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Sen. Murkowski Clear on Need to Reform Loan Guarantee Program

ICYMI: Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday laid out her principles for a commonsense national energy policy – affordable, abundant, clean, diverse and secure – during an energy forum put on by George Washington University and Arent Fox.

Sen. Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, made clear in her remarks, and in comments to reporters after the speech, that she believes the taxpayer subsidized loan guarantee program (1705) created by President Obama under the stimulus, which was the source of the failed Solyndra loan guarantee, was a hijacking of – and should not be confused with – the original loan guarantee program (1703) created in EPACT ‘05.

Sen. Murkowski has repeatedly called for an investigation of the loan guarantee program, and has consistently observed that significant reforms must to be made in order for a loan guarantee program to continue in any form. In the end, everyone's goal should be the same: providing full protection for taxpayers and ensuring their money is not wasted through poor investment decisions like we've seen in recent years.

Sen. Murkowski specifically called for an overhaul of the loan guarantee program during a hearing of the Energy Committee in March. Her statement from that hearing is here.

A few highlights from Sen. Murkowski’s speech:

“Our goals should to be to make [energy] as abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure as possible….”

“One thing I won't do is stand here and tell you which resources, which technologies - or even which exact policies - will enable us to meet our energy goals.  Some of that will be laid out in the energy plan I intend to release this summer. For now, I'll simply say that it's inappropriate for the federal government to focus on one technology, to the exclusion of others.  Markets and consumers will make the choice far better than anyone else….”

“We need to make some hard decisions about the extent of the federal government's role. The past several years have seen remarkable advances in new technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. It's true that industry did most of the work in advancing those technologies - and it's also true that the government played a role in the earliest stages of development, when there was less reason for the private sector to be interested. These examples should be applied today. The federal government can help fund research that would otherwise not be undertaken, but our job is not to offer subsidies that never end or subsidies that prop up a technology every step of the way to commercialization. A good example is methane hydrates - Conoco Phillips and DOE partnered to test a prospect on the North Slope and it was successful. But this will never involve the government mandating that states buy energy from methane hydrates; it will never involve federal payments to companies to produce or deliver them….”

“Our energy policies must pay for themselves. The tens of billions of dollars contained in the 2009 stimulus for 'clean energy' have had much less of an impact than projected, and many taxpayers are rightly unhappy with the results of that spending….”

Read the full speech here.

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