Murkowski: Regular Review Would Improve Energy Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today gave the following remarks during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the Quadrennial Energy Review Act (S.1703):

“I welcome the opportunity to consider the Administration’s recent technology review and our bipartisan legislation to establish a Quadrennial Energy Review. 

“I have long believed that our nation needs to develop an energy policy that can endure – a policy that won’t be completely revamped every time a new administration comes into office, or every time Congress passes a new Energy Policy Act.  That’s why I was pleased to co-sponsor S. 1703, which requires the Department of Energy to conduct a review every four years to help develop a coordinated, government-wide energy policy.

“It’s hard to believe that we don’t already require something like the QER.  Energy is critical to almost everything we do, and the federal government has implemented a wide variety of subsidies, regulations, and mandates in this area.  Despite that, there is no regular high-level assessment of whether our policies are effective – and whether they can be consolidated, improved, or repealed. Given the challenges we face today, it seems more appropriate than ever to require something like the QER.

“Of course, I realize that conducting an interagency study and actually putting a long-term policy into place are two very different challenges.  That’s why any study or plan must involve all parties from the start.  If there is not buy-in across the political aisle, from Capitol Hill to the White House, from industry and NGOs alike, there is little chance the review will help generate a long-term strategy that can survive changes in administrations or in Congress.

“I have also long advocated that the government should not pick winners and losers when it comes to new technologies.  In terms of energy innovation and addressing our energy needs, there is a role for us to invest in research – absolutely.  But I would suggest that in the vast majority of cases, if not every case, industry and the market will figure out a commercially-viable solution much more quickly and efficiently than the government. 

“I believe a prime example is the development of fracking technologies to access our nation’s tremendous shale gas resources.  Last week we held a hearing on the exportation of liquefied natural gas, which very few would have anticipated just a few short years ago.  We thought we would need to import natural gas from foreign suppliers – not be in a position to potentially export a small portion of our expanding supply to other nations. 

“As we consider a process to develop a long-term energy plan, we need to keep examples like that in mind.  We can set goals for our energy technologies, current and future, and we can lay out a stable statutory and regulatory environment to achieve those goals.  But there is a limit to what we can do, there is a limit to the effect that government can have, and from time to time there will be unexpected events that require us to re-evaluate our strategy and our policies. 

“I’m hopeful that today’s hearing will help reinforce the need for a QER, and highlight its importance to the formation of a truly balanced and long-term energy policy.”

Watch Sen. Murkowski’s opening statement here.