Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is a winner. She was the first write-in candidate in more than 50 years to win her party's nomination last year. The last politician to win on a write-in ballot initiative was Rep. Strom Thurmond (R-SC). To political junkies, her "Lisa" grassroots organization and inspired primary challenge is one of the best victories in memory. Quick, what's the name of the Tea Party Candidate who had won more total Republican votes? Joe, somebody.*
I traveled to Alaska this summer on a Boy Scout Crew High Adventure in the Denali National Park. We hiked 25 miles along a ridge across from Mt. McKinley. Then we canoed down the Yukon River over 150 miles. The point is that in every remote town, from Healy, to Chicken, to Eagle, Alaska all had yard signs or banners with a single name "Lisa."
So her keynote speech at the Renewable Energy Technology show this week, RETECH, in Washington, DC was noteworthy. And her message clear: Oil, Gas, and Renewables can peacefully co-exist. The Keystone XL pipeline can move natural gas from Alaska to Texas. Offshore wind farms and Alaska's massive ocean coastline can produce power for export.
The U.S. government will still support those who are trying to create change for the country rather than make them pay more money to receive permits, she said. "So, now, the biggest question: Is it possible to ensure a steady stream of funding for renewable energy?" asked Sen. Murkowski. "My answer is 'yes' -- absolutely. Again, I support an 'all of the above' approach to energy policy. I look at forecasts and see that our nation now imports about nine million barrels of oil per day, and that 25 years from now, that number is projected to be largely unchanged. Think about that: eight or nine million barrels a day, at $100 a barrel or perhaps higher, for the next quarter century. That will cost our nation trillions of dollars that we can't spare, and the truth is, we have resources right here at home to dramatically reduce those costs," said Senator Murkowski. (Full statement here: http://murkowski.senate.gov)
While we would expect wind energy credits to continue in this Congress, within three years 70% of DOE grants and U.S. government support for renewable energy will expire, and that means capital markets must invest and people adopt a higher priced product for consumption. As Sen. Murkowski stated: "I urge your industry to prepare for a time when federal funding is greatly restricted. If Plan A is the government, events like this (www.retech2011.com) provide a perfect opportunity to develop a strong Plan B, where you can form new partnerships and focus on building-up your supply chains with less help from the government."
Sen. Murkowski called for an independent Clean Energy Deployment Administration that she said would completely take out the politics of energy and only include technical expertise that examines best alternative fuel sources. She concluded, "clearly, it's against our interest to focus on sources of energy that will depend on continuous, long-term subsidization."
Zeina Al-Khalaf, a graduating senior at George Mason University, contributed to this story