Murkowski Rolls out Energy-Policy Reforms; Plan Omits Climate-Change Provisos

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Lengell, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Senate energy committee's top Republican rolled out a plan Monday for broad policy reforms that call for increased domestic oil drilling and loosening federal regulations, an effort designed to make the country largely energy self-sufficient by the end of the decade.

But conspicuously absent from Sen. Lisa Murkowski's plan were any significant climate-change proposals - a move that threatens one of President Obama's signature agenda items of his second term.

The plan isn't in legislative form, but rather designed to be a discussion blueprint to completely wean the nation from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil by 2020.

The Alaskan Republican touted the plan as a balanced approach, pointed to provisions that would lead to more funding opportunities for renewable - or so-called clean - energy sources like biofuels, wind and solar.

The plan would build on research initiatives for clean energy, such as federal loan programs and public-private partnership financing. She calls for extra money generated from her proposals to create an Advanced Energy Trust Fund for clean-energy research and to pay down the national debt.

What I'm working toward is a proposal that gets us to a policy that is affordable, it's abundant, it's clean, it's diverse and it's secure, Ms. Murkowski said Monday on MSNBC. If we can work toward all those things, we actually get to a better climate, a better environment, just a place where we're stronger as a nation, and where we're cleaner environmentally as a nation.

But the plan focuses heavily on tapping into the nation's expansive oil and gas reserves, including drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a controversial move strongly opposed by environmentalists. It also calls for strong partnerships with Canada and Mexico to ensure oil exports from those countries continue.

The plan calls for streamlining the federal review and permitting process that Republicans have complained has delayed or sidelined big energy projects, such as the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast. …