Murkowski: Fairbanks Energy Costs TOO High, Offers Real Solutions
Anchorage, AK- Saying energy and fuel costs are too high in the northern Railbelt, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today said that if re-elected it will be her priority to get an Alaska natural gas pipeline under way -- and soon. She’ll also work to win federal assistance for Fairbanks renewable wind and geothermal energy, help bring propane to Fairbanks and Interior communities, protect environmentally sensitive coal development and push for additional oil field development in northern Alaska.
Murkowski, during a press conference at the Fairbanks Curling Club, unveiled her energy plan for Fairbanks and the northern Railbelt and picked up endorsements from local leaders.
Murkowski, who is conducting a write-in campaign for her third term in the U.S. Senate, said she intends to push all sides to get on with an Alaska natural gas pipeline project before future shale gas supplies expand in the Lower 48.
“In recent weeks I’ve spoken to a number of energy leaders in Alaska, leaders with an aggressive vision for getting Alaska’s natural gas to market and making sure that our in-state needs are met, especially here in Fairbanks where fuel and electricity prices are so high that they are straining budgets and affecting the local economy,” said Senator Murkowski.
“There are varying opinions about how to get our gas to market, whether a pipeline overland can proceed quickly or whether it’s time to turn our attention back toward an All-Alaska pipeline with a LNG (liquefied natural gas) focus for sales of gas on the West Coast or to other markets. What I pledge in a new term is to accelerate efforts to get a gas line underway. We can make this line happen if we all agree that:
“* We must bring Alaska’s gas to Alaskan markets quickly.
“* Make sure Alaska markets are on the way to much larger markets.
“* And make sure we get the best price for our natural gas, wherever in the world that price may end up being,” said Lisa Murkowski.
Murkowski already is involved in advancing an expanded federal loan guarantee to help with financing of either an overland route or an LNG export project. She has already won Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approval to raise the guarantee to $30 billion plus inflation from the current $18 billion cap, plus language allowing the Federal Financing Bank to make the guarantee that should cut interest rates and pipeline costs, and other key language making the guarantee work betterShe hopes those provisions will pass Congress either in a lame duck session this fall or early in the 112th Congress.
Besides the guarantee, Murkowski said she would work hard to encourage the producers and state to come together on a project and tax plan to speed approval for the overland route, now that the “open seasons” have closed for both the Trans-Canada-Exxon project and the Denali project by BP and Conoco-Phillips. But if the overland project can’t proceed in time sufficient to meet Alaskan needs, she will certainly encourage the state to look at other options, such as a renewed look at an LNG delivery project, should markets for the gas be better on the West Coast or elsewhere.
Besides the main gas line, the senator will support efforts to both complete new natural gas storage facilities in Cook Inlet to guard against brownouts and gas shortages in winter, while encouraging more natural gas exploration and development in the inlet. She also will:
- Oil Development: It is critical for Alaskans to remember Sen. Murkowski’s dual positions of authorizing and appropriating power over the Interior Department, slated for next year in the Senate. Not only will Lisa have enough votes in the Energy Committee to pass ANWR votes for any committee bill, but she will have the power to deny any appropriations that go towards further restricting Alaska’s federal oil and gas fields, including offshore fields. This position is unprecedented for any Alaskan member of Congress. Hence, Senator Murkowski will aggressively push for action on legislation to allow oil and gas development though directional drilling and subsurface technology in the Arctic coastal plain, fight for oil development to be allowed in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska, and work for environmentally sound oil and gas development from Alaska’s outer continental shelf.
- Renewable Energy: Work to win federal funding for a program she authored in 2007 – the Renewable Energy Deployment Grant program -- that could provide funding for both the 10 megawatt expansion of geothermal electricity at Chena Hot Springs and for the 24 megawatt Eva Creek wind farm project that Golden Valley Electric Association is planning to help diversify power in the upper Railbelt and reduce emissions. She also will continue to be a leader in development of (ocean) marine hydrokinetic power, such current-produced electricity from the Yukon River.
- Hydroelectric Power: Push for passage of legislation to provide additional financial incentives and streamline regulatory hurdles so more hydroelectric power can be installed throughout Alaska, including in the Railbelt. Two bills she introduced this summer would help both the Lake Chakachamna and perhaps the Susitna River dam project proceed, not counting many smaller projects such as one proposed near Tok. She also will seek aid for new electric transmission to bring lower-cost power to rural villages and move electricity to new markets throughout the Railbelt, in Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.
- Propane Distribution: Help the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority’s efforts to establish a propane distribution system for the Railbelt and to Interior river communities to truck North Slope propane south to reduce fuel costs for now and in the future, whether or not a main gas line is constructed.
- Protect coal production: Help Golden Valley Electric Association and the state in reopening the Healy Clean Coal Plant to generate 50 megawatts of badly needed electricity for Fairbanks using state of the art clean coal technology. She also will continue to support research and technology to allow coal production to continue with reduced air and carbon emissions, including the potential for coal gasification with carbon sequestration. She also will work to further underground coal gasification development in the future.
- Nuclear Power: The Senator, in a new term, will continue to push for research to see if small self-contained nuclear power plants can help to reduce rural power costs in Alaska. She supports the consideration of small nuclear since it emits no carbon emissions and no pollution.
- Advanced technology: And thus, as she did when she helped win potential appropriations for the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation to study synthetic fuel production, the Senator will continue looking for ways to generate natural gas or coal synthetic fuels that could lower fuel costs and help protect the future of Eielson Air Force Base and Fairbanks International Airport by continuing oil production regardless of the future of the North Pole refinery that she also strongly supports.