Murkowski: Modern Energy Infrastructure Key to Ensuring U.S. Competitive Advantage

Innovation Leads to More Efficient, Reliable, Affordable, and Cleaner Energy Systems

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine how our nation’s energy infrastructure, from production to generation to distribution, has significantly evolved over time. The committee also examined how federal policies affect energy infrastructure, and heard how new technologies and continued innovation will provide us with opportunities to continue to improve these systems.

“Energy infrastructure has been a key focus for our committee, particularly the roadblocks that hinder responsible development, challenges related to cybersecurity, and the pursuit of innovative technologies,” Murkowski said. “Today, we look at what we have, how we came to have it, and which policies have helped these efforts. One example of a good policy decision was Congress’ approval to build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. It is an engineering marvel, and a lifeline for Alaskans and our nation – creating jobs, providing revenues, and strengthening national security.” 

The hearing also examined transformations in the way that electricity is generated, transmitted, and distributed as a result of technological advancements, adaptation to a more diversified fuel mix, and changes in how energy is consumed. While industry continues to invest in upgrades to the nation’s aging transmission system, policies that provide greater siting and permitting certainty are critical to bringing these projects online.

“Looking forward, increased transmission investment is needed for both the expansion of the system to bring energy from new resources to demand centers and to maintain, enhance, and replace aging infrastructure,” Edison Electric Institute Executive Vice President Phil Moeller said. “…Specific areas for improvement include FERC hydropower relicensing, permitting and siting of transmission lines and natural gas pipelines, and vegetation management on and adjacent to rights-of-way across federal lands. The bipartisan Energy and Natural Resources Act introduced by Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell includes provisions addressing many such energy infrastructure issues.”

Murkowski is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The broad, bipartisan Energy and Natural Resources Act she introduced with Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., includes a number of infrastructure-related provisions, including streamlining the permitting process for LNG exports, enhancing electricity delivery, and improving the regulatory process for hydropower licensing and relicensing. The bill, S. 1460, is currently pending on the Senate calendar.

Archived video of today’s hearing may be found here. Click here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for witnesses.