Working together on energy
In today’s polarizing political climate, it may seem like there are few issues Republicans and Democrats can work together on. But on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we are proving that is not the case. As the Republican Chairman and an active Democratic member of this Committee, we have found many ways we can work in a bipartisan manner to improve our nation’s energy policy.
It doesn’t hurt that our home states are longtime leaders on energy production — in fact, Alaska and West Virginia have a lot in common when it comes to powering our nation. That gives us common ground as we approach our work on the Committee. We both recognize the importance of an all-of-the-above energy portfolio and much of our work together is with that goal in mind. This has enabled us to secure passage of legislation to prioritize the advancement of clean coal technologies, open up a small portion of the Arctic Coastal Plain to responsible development, seek improvements to reverse our growing dependence on foreign minerals, and promote hydropower projects in both our states.
In 2016, the Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act following months of bipartisan effort on the Committee. This comprehensive legislation included provisions to modernize our nation’s coal technology program and designate clean coal R&D as an official priority at the Department of Energy. The bill also sought to improve the way that we expand our nation’s energy infrastructure — a critical effort that will help ensure West Virginia is producing our vast natural gas resources in a responsible manner.
These measures are very important to the future of West Virginia’s energy economy and would not have been possible without Senator Murkowski’s leadership.
In December 2017, the Senate passed historic legislation to open a small portion of the non-wilderness 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for responsible energy development. This will allow Alaskans to further develop their resources, create thousands of jobs, generate billions of dollars in revenue to lower our deficits, and provide greater energy security for our nation for decades to come. This is monumental for the state of Alaska and it would not have been possible without Senator Manchin’s support.
Another area where we have worked closely together is to improve our nation’s mineral security. Earlier this year we offered a joint amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to increase geological surveying, reform the broken federal permitting process, and invest in a robust workforce that will keep our mines operating safely. Mineral security is a growing problem for our nation. We import 50 percent of at least 50 mineral commodities each year, including 100 percent of 21 of them, and it is an area ripe for bipartisan cooperation.
Both Alaska and West Virginia are also home to important hydropower projects. This summer we worked together to ensure our amendment to protect these projects and make greater use of America’s hydropower resources passed the Senate. Our amendment ensured greater certainty for projects like Terror Lake in Alaska and the Jennings-Randolph Dam in West Virginia. These projects provide reliable, renewable, and affordable energy to surrounding communities.
Ensuring West Virginia, Alaska, and every state in the country have reliable and affordable power is not a Democratic or Republican issue. And we prove that every day as we work together to ensure our states are able to produce the energy and minerals that the rest of the country relies on to power their lives. We will continue to do what is best for West Virginia and Alaska as we work together on energy policy for our nation.
Manchin is a Democrat senator from West Virginia. Murkowski is a Republican senator from Alaska.