President’s Budget Represents Missed Opportunity on Energy Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today made the following opening statement at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the administration’s proposed fiscal year 2013 budget for the Department of Energy.

“It almost goes without saying that I was disappointed by the administration’s overall request for fiscal year 2013. We all hoped – and expected – that the president would lead the way by presenting a good plan to reduce our debt and grow our economy. It was an opportunity to address entitlements, reform the tax code and make swift progress in balancing the federal budget.

“We instead received a document that largely ignores the greatest threat to our economy – the more than $15 trillion in debt that led to the United States’ first-ever credit downgrade last summer. Last year’s budget request lamented the ‘special interest loopholes’ that riddle our tax code, but this year’s proposes even more. It describes an economy ‘built to last’ and yet, is filled with proposals that have virtually no chance of passage. 

“Unfortunately, I look at the energy budget and I think this is clear within the energy policy as well. I can understand and even support many of the proposals within DOE’s budget. I appreciate the emphasis on science and research. More money for geothermal research will be a good thing, and the emphasis on drop-in biofuels is a worthy endeavor.  

“At the same time, I disagree with the decision to reduce funding for renewable water power. Research and development efforts that could help unlock massive volumes of unconventional resources are again zeroed out. And I’m also concerned by many of the big ticket expenses that are either directly or indirectly tied to this budget – new and renewed tax credits, an extension of the 1603 grants program, a $1 billion vehicle deployment program, $5 billion for advanced manufacturing, and $6 billion for the HOME STAR efficiency program.

“I understand why people want to fund all of those. But given the state of the federal budget, I would stress that now is a time to differentiate between what we want to fund and what we need to fund. While DOE’s discretionary budget grows by just over three percent in this request, adding all of the programs and subsidies included in the broader budget would nearly double our spending on energy.     

“I am willing to support more spending in this area – but only if the revenues are derived from new, and not existing, production. But that’s another problem with this budget. It re-ignites a fight that the administration has waged, and overwhelmingly lost, for the past three years. Instead of taking steps to extract new domestic energy from our tremendous resource base, the administration has decided to again try to extract $40 billion from the consumers of oil and gas and coal – regardless of the consequences that could have for our energy supply, our economy and our security.

“Just weeks ago the president joined our repeated calls for an “all of the above” approach to energy policy. That is certainly something I’ve embraced and I think most of our colleagues here have as well. But I’m just not seeing that play out within the budget. It causes me to wonder if the budget planners were working together with the president when he enunciated those words in his speech. I’d like to see us get to that point.”

Murkowski is the ranking Republican on both the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.