Murkowski Secures Funding for Water Projects and Energy Innovation

Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — The U.S. Senate passed the first funding bill of the year, the FY17 Energy and Water Appropriations bill in a vote of 90-8. This is the first time since 2009 the U.S. Senate has passed this appropriations measure on the floor as a standalone bill under regular order. The measure will fund U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) programs and critical infrastructure projects administered by the Army Corps of Engineers.

As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) secured a number of provisions to address Alaska’s unique infrastructure needs and promote an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy production.

Murkowski successfully inserted an amendment (attached), supported by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), that would expand the language of the Remote and Subsistence Harbors provision to take into account not only local needs, but also regional impacts and effects. When it comes to conducting a study of harbor and navigation improvements, this provision directs the Secretary to take into account the long-term viability, social and cultural value, and welfare of not only the community in which the project is located but communities located in the region that would be served by the project—allowing for the potential for more harbors in rural Alaska.

“Alaska faces unique transportation and energy challenges—whether it be due to our state’s vast size, remoteness, difficult terrain, or harsh climate. The provisions contained in this bill will bring to Alaska much-needed investments in infrastructure and energy innovation,” said Murkowski. “I am especially pleased to have secured an amendment to provide greater flexibility to develop remote and subsistence harbors, which will be beneficial in Alaska’s coastal communities as access to the Arctic increases.”

In addition to the Remote and Subsistence Harbors amendment, Murkowski secured the following priorities for Alaska:

Improving Alaska’s Infrastructure

  • Arctic Deep Draft Port Study:
    • Secured report language encouraging the Army Corps of Engineers to continue to thoroughly evaluate the proposed deep draft port in Nome, taking into account the wide range of economic benefits the project would bring to the region.
  • Harbors:
    • $7 million in the Section 107 Continuing Authorities Program for the Corps of Engineers to improve navigation, including dredging.
  • Corps of Engineers Operations and Maintenance Funding:
    • $11.8 million for Anchorage Harbor
    • $9.6 million for Chena River Lakes
    • $200,000 for Chignik Harbor
    • $1 million for Dillingham Harbor
    • $462,000 for Homer Harbor
    • $3.1 million for Ketchikan, Thomas Basin
    • $591,000 for Lowell Creek Tunnel (Seward)
    • $345,000 for Ninilchik Harbor
    • $2.9 million for Nome Harbor
  • Denali Commission: $15 million for the Commission tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska.

Spurring Energy Development and Affordability

  • Weatherization Assistance Program: $264 to improve the energy efficiency of low-income families’ homes.
  • State Energy Program: $50 million to invest in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and emergency preparedness.
  • Denali Commission: $15 million for the Commission tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska.
  • Office of Indian Energy: $20 million for the initiative that assists tribes with energy needs and projects on their lands.
  • Methane Hydrates: $19.8 million to further research the production of natural gas from methane hydrates. Alaska’s Arctic contains an estimated 32,600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas locked in ice crystals – enough energy to power the entire nation for 1,000 years.
  • Water Power: Secured report language ensuring fairness in hydro power, including marine hydrokinetic power.

FERC Rates: Added report language to protect Alaskans from electricity rate hikes by directing FERC to reopen a rulemaking for land use fees for Alaska hydropower projects, which could otherwise result in unreasonable increases averaging 71 percent and reaching as high as 679 percent.

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