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Issue Position: Energy

Issue Position

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Location: Unknown

Alaskans know well the impact energy has on their daily lives and on our state's development, both past and future. Some 31 percent of all Alaskan jobs, one-third of the state's total economy, and 85 percent of state government revenues in some way lead back to the oil and gas industry. I believe we must grow our production of oil and gas, both for the benefit of Alaska and the nation. But I also believe we should diversify our energy supply and find better, more affordable ways to heat our homes, fuel our vehicles and run our businesses.

Alaska has vast renewable energy resources that can be harnessed to reduce the cost of electricity. We already produce 24 percent of our power from water, and we have the potential to generate 1,250 terawatts of power from wave, tidal and ocean current hydrokinetic energy. Nearly 40 percent of our state could tap into the geothermal power underground and we have tens of millions of acres of commercial forests and excess fish waste that could be turned into biomass energy. Many of the most remote communities in Western and Northern Alaska are beginning to see the benefits of capturing the wind to generate electricity.

And we haven't even begun to talk about the tremendous opportunities that construction of a natural gas pipeline and responsible development of our offshore resources could unlock.

One of the greatest economic challenges we face is access to affordable and reliable energy. Yet even with the abundance of oil and natural gas Alaska is blessed with, many parts of our state pay exorbitant prices for electricity and fuel. Traditional dependence on diesel in rural areas pushes electricity costs to 60 cents a kilowatt hour or higher. We must do more to tap into the diverse energy sources that Alaska has to offer. As the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I'm working to provide the federal support to make a better energy future for all of us.

I support increased funding for renewable energy projects, including the type of wind projects that are now reducing electricity prices in many rural communities and the small hydro projects critical to affordable energy in Southeast.

I have consistently fought to open the coastal plain of ANWR to energy exploration and to expand oil and gas development in NPR-A. Even with greater development of renewable and alternative energies, we will need increased domestic production of oil and gas to meet our growing energy and economic demands. We can develop our resources both safely and for the benefit of all Alaskans.

To ensure that we get the most from development off our shores, I've fought for the state to receive a fair share of the federal revenue from offshore drilling -- a successful fight that has brought $100 million to the state and local governments.

As part of the 2009 energy bill approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I included language to create a consolidated permitting office for Alaska to speed up offshore exploration for oil and natural gas. I also included language to develop a comprehensive inventory of offshore oil and gas resources so we know our true potential.

To promote the development of a natural gas pipeline, I was able to include a $30 billion federal loan guarantee and access to the federal bank, tax breaks, a needed North Slope conditioning plant, and accelerated permitting and judicial review to speed the line's construction. These benefits are available for either an overland line through Canada or an in-state LNG project. I was also able to include $20 million for Alaska job training for the pipeline.

Moving forward, I hope to increase funding for electric transmission improvements -- vital for the construction of the Southeast Intertie and transmission to rural villages. I will continue to work to ensure that Alaska and Alaskans can access the lands that hold energy resources as well as the federal support programs to develop traditional and alternative energy sources.


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