Murkowski Secures Funding for Energy Innovation

Committee Approves Energy and Water Funding Bill, Renewed Focus on Arctic

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee recently passed the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.

The measure will provide funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) secured several provisions to address Alaska’s unique infrastructure needs and to promote an innovative and sustainable approach to energy production. New this year, due to the efforts of Senator Murkowski, the bill contains a renewed focus on the Arctic region regarding energy innovation and security.

“As our state grapples with budget difficulties, this bill funds projects which serve as a lifeline to so many coastal communities, while providing for economic growth and development in our state. The provisions contained in this bill will bring much-needed investments in infrastructure and energy innovation to Alaska,” said Senator Murkowski. “I am especially pleased to have secured language promoting innovative technology, which will help meet the needs of rural areas, including the rapidly-changing Arctic region. I’m thankful that my Senate colleagues on the Appropriations Committee worked together to pass this crucial piece of legislation that will help so many communities across the nation, including Alaska.”

Murkowski secured the following priorities for Alaska:

Spurring Energy Development and Affordability

  • Arctic Energy: Senator Murkowski successfully included new report language which encourages the Department of Energy to support a renewed focus on the Arctic region and use the Arctic Energy Office as a centralized area to support the use of energy resources, but also innovative activities, including microgrids, alternative energy development, and integrated energy systems.
    • The Committee supports the promotion of research, development, and deployment of electric power technology that is cost-effective and well-suited to meet the needs of rural and remote regions of the U.S., especially where permafrost is present or located nearby. In addition, the committee further supports research, development and deployment in such regions of enhanced oil recovery technology, including heavy oil recovery, reinjection of carbon, and extended reach drilling technologies; gas-to-liquids technology and liquefied natural gas, including associated transportation systems, small hydroelectric facilities, river turbines, and tidal power; natural gas hydrates, coal bed methane, and shallow bed natural gas; and alternative energy, including wind, geothermal, and fuel cells…”
    • Weatherization Assistance Program: Restores funding to $215 million to improve the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes.
    • State Energy Program: Originally proposed to be eliminated, provides $50 million to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emergency preparedness.
    • Office of Indian Energy: Funded at $16 million for the initiative that assists tribes with energy needs and projects on their lands and formally establishes the office of Indian energy as its own entity within the Department with clear and separate budget authority.
    • Methane Hydrates: $19.8 million to further research the production of natural gas from methane hydrates, including a recommendation for the Secretary of Energy to perform a long-term methane hydrate production test in the Arctic. Alaska’s Arctic contains an estimated 32,600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas locked in ice crystals – enough energy to power the entire nation for 1,000 years.
    • Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E): Originally proposed to be eliminated, increased funding for this program will drive down the costs of emerging, pre-commercial technologies to make energy more affordable, reliable, clean, diverse and secure.

Improving Alaska’s Infrastructure

  • Arctic Deep Draft Port Study:
    • Secured report language encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to thoroughly evaluate the proposed deep draft port in Nome, taking into account the wide range of economic benefits the project would bring to the region, the expansion of search and rescue capabilities it would provide, and the national security benefits.
    • Harbors:
      • Secured language to create one new start investigation for a remote subsistence harbor.
      • St. Paul Cost-Share Fix: Senator Murkowski successfully included language to clarify a cost-share issue for the St. Paul harbor, reverting their share back to the originally agreed upon 10%, rather than the 35% that was being asked from them after project completion.
      • Denali Commission: $15 million for the Commission tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska.

Senator Murkowski is chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee and chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

Related Issues: Energy