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Public Statements

Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I came to the floor, as Senator Isakson from Georgia and Senator Shaheen from New Hampshire were speaking about the biennial budget amendment and the effort they have undertaken. I just want to acknowledge their leadership on this issue. I think it is smart, I think it is wise, and I think it is something that we as a Senate should surely consider. I wanted to just make that brief comment.

As the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I know bipartisan progress on energy is possible in this Congress. While it may take our committee some time to develop, consider, and complete legislation within this area, we have a great opportunity to take the first step forward today through the adoption of a number of energy-related amendments that I have offered. I filed three amendments that would help us seize on the historic opportunities within our reach. I hope the Senate would agree to adjust the resolution before us to reflect their beneficial impact.

The first amendment that I have introduced is cosponsored by the Senator from Missouri, Mr. Blunt. It would raise an estimated $3.1 billion--not through taxes but by facilitating new energy production on Federal lands and waters that are currently not open to development.

It is worth noting that the $3.1 billion estimate is probably far too low. Almost certainly that number does not account for the substantial receipts that would result from a good plan to boost Federal production offshore and onshore in Alaska and across the continental United States. But for this amendment, we relied on the Congressional Budget Office estimates for receipts that we already know we can raise. If we were to take action today, we will also generate far greater receipts in the years ahead. CBO doesn't assume that production will begin within its 10-year window, but it has acknowledged that Federal receipts will grow tremendously by several billion dollars a year once it does.

Some Members might question why this amendment is even necessary at all. They know that oil and natural gas production is rising in this country. After watching a few campaign ads, listening to a few speeches, they might think that everything is fine right now. But that is hardly the case. While overall production has in fact risen, the entirety of that increase has been from State and private lands. Production on our Federal lands and waters--the only area that the Federal Government is responsible for managing--has actually fallen.

According to the Congressional Research Service, oil production on Federal lands is down 6 percent since 2009 while natural gas production is down 21 percent. Just as worrisome, the pace of permitting--which is a key indicator for future production--has also slowed.

The Senator from Missouri and I believe it is time to produce more of our prolific resources beneath our Federal lands and waters. We need the jobs, we need to reduce our deficits, we need to keep energy prices down, and we need to break our dependence on foreign oil. New production will help us accomplish all of those crucial goals, and there is no real downside.

My second amendment is focused on increasing oil production on Federal lands in Alaska. Right now, no production is occurring on those lands. That is the case even though we have more than 200 million acres of Federal land and close to 40 billion barrels of conventional oil just waiting to be produced. The cause, of course, is the Federal Government continues to deny, delay, and generally up-end anyone who tries to bring energy to the market. The consequences are now apparent for all to see.

In 1988, Alaska produced more than 2 million barrels of oil per day. Last year, they had fallen all the way down to 526,000 barrels per day, and it is forecasted to drop even further in the years ahead. In Alaska, we are treating this as an emergency, and the Senate should as well. If our production continues to decline, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline system could be shut down. Our Nation could lose a substantial share of its oil supply. Jobs will be lost, energy prices will rise, our dependence on foreign oil will deepen, sapping our economy and progress that we have made.

These consequences and others that would manifest must be avoided--can be avoided--and it is within our power to do that. Alaska doesn't need subsidies or loans or grants or tax credits. What we need is permission to produce. We need the Federal Government to work with us, not against us. We need access to our National Petroleum Reserve. We need access to that tiny dot of land in the nonwilderness portion of the Coastal Plains. We also need to be able to explore new areas where resources have not yet been discovered.

My amendment is simple. It would modify the budget resolution to account for substantial receipts--about $2.5 billion--from increased oil in Alaska. As with the amendment that Senator Blunt and I have cosponsored, this estimate is probably too low. We anticipate that receipts would grow tremendously once production begins. We always talk about the need for an ``all of the above'' policy. That would allow for it.

I have one final amendment that I would speak to briefly, and this is one that would facilitate the creation of an advanced energy trust fund. This was part of my energy 2020 blueprint that I released earlier this year. It is specifically designed to help create an energy policy that pays for itself. It would open new lands that are not currently available for development and devote a share of the receipts to energy research.

This concept has gotten pretty broad support, notably from the think tanks, and even more notably from the President himself. But I would be remiss if I didn't point out why my plan works and why the President's does not. While I would raise new receipts from new production, the President would divert revenues from production that is already scheduled to occur.

The result of his plan would be either deficit spending or, most likely, tax hikes elsewhere in the budget. Neither of those would be acceptable to us, particularly when we know there is a better path forward.

My amendments offer us an opportunity to create jobs, to make energy more affordable, to reduce our debt, to break our dependence on foreign oil. That is in the best interests of a coherent energy policy that so many of us are working to develop and certainly in the best interests of our Nation's budget. I encourage my colleagues to take a look at these amendments and, should they be brought before us for a vote, to join me in support of them.

I yield the floor.


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