Chairman Murkowski Leads ENR to Another Productive Congress
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today reflected on the work and accomplishments of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) over the past two years. The committee’s accomplishments in the 116th Congress (2019-2020) include a sweeping public lands and natural resources package, the first major energy legislation to be enacted in 13 years, the confirmation of every considered nominee, and the passage of many individual measures by unanimous consent and as part of broader measures.
“While 2020 was a difficult year in many respects, the 116th Congress was a remarkably productive time for the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as we steered part or all of somewhere close to 200 measures jurisdictional to us into federal law. We started 2019 with the passage of our bipartisan lands package, agreed to historic investments for the maintenance of our public lands early last year, and closed out 2020 with the first major update to our nation’s energy laws in over a decade,” Murkowski said. “I thank my Ranking Member, Senator Manchin, for being a great partner and for working with me to find bipartisan solutions to the issues that came before us. I also thank the members of the committee for their contributions and collegial approach, the administration for its close working relationship, and our staffs, who worked hard to help us make these accomplishments a reality.”
Signed into law as Division Z of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, in December 2020, this 550-page package is the first major energy legislation to be enacted in 13 years. The Energy Act prioritizes the research, development, and demonstration of a wide range of next-generation technologies that will keep American energy affordable and globally competitive while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, industry, and buildings. The Energy Act also takes the most meaningful legislative steps in decades to begin to rebuild domestic supply chains and improve America’s mineral security.
Signed into law in March 2019 as Murkowski’s S. 47, the Dingell Act encompassed more than 120 measures benefiting often-rural communities and public lands across the nation. Among other provisions, the legislation increased access and opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities on federal lands. The Dingell Act also addressed a longstanding inequity by allowing Alaska Native veterans who served during the Vietnam War to apply for their rightful land allotments.
This landmark conservation measure – authored by bipartisan members of ENR and largely comprised of two bills considered and reported by ENR – became law in August 2020. It provides for historic investments needed to reduce long-standing, multi-billion dollar deferred maintenance backlogs on public lands.
Over the course of 2019-2020, ENR considered and reported a total of 17 nominations for positions at the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Every nominee considered by the committee was ultimately confirmed to the position they were nominated for. ENR ended the 116th Congress with no nominees pending on the Senate’s Executive Calendar and a full complement of five commissioners serving at FERC.
The year-end 2020 omnibus also included a package of western water bills as Division FF of Title XI. The water provisions begin to tackle the massive aging infrastructure issues facing water users; ensure Bureau of Reclamation facilities can be utilized to improve groundwater storage and management; authorize crucial water projects; and extend several programs important to modernizing water systems and saving water.
Murkowski and Manchin also worked together to pass a number of measures on a standalone basis and as part of other, larger bills that were headed to the President’s desk. Examples include a two-year extension of the Secure Rural Schools program and legislation to preserve American battlefields, which were included in the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act in late 2019.
ENR Statistics for the 116th Congress
Hearings and Roundtables
(70 hearings, 3 roundtables)
Bills Considered in Committee
(excludes 120+ bills from the Dingell Act considered in 115th Congress)
Bills Reported from Committee
Murkowski will remain on ENR in the 117th Congress and will retain her role as the lead Republican on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.