An energy blueprint released on Monday by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, calls for complete independence from OPEC oil by 2020.

This could be achieved by continuing to fund scientific research and demonstrations of advanced technologies “to reach a future in which ‘clean energy’ and ‘energy independence’ are more than just slogans,” she said. The Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future , which she calls “a blueprint for discussion,” also calls for reforms of permitting processes and review decisions for energy, natural resources, and infrastructure projects to reduce uncertainty, delay, and excessive litigation, while still meeting environmental standards.

It urges lawmakers to diversify coal use, facilitate exports, and reform regulations that inhibit improvements in the environmental performance of power plants. It also calls for an expansion of nuclear power, support for new technologies (including small modular reactors), and resolution of the pressing back-end issues of the fuel cycle.

A proponent of renewables, Murkowski’s blueprint calls for several measures on that front. It proposes to:

  • Redefine clean energy as “less intensive in global lifecycle impacts on human health and the environment than its likeliest alternative.” Implement this definition across all programs and policies.
  • Use the increased revenues that result from measures advocated in Energy 20/20 to create an Advanced Energy Trust Fund for clean energy research and to pay down the national debt.
  • Define hydropower as a renewable resource across all federal programs and initiatives.
  • Eliminate dependency on traditional government subsidies, supporting instead clean energy finance mechanisms that are technology-neutral, cost-effective, and conducive to private investment.
  • Make solar and wind power more cost-effective by increasing R&D of energy storage technologies.

Sources: POWERnews, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee