Murkowski: Outlook Hearing Vital to Efforts to Modernize Energy Policies

January 19, 2016
05:00 PM

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today underscored the importance of understanding world energy and commodity markets and the complex interplay of our nation’s energy mix as the Committee works to shape energy and mineral policy. 

“There are few commodities that are more foundational to the health of our economy than energy and minerals. Most Americans are familiar with gasoline prices and their electricity bills, but it is our responsibility as Senators on this committee to do our best to understand the complex interplay of our nation’s energy mix, and the influences that drive key energy and resource indicators,” Murkowski said. “It is fitting that we hold this hearing, on the broad energy outlook, shortly before the full Senate is expected to turn to our broad energy bill. It is my hope that we will gather critical current information to inform our thinking before we head to the Senate floor to begin that debate.”

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, sought input from witnesses testifying at today’s hearing on the future of the global oil markets now that Iran has the ability to export its oil as a result of the administration’s Iran deal.

“The current discussion that we are having on Iran is so galling. Alaska has enormous potential when it comes to the production of oil and natural gas. It makes no sense that we as a country would lift sanctions on Iran while at the same time continuing to block domestic energy exploration right here at home,” Murkowski said.

Mr. Adam Sieminski, Administrator at the U.S. Energy Information Administration, addressed the effect of Iranian oil’s entering global energy markets by saying “we’re back to that observation that the uncertainty in crude oil prices as we look out over the next year or two is very high.”

Mr. Antoine Halff, Program Director of Global Energy Markets at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, agreed and cited the fact that very little information is available on Iran’s oil supply and production capabilities.

“The bottom line is nobody knows exactly how much they [Iran] can produce today,” Halff said. “Iranian leaders have made conflicting statements over the last few months. They have said that they wanted to ramp up production immediately but they’ve also said that they don’t want to crush the market. They don’t want to flood the market too quickly with too much oil and cause the price of oil to fall even further.”

Murkowski concluded today’s hearing highlighting the need to update our nation’s energy policies, explaining that the energy landscape has changed drastically due to new technologies and significant gains in our nation’s energy production.

Calling it an “imperative” for our nation’s economy, national security, and energy security, Murkowski cited the broad, bipartisan energy legislation she developed with Sen. Cantwell, D-Wash., as a positive step toward updating our nation’s energy policies so that America can fully realize its energy potential.