Murkowski Committee Work Brings Funds for Energy and Water Projects

Hydrokinetic Potential Gets Big Investment in Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Senator Lisa Murkowski today secured provisions in the FY2013 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill that will result in continued investments in statewide energy projects through her position on the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. The items put forth by Senator Murkowski cover development efforts statewide – from established work in oil and gas on the North Slope to developing technologies in hydropower and methane hydrates.

The bill passed out of subcommittee today and heads to the full Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday.

In her remarks of appreciation to her subcommittee colleagues, she spoke of Alaska’s hydrokinetic potential, saying “Think about the enormous potential in this country, with all of our coastal areas and the power within our currents and our rivers.  We’ve got 33,000 miles of coastline in Alaska – it’s ready, it’s there, it’s as reliable as the tides.  How do we harness that? I think it’s exciting and one of the areas when we talk about renewable, it doesn’t get enough attention.”

Click HERE for audio of her subcommittee remarks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1dyOzFGNAE&feature=youtu.be


The bill includes a total of $59 million for hydropower, including $44 million for ocean energy and $15 million for conventional hydropower projects. That amount represents nearly a tripling of the amount President Obama included in his budget proposal for hydropower.

Civil Works Funding

The bill provides roughly $20 million for the study and maintenance of navigation and flood control projects throughout Alaska. It also continues funding for Small, Remote, or Subsistence harbors, a program that was created in last year’s bill.

Methane Hydrates

Under the president’s proposed budget, methane hydrates research would receive $10 million. Murkowski pointed out that the funding level was insufficient to allow Alaska to continue ongoing testing of methane hydrates production.

“The test is expected to cost $22 million and I’m concerned that the amount in the bill is not enough to keep the project going,” Murkowski said. “If you are open to working with me on this, I would like to see if it’s possible to increase the amount of funding for methane hydrates to at least $15 million.”

Pipeline Coordinator

The Senate included $1 million for the office of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Coordinator at Murkowski’s request. The money will allow the federal coordinator to continue to integrate the activities of the federal agencies involved in the permitting and construction of a pipeline to bring North Slope gas to market.

Denali Commission

In addition to $10.2 million for the Denali Commission’s work in energy and water development, a provision was added to the 2013 bill that opens the door for additional funding streams from the State of Alaska and other federal agencies where needed.  The Commission has been prohibited from receiving monies from the State and EPA recently when they have offered financial assistance for work.

Nuclear Energy

The appropriations bill provides statutory authority for the creation of interim storage facilities to hold the nation’s spent nuclear fuel and fulfills the federal government’s  obligation to the nation’s nuclear industry.

“I’m pleased to have worked with Senators Feinstein, Bingaman and Alexander to include language that gets us back on a path to addressing the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. By moving forward on interim storage, the federal government can send a strong signal to utilities and rate payers that we will meet our obligations on used nuclear fuel. At the same time, we recognize that there is much more that needs to be accomplished, including action on a permanent repository,” Murkowski added.