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Begich Pushes for Alaska Resource Development, Jobs

Supports Efficiency Bill to Save Consumers Billions in Energy Costs

U.S. Senator Mark Begich took to the Senate floor today to urge his colleagues to support an energy efficiency bill that would create thousands of jobs and help reduce skyrocketing energy costs that are making it hard for Alaska families and all Americans to heat or cool their homes.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act – known as the Shaheen-Portman bill -would use incentives to increase the use of energy efficient technologies for residential, commercial and industrial consumers. The bill is deficit neutral, is projected to help create nearly 160,000 jobs by 2030, and will save consumers $60 billion over the next 16 years.

“Our state provides energy to the rest of the nation, yet our residents can’t afford to live where, in many cases, their families have lived for generations,” said Begich.  “Energy efficiency can have an immediate and profound effect on the lives of people in these communities.”

Click here for video of Sen. Begich’s floor speech today.

During his speech, Begich noted that Alaska’s per capita energy costs are the highest in the nation. In order to help alleviate some of these costs, Begich filed an amendment to the bill that would provide a $5,000 tax credit toward the purchase of efficient home heating and cooling appliances for families living with very high energy costs. He also helped fight the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to make the new regulations work for Alaskans.

“In Alaska, energy costs affect every aspect of life,” said Begich. “That’s why I fought to get the Healy Clean Coal plant online to lower rates and made sure the planned University of Alaska Fairbanks power plant will be exempted from EPA greenhouse gas regulations. High energy costs are driving people away from their traditional homes in rural Alaska and the Interior. Through efficiency and smart policy, we can save money and make families more comfortable in their own home. Otherwise, communities like Fairbanks become unaffordable. My amendment will help reduce these costs for families.” 

Begich cited examples of energy-saving investments that would be eligible for the tax credit, such as converting homes from expensive heating fuel to cleaner, more efficient natural gas or installing cleaner-burning woodstoves or pellet stoves. Both would help lower bills over time.

Begich used the Shaheen-Portman debate to also tout Alaska’s great energy production and ongoing potential. He pointed out that Alaska generates about 10 percent of America’s oil production, creating thousands of good jobs. Besides reserves in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, he also noted that producers are exploring the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas and making strides to resume exploratory drilling next summer.

“We all must recognize that resource development is a big part of the equation and that while conserving energy we must also secure new sources of energy,” Begich said on the floor. “If we’re talking about energy, of course I’m going to talk about Alaska oil and gas.”

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