas in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas production, inventory offshore resources, aid construction of a natural gas pipeline from Alaska, improve the nation’s aging transmission grid and reaffirm the nation’s commitment to nuclear power.
The bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 15 to 8.
“Today, this committee reaches the end of a long and sometimes bumpy road toward reporting out energy legislation,” Murkowski said. “Despite an uphill fight against Democrats’ three-vote majority, 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.”
“While I support this bill in its present form, we simply must do more to increase our domestic production and use of nuclear energy,” Murkowski said. “I will continue to press for those provisions on the Senate floor.”
Attempts by Murkowski and others on the committee to permit the use of directional drilling technology to extract oil and gas from ANWR without any surface presence, and allow revenue sharing between states and the federal government from oil and gas production in the OCS, were blocked by Democrats.
“Renewables are an important part of our energy mix, but the reality is that we will remain dependent on fossil fuels for decades to come,” Murkowski said.  “We should not be importing oil and gas that we can produce here at home. Taking responsibility for our own energy needs will create good jobs and improve our energy security.”
Highlights of the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009, include:
  • Clean Energy Deployment Administration – provides for increased capitalization of clean energy projects;
  • Oil and gas – opens portions of the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, including Destin Dome, to oil and gas leasing, and establishes a one-stop permitting office in Alaska for offshore leasing in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas;
  • Alaska natural gas pipeline – increases federal loan guarantee for the developers of a gas pipeline project from $18 billion to $30 billion, and allows access to the Federal Financing Bank;
  • Energy workforce development – provides assistance to institutions of higher learning and community colleges that place an emphasis on energy jobs and help train the energy workers of the future;
  • Energy efficiency – establishes new efficiency standards for several consumer products and makes changes that will allow standards to be updated more often and be market driven;
  •  Renewable electricity standard – requires utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity with renewable energy by 2021, and contains consumer off-ramps for increased costs and the opportunity to petition for a variance due to transmission constraints, includes expanded definition of biomass, eligible hydropower and removes nuclear uprates from the baseline; 
  • Nuclear – provides clear statement of the federal government’s support for nuclear energy, as well as encourages resolution of the spent nuclear fuel issue.
  • Transmission – addresses planning and siting of electrical transmission infrastructure by encouraging states to develop plans and giving FERC backstop siting authority, ties cost allocation to benefits;
  • Cyber security – increases authority for both FERC and the Department of Energy to protect the nation’s electrical grid from cyber security threats and vulnerabilities;
  • Carbon sequestration – allows for indemnification of up to 10 demonstration projects;
  • Modification of Section 526 ­– allows the government, and in particularly the military, to purchase Canadian tar sand oil.
The energy bill now goes to the Senate floor for consideration and final passage.