U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today gave the following remarks at
a Senate Energy and Natural Resources hearing on a report produced by
the American Energy Innovation Council entitled "Catalyzing American
Ingenuity: The Role of Government in Energy Innovation."
“Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to thank you for scheduling this
hearing, and extend a warm welcome to our witnesses.
“Mr. Augustine’s work on a report about competitiveness – called Rising
Above the Gathering Storm – served as the foundation for legislation
that passed by an overwhelming margin back in 2007. It wouldn’t surprise
me if his work on energy innovation, encapsulated in the report we’ll
learn more about today, ultimately leads to a similar result.
“I think most would agree that it’s time for us to renew a coherent,
long-term approach to energy development – truly an “all of the above”
approach. Innovation will be right at the core of that strategy, and I
believe it’s one of the few areas where the government can and should
provide greater funding.
"At the same time, I’m aware that even if we do decide to spend more on
energy innovation, we will have to make some truly difficult decisions
about the amount and duration of spending as well as what our priorities
are for it.
“I have just a few comments in each of those areas.
“First, the obvious: ‘Investment’ has become a code word for spending –
and that requires taxpayer dollars. With our nation more than $15
trillion in debt right now, greater spending in this area will need to
be fully offset.
“It will be challenging to find space in the budget, but that also
presents an opportunity to be financially creative.
“For years now, I’ve suggested that a portion of the revenues from
increased domestic energy production should be devoted to energy
innovation. That’s a key part of my ANWR legislation, which would raise
an estimated $150 billion for the federal treasury at today’s oil
prices. Even a fraction of those revenues could go a long way towards
developing the resources and technologies that we will rely on in the
future. And so I was glad to see the revenues from energy production
listed as a possibility in the “Catalyzing American Ingenuity” report.
how much we spend, we’ll also need to think carefully about our
priorities. When we look back at where taxpayer dollars have been spent
in recent years, it’s clear that we’re not even close to an “all of the
above” policy. We can see that in how much the federal government has
spent on solar and wind, as opposed to unlocking the potential of
methane hydrates. And we can see that in how much this administration
has spent on electric vehicles compared to other promising alternatives.
“Finally, a point about how long we should be involved here. It makes
good sense to invest in energy R&D. That’s in our interest. But it’s
against our interest to keep subsidizing the same resources and
technologies year after year without a clear path toward allowing those
technologies to stand on their own in the market. To strike the right
balance will require reform of existing programs, and the phase-out of
many of the subsidies currently in place. Some experts believe that
federal efforts should be oriented more towards basic research, and away
from deployment, because in a tight fiscal climate the government should
spend on priorities that no other institution will fund. I tend to agree
“When it comes to energy innovation, we have a lot of thinking to do,
and a lot of decisions to make. This hearing gives us an opportunity to
hear from some of the top experts on this issue, so Mr. Chairman, I’ll
stop here and give them a chance to speak.”