Chairman Murkowski Continues to Champion Alaska’s Energy Priorities
Introduces New Concepts to Boost Alaska in Preparation for Broad Energy Bill
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has introduced a number of legislative proposals to facilitate the development of Alaska’s energy and mineral resources as part of her efforts to win Senate approval of the first broad energy bill in nearly a decade.
Murkowski’s most recent legislative efforts promote the production of hydropower and other renewable energy resources; authorize research into Alaska’s prolific methane hydrate resources; provide for predictability in rules for onshore oil and gas production; promote the development of microgrid technologies for Alaska’s isolated communities; and authorize energy assistance programs to address the high costs of energy paid by many Alaska Natives.
“We have been working hard on the energy committee since day one of this Congress – and we have now added five more bills that will benefit Alaska to the wide variety I have already introduced,” Murkowski said. “If we can steer these bills to passage, through a broad energy bill or on their own, Alaskans all across the state will benefit as a result of higher energy production and lower energy costs. These bills will help Alaska grow and prosper.”
Murkowski introduced the following proposals in advance of legislative hearings that are planned for later this month:
- Hydropower Improvement Act, S. 1236, would promote renewable hydropower development in Alaska by requiring the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to establish a binding schedule for its licensing proceedings and reforming procedures to ensure timely reviews and address permitting backlogs.
- MOU with State Programs for Oil and Gas Activities, S. 1230, would instruct the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to coordinate with state agencies to create consistent rules and processes for the management of oil and natural gas production on state and federal lands like the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
- Alaska Native Corporation Energy Assistance Program, S. 1235, would authorize Alaska Native Corporations to establish energy assistance programs for shareholders and allow them to pay for electricity, heat, or transportation fuels – and prohibit those programs from being taxed.
- Methane Hydrate Research Act, S. 1215, would reauthorize the U.S. research program into methane hydrates and require a production test in the Arctic within four years on lands that the state of Alaska has temporarily set aside for that purpose.
- Micro-Grid Implementation Strategy, S. 1227, would promote hybrid micro-grid technologies, including renewable technologies, for isolated communities with limited electricity options.
These new bills are in addition to the wide range of legislation that Murkowski has already introduced in the early months of the 114th Congress that would benefit Alaska.
The bills she has previously introduced would allow development in the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic coastal plain of ANWR; provide for offshore revenue sharing; authorize natural gas exports; reform the federal permitting process; exempt Alaska from the Clinton-era roadless rule; require congressional authorization and approval of National and Marine Monuments; ensure access to federal lands for sportsmen and other recreational users; and protect Alaskans from burdensome regulations that fail to recognize Alaska’s uniqueness.
Among the legislative proposals already being championed by Murkowski in the 114th Congress are the following:
- ANWR Development, S. 494, which would open the non-wilderness portion of the 1.6 million acre coastal plain of ANWR to oil and gas development under terms previously proposed by the Interior Department. The legislation would limit the footprint of development to no more than 2,000 acres and provide financial assistance to local communities.
- Sportsmen’s Legislation, S. 405, is a package of bills to guarantee access to federal lands for hunters and fishermen. It increases opportunities for hunting and fishing on public lands and reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which has helped Alaska preserve habitat. (Murkowski has also introduced a broader sportsmen’s bill, S. 556.)
- Critical Minerals, S. 883, would revitalize the domestic mineral supply chain and help reduce America’s growing dependence on foreign mineral supplies. The bill includes a series of steps to require geological surveying of critical mineral resources, reduce federal permitting delays, and ensure a robust workforce – all of which will help Alaskans develop more of our world-class mineral resource base.
- Monument Designations, S. 437, would require congressional approval prior to any national monument designation. For marine monuments, the bill would require specific authorization from Congress, approval by each state legislature within 100 miles of the proposed monument, and a stakeholder review process before implementation of any restrictions on public uses within the designated area.
- Inventoried Roadless Area Alaska Waiver, S. 631, would exempt Alaska from the 2003 Inventoried Roadless Area rules that prevent road construction in Alaska’s national forests for most purposes. The bill would permit mineral development and renewable energy projects with required transmission lines to be built on 9.5 million acres of the Tongass National Forest and 5.4 million acres of the Chugach National Forest.
- Landless Native Legislation, S. 872, would provide the five communities in Southeast Alaska – Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee and Haines – that were not allowed to create urban Native corporations under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act to set up such corporations to aid local Native residents.
- Alaska Kiln Drying, S. 644, would clarify the terms for loans given to 23 Alaska wood-producing firms last decade to install kiln drying facilities to add value to Alaska timber. The loans for the kilns had unclear repayment terms that need clarification for future financial issues for the mills that installed the facilities.
- Renaming Denali, S. 319, would rename Alaska’s tallest peak back to its Native and official Alaska state designation of “Denali” – rather than Mt. McKinley.
- Jay Hammond Wilderness, S. 873, would rename the existing 2.6 million acre wilderness in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in honor of Alaska’s fourth Governor, the Jay Hammond, as we mark the 10th anniversary of his passing. Governor Hammond homesteaded at Lake Clark.
Visit the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website for more on Chairman Murkowski’s priorities for Alaska.