Energy Bill Says Murkowski
April 30, 2004
The Senate Thursday supported passage of most of the comprehensive energy bill - the non-tax provisions of the energy bill -- by a vote of 55-43, but the measure needed 60 votes to overcome a continuing filibuster against most any legislation in the Senate. The Senate next week likely will take up the tax provisions, including most of the financial incentives for an Alaska gas line, as part of a Senate jobs bill.
"While it is mildly disappointing that the Senate could not quickly approve this version of the energy bill, this vote clearly shows that the majority of the Senate understands the need for passage of legislation to increase this country's supplies of petroleum, natural gas and other energy sources from coal to renewable energy. At a time of record high prices for gasoline and for natural gas and with the summer driving season just starting the pressure will only build for passage of an energy bill this year to address this nation's urgent need for energy," said Murkowski.
She said the vote was not indicative of the Senate's view of the need for energy legislation since a host of procedural concerns continue to cloud the Senate and prevent it from making headway on its agenda for the year. She said she hopes the partisan gridlock will break next week when the Senate returns to consideration of its jobs bill, formally the Foreign Corporation Sales/Extra Territorial Income (FSC/ETI) bill. That bill includes $13 billion of energy tax breaks including three tax incentives to aid construction of an Alaska gas line project: a marginal well credit to offset unlikely low natural gas prices, accelerated tax depreciation for segments of an Alaska gas line and a tax deduction for construction of a needed North Slope gas conditioning plant.
Thursday's amendment to an Internet access tax moratorium bill included the rest of the authorizing provisions to aid construction of an Alaska gas line: a streamlined permitting process, accelerated court review, a prohibition against an "over-the-top" pipeline route, $20 million of funding for an Alaska worker training program, including funding for a Fairbanks training center, and provisions to encourage use of American pipe in the project.
The amendment to the Internet bill, formally introduced by Chairman Pete Domenici, R- N.M., chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also included the rest of Alaska energy provisions proposed to the energy bill by Sen. Murkowski. Those provisions included: $500 million for rural energy assistance in Alaska, $35 million for the state's Power Cost Equalization program, funding of a coastal zone impact assistance program, improved leasing and access for oil development in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a low-cost $125 million loan for the Healy Clean Coal plant, an Arctic Engineering initiative at the University of Alaska, an exemption for Alaska from ethanol provisions and funding for a Barrow Geophysical research facility.
Murkowski said she remains
committed to using every possible means to win passage of the
gas line incentives and the other energy provisions this year.
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