Murkowski: DOE Must Focus on Maintaining U.S. Global Leadership in Science and Innovation

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired an oversight hearing to examine the U.S. Department of Energy’s $30.6 billion budget request for Fiscal Year 2019.

Murkowski opened the hearing by welcoming Secretary of Energy Rick Perry back to the committee and noted that she looks forward to hosting him in Alaska in the near future. In her opening remarks, she focused on the importance of energy innovation.

“While we should always be looking for places to cut the budget, we should also recognize that innovation is critical to our nation’s energy future – it creates jobs, boosts growth, adds to our security, and increases our competitiveness,” Murkowski said. “We need to focus on maintaining our global leadership in science, research, and development. It is also time to look at reforms that can reduce stovepipes at the Department and make better use of taxpayer dollars.”

Murkowski’s first question to Perry focused on cybersecurity, in the wake of last week’s joint alert from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI about Russian efforts to target U.S. energy infrastructure. 

Murkowski next asked about the administration’s priorities and focus on the Arctic. In response, Perry highlighted microgrids and small modular reactors as two technologies with significant promise for remote parts of Alaska.

“It’s going to take some unique ways to address challenges that the Arctic has,” Perry said. “We are committed to those – our national labs, the Office of Electricity – we are going to be working with you, and a commitment to you, to be very open to the innovation and the technology that can serve the people of Alaska in a way that hopefully they’ve never seen before.”

Murkowski also announced that Alaska will be hosting a “National Lab Day” at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in late May, which will provide an opportunity for the national labs to better understand the unique challenges and opportunities in the Arctic, while forming partnerships with local stakeholders and institutions.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here for Murkowski’s questions for Perry.

Related Issues: Energy