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Murkowski Outlines Senate Energy Plan

In the GOP weekly address, Sen. Murkowski describes the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which includes liquid natural gas (LNG) exports. Looks like it is still on the Senate calendar this week…although it may slip.

On LNG exports, the bill requires the Energy Secretary to approve or disapprove LNG export applications within 45 days, so the applications don’t linger. That’s for nations that don’t already have free trade agreements with us, since most free trade agreements already address expedited LNG exports. It also puts federal energy regulatory commission (FERC) in control of all federal LNG authorizations.

The bill authorizes a new “e-prize” competition, which is basically an x-prize for energy. I’m seeing more and more of these x-prizes in public policy.

The section on nuclear power misses the opportunity to promote molten salt reactors, a nice byproduct of a robust rare earth element policy…but it does call for more nuclear reactor fusion and fission reactor prototypes, so that might encompass molten salt even if it isn’t listed specifically.

There are a ton of repeals and program eliminations, which is a good sign of conservative legislation.

  • Repeal of the methanol study.
  • Repeal of the weatherization study.
  • Repeal of various DOE programs.

Unfortunately, it also reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is bad public policy.

Critical Minerals Policy Act – NCPA Letter

The letter to Senators Landrieu and Murkowski from the NCPA:

The problem of Chinese dominance in the rare earths market cannot be overstated, given the United States’ — and in fact, the globe’s — significant reliance on rare earths for practically all modern technology. Computers, calculators, flat screen televisions, wind turbines, fuel cells, LED lights, electric car batteries — not to mention defense weapons, medical equipment, and even cancer drugs — all require rare earths to operate. The world’s demand for these minerals is only increasing. A disruption in supply could be incredibly problematic, and China has already cut its rare earths export quota significantly.

The United States need not, however, be reliant on other countries for our rare earths’ needs. Despite its production dominance, China holds only 36 percent of the globe’s rare earths reserves, while the United States actually has 13 percent of the world’s supply. Our problem is not a lack of minerals, but an unnecessarily cumbersome permitting process marked by confusion and duplication. As the 2013 report from Behre Dolbear on where not to invest in mining noted, “Permitting delays are the most significant risk to mining projects in the United States.”

The letter continues…


The American Energy Renaissance Act

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently proposed legislation that would harness America’s abundant energy reserves, not only supplying much-needed energy, but also spurring economic growth. This bill, named the American Energy Renaissance Act, is a two part plan with several steps that would halt harmful regulations and barriers to trade and development and expand energy exploration and infrastructure development.

This bill would leave the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the hands of the states. It would also allow the states to lease, permit, and regulate energy resources on federal lands within their borders. A key provision in this bill develops energy infrastructure by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, and other national and cross-border pipelines, to be built by the private sector. It would open for energy development federal lands such as the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska and the Coastal Plain of Alaska (ANWR). Finally, it would expand liquefied natural gas exports by facilitating permits and would also end the crude oil export ban.

Senator Cruz’s bill was inspired by the economic boom spurred by the oil and gas industry in North Dakota where the average hourly wage in the industry is $45.90 an hour. The state’s unemployment rate has fallen to 2.6 percent. Allowing the rest of the nation to follow suit would create jobs in the private sector, decrease unemployment, increase national revenue, and give America energy self-sufficiency.

The Critical Minerals Policy Act

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on January 28th about Senator Lisa Murkowski’s bill, the Critical Minerals Policy Act. Here’s a brief summary: