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Energy Committee Chairman Delivers Weekly Republican Address

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today highlighted Alaska’s energy priorities as she delivered the weekly Republican address to the nation. In her remarks, Murkowski sharply criticized the Obama administration’s actions to block energy production in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A), the non-wilderness portion of ANWR, and offshore, while bringing attention to the barrage of destructive regulations coming from the EPA.

“Since taking office, the Obama administration has repeatedly denied Alaska’s best opportunities to produce energy for our nation and the world. It has blocked production in half of our National Petroleum Reserve, which was specifically designated for energy development. It is locking away the non-wilderness portion of ANWR, where an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil could be produced from just 2,000 acres. In the Chukchi Sea, the constantly-shifting regulatory environment recently forced a company to abandon seven years of work and $7 billion in investment. And instead of recognizing that as a significant loss, the administration doubled down last week by canceling offshore lease sales in the region,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski’s address, part of her efforts to educate the American people about Alaskans’ needs and opportunities, played to a national audience in all 50 states. She explained to the country that the administration’s decisions have come despite strong opposition from the vast majority of Alaskans, and will have economic consequences felt long into the future.

“All of these decisions ignore the will of hard-working Alaskans, who overwhelmingly support new production. The administration is opening the door for Iranian oil production, but closing it on Alaskan oil. And while the consequences are not yet evident, they will be,” Murkowski said. “These decisions mean fewer jobs, less security for our country, and more of our dollars going overseas. They threaten the safe operation of our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a national security asset that is just one-third full. And it is only a matter of time until the administration applies this short-sighted strategy to the rest of our nation.”

Murkowski, as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, has written and advanced legislation to increase oil production on the North Slope and to stop overreaching federal regulations that will harm the state.

Murkowski noted that the anti-development decisions she highlighted in the address are only some of the instances where the Obama Administration is negatively impacting the health and prosperity of Alaskans: also on the list are the Interior Department’s decision to deny a life-saving road for the residents of King Cove; policies that continue to decimate the Southeast timber industry; unnecessary land management restrictions such as the “Areas of Critical Environmental Concern” proposed for northern Alaska; the proposed Stream Protection Rule that would put almost every Alaska placer miner out of work; and more.

Murkowski concluded the address by highlighting her commitment to bipartisan consensus on common sense solutions that will benefit Alaska. She specifically noted the strong bipartisan support that her broad energy bill – the Energy Policy Modernization Act – drew when it was reported by the Energy Committee earlier this year.

“Moving forward, Republicans hope that President Obama will work with Congress on policies that can draw bipartisan support. That’s the best way to help states like Alaska. And it’s the best way to protect our future – our economy, our security, and our environment,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski is the sponsor of S. 494, the Authorizing Alaska Production Act, which would open roughly 0.01% of the surface acreage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to responsible oil and gas production. She is also the sponsor of S. 2011, the Offshore Production for Energizing National Security Act, which would provide revenue sharing for offshore production and mandate offshore lease sales in Alaska. Murkowski is working hard to recruit additional support for both bills, and today’s address was the next step in those efforts.

The Weekly Republican Address is available in both audio and video format and is embargoed until 2 a.m. Alaska Standard Time/6 a.m. EST, Saturday, October 31, 2015. The audio of the address is available here, the video will be available here, and you may download the address here.

A full transcript of the address follows:

“Hi, I’m Lisa Murkowski. And I’m honored to represent Alaska in the U.S. Senate, where I chair the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“It’s been a pretty good week in Congress – with the House of Representatives welcoming a new speaker, Paul Ryan, and the Senate passing a major bill to protect our nation’s cyber security.

“What I want to talk with you about today, though, is another key national security issue – energy. And I want to highlight what is happening in my home state, because it foreshadows challenges to come all across our nation.

“Since taking office, the Obama Administration has repeatedly denied Alaska’s best opportunities to produce energy for our nation and the world.

“It has blocked production in half of our National Petroleum Reserve, which was specifically designated for energy development.

“It is locking away the non-wilderness portion of ANWR, where an estimated 10 billion barrels of oil could be produced from just 2,000 acres.

“In the Chukchi Sea, the constantly-shifting regulatory environment recently forced a company to abandon seven years of work and $7 billion in investment.

“And instead of recognizing that as a significant loss, the Administration doubled down last week by canceling offshore lease sales in the region.

“All of these decisions ignore the will of hard-working Alaskans, who overwhelmingly support new production. The Administration is opening the door for Iranian oil production, but closing it on Alaskan oil. And while the consequences are not yet evident, they will be.

"These decisions mean fewer jobs, less security for our country, and more of our dollars going overseas. They threaten the safe operation of our Trans-Alaska Pipeline, a national security asset that is just one-third full. And, it is only a matter of time until the Administration applies this short-sighted strategy to the rest of our nation.

“With prices low, we need to open the areas where it is most cost-effective to produce energy. We need to modernize our policies and open our markets. And we need to avoid overly burdensome regulations.

“Unfortunately, the Administration is charting a different course. The EPA and other agencies are issuing a barrage of regulations that will have limited environmental benefit, but will absolutely reduce our ability to produce energy here at home.

"For example, the EPA’s new ozone standards will provide little in the way of health benefits, while costing billions to comply

“Its climate regulations will shutter power plants across the country – raising electricity costs and threatening the reliability of our electric grid.

“And the ‘Waters of the United States’ rule, the WOTUS, a massive expansion of federal regulatory powers, could allow the EPA to regulate drainage ditches and occasional ponds.

“There is a better path. There is no reason why our energy policy should be so divisive. And that’s why I am working hard to forge bipartisan consensus on policies that will keep energy affordable and abundant, as it becomes cleaner and cleaner.

“To give you one promising example, those of us on the Energy Committee have developed a broad bill that will save energy, promote innovation, invest in critical infrastructure, and boost our energy trade – among many other benefits. It passed out of our Committee with a strong bipartisan vote. We have also gathered bipartisan support to end the outdated ban on crude oil exports.

“Moving forward, Republicans hope that President Obama will work with Congress on policies like these that can draw bipartisan support.

“That’s the best way to help states like Alaska. And it’s the best way to protect our future – our economy, our security, and our environment.

“Thanks so much for listening.”