Committee Focuses on Links Between Energy Innovation, Economic Growth, and Competitiveness

July 25, 2019

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today chaired a hearing to examine the importance of energy innovation to economic growth and our country’s long-term competitiveness.

Murkowski opened the hearing by outlining the broad importance of innovation to our success as a nation.

“Whether we are looking to bolster our energy supply or reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, innovation will need to be front and center and recognized as our best solution,” Murkowski said. “In Alaska, we have already seen how new, innovative technologies can reduce our reliance on costly diesel fuel, but we have the potential for so much more. New technologies, whether renewables or microreactors, will be able to make a real difference in local economies and the lives of many Alaskans.”   

Murkowski also highlighted rural innovation, which can deliver big benefits for small communities.

“As we consider energy innovation, we want to place special emphasis on our rural areas,” Murkowski said. “We up North have always been innovators, and we don’t just do it because we have to, but because we’re pioneers – we like breaking new trail.”

Isaac Vanderburg, the CEO of Launch Alaska, testified about the potential for increased investment in research and development efforts in Alaska, and why that makes sense from both a public and private sector perspective.

Murkowski and VanderburgMurkowski and Vanderburg

“Alaska’s high cost of energy and harsh environment offers an ideal deployment ground for startups to partner with communities, validate their technology, and scale to large global markets,” Vanderburg said. “This approach to energy innovation can support sustained economic growth and competitiveness for communities throughout the U.S. while also rising to the challenges posed by climate change.”

Among the ideas endorsed by Vanderburg is the restoration and modernization of the Arctic Energy Office at the Department of Energy, which is statutorily authorized but was largely disbanded by the previous administration.  

The hearing also featured testimony from Dr. Brian Anderson, the Director of the National Energy Technology Laboratory; Dr. John Deskins of West Virginia University’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research; Dr. David Hart of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; and Lee Ragsdale, Jr. of the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives.

Murkowski is chairman of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. An archived video of today’s hearing can be found on the committee’s website. Click here, here, here and here to view Murkowski’s questions for the witnesses.