U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday questioned President Obama’s nominees for the Department of Energy (DOE) on the department’s plans to increase American energy exports and expand opportunities for energy production in the Arctic. The nominees, Mr. Jonathan Elkind for Assistant Secretary of International Affairs and Dr. Monica Regalbuto for Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, appeared and were approved by the committee last Congress but neither nomination received a vote on the Senate floor.
“These are important positions within DOE, capable of affecting everything from our international relations to the cleanup of nuclear waste. Their nominations are helped by the fact that Secretary Moniz has shown himself to be someone who will work with us, and who we can work with, even if we don’t always agree with him,” Murkowski said. “I trust that if the nominees are confirmed, they will continue the positive relationship between the Department of Energy and our Committee.”
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked Elkind whether U.S. allies would “welcome the option to purchase American crude oil.” Elkind did not directly address the question, instead noting that the United States continues to import oil.
After the hearing, Murkowski explained that “While officials from DOE are consistent in their message about oil exports, their message is quite outdated. The United States is the only advanced nation that bans oil exports, and there is no legitimate reason why our imports should be used as an excuse to prevent exports. To do so would ignore the experiences of other importing nations, the efficiency of markets, and the benefits that exports will bring.”
Murkowski also used the hearing to call for greater cooperation across political and national boundaries and questioned Elkind on the DOE Office of International Affairs’ plans to engage other Arctic nations and promote opportunities in the region.
“When you look at international scientific information, you can see that the Arctic is this emerging area where it’s clear that we need to see greater cooperation. Many of the research needs in the region cross political borders. What level of cooperation does DOE have with other Arctic nations?” Murkowski asked Elkind.
Calling it a “very important time” to focus on the Arctic, Elkind confirmed that DOE is engaged with other Arctic nations and highlighted the importance of the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council.
A video of the Senate Energy Committee hearing can be found here