Sen. Murkowski: QER Highlights Need to Modernize America's Energy Policies

Press Release

Date: April 28, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today offered to work with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to update the nation's energy infrastructure and modernize federal energy policies as part of broad energy legislation she is putting together with the members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Murkowski's comments came during a full committee hearing focused on the Department of Energy's recently-released Quadrennial Energy Review (QER).

"The QER looks at our nation's energy infrastructure at a critical time when many of our systems are aging and in urgent need of modernization. We have also seen dramatic increases in energy production. Oil and gas are at record levels, the market penetration of variable power generation is on the rise, and the stress placed on our systems has increased faster than it can be addressed," Murkowski said.

"The QER makes a number of recommendations to alleviate our current deficiencies. In many cases, the solution is new spending -- adding up to billions of dollars. It is important to remember that the vast majority of the nation's infrastructure is privately owned and sustained and improved by private investment. At the same time, I understand that advancing our energy infrastructure will require some federal funding even within constrained budgets. But federal spending is not all that matters. So do regulations -- particularly those that hold back projects and private investment," Murkowski said. "We have to keep that in mind and find a better balance."

Murkowski raised with Secretary Moniz the importance of enacting policies to extend the life of existing infrastructure, such as the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which is critical to the energy security of the nation. That includes, Murkowski said, making sure that new energy projects that will add supply to existing infrastructure are allowed to advance in a timely manner.

Murkowski, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also stressed the importance of advancing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports in Alaska and across the nation. Secretary Moniz assured her that DOE is moving forward with its consideration of the Alaska's LNG export project.

"We have extraordinary quantities of natural gas in Alaska, but what we lack is the infrastructure to move that natural gas to market. Alaskans would love to sell that natural gas across the Pacific Ocean to countries like Japan. Can you assure me that you are pursuing a conditional license for the Alaska LNG export project and that this project is receiving your full attention?" Murkowski asked Secretary Moniz.

Moniz told Murkowski that DOE is taking into account the "special factors" around Alaska's vast natural gas resources -- primarily that their export would not affect prices in the Lower 48 -- in its consideration of the conditional export approval.

Murkowski also raised the issues of lifting the outdated ban on crude oil exports -- which she has promised to address through new legislation -- and the importance of strengthening North American energy security through greater integration of infrastructure with Canada, including the Keystone XL pipeline.

"As we are talking about energy infrastructure and policies for the country going forward, we need to be looking at some of the antiquated policies that we have in place, including the 40-year-old ban crude oil exports," Murkowski said.

The energy committee is planning hearings throughout May on proposals to be considered for inclusion in broad energy legislation, which will include four titles: efficiency, infrastructure, supply, and accountability. Murkowski said the QER provides plenty of ideas for possible inclusion in the final bill.

The full video of Murkowski's comments is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee's website.