Alaska Senator Bares Plans for US Oil Independence

Alaska is the third largest energy producer in the U.S. today, based on statistics from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Therefore, it isn’t much of a surprise if Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski comes out with an extensive report outlining programs that may help the U.S. benefit fully from its vast energy resource.

The report essentially touched on key points that would boost U.S. chances of achieving energy self-sufficiency and curb its reliance on OPEC oil. She said that the current administration should allow for more oil and gas exploration in new regions, facilitate issuance of permits and licenses, support shale and other fuel resources, and give the Keystone pipeline project the long-overdue go signal.

According to the Republican senator, all those involved in U.S. energy policymaking must realize that energy is no longer scant. It is a resource that will keep on growing in abundance if only policymakers would come up with more appropriate regulations.

The senator is aware that the programs could bring about disagreements, especially from the Democrats who are quite vocal about their resistance to expanded oil and gas exploration.  However, she is hopeful that her report would pave the way for more fruitful and continuing discussions about U.S. energy policies, including explorations in the Arctic Refuge and off the Atlantic shores.

Sure enough, a group of environmentalists expressed disappointment over Murkowski’s proposals. According to the group, the plans will just get in the way of U.S. efforts towards effective use of alternative energy.

The report also touched on the country’s crude oil reserves. She suggests that the current administration set some rules that restrict tapping on so-called strategic reserves solely to correct any surge in crude oil prices. It may be recalled that a good number of Republicans have criticized the President’s decision to tap U.S. oil reserves during the 2011 crisis in Libya.

However, she supports gas exportations to U.S.-allied countries even in the absence of a trade contract. This applies if the importing country is facing serious fuel shortages, such as the one experienced by Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

Meanwhile, Murkowski said that, while her report proposes ways to lessen carbon emissions, imposition of a carbon tax may not be one of them.