Murkowski to release 'comprehensive' energy blueprint next week

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Wednesday that she plans to drop a “very comprehensive” energy blueprint next week — though it is unlikely to include proposals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Murkowski, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said she has consulted the committee’s GOP members for the document. She will not present it in legislative language, saying the plan is a “foundation” with items that lawmakers could cherry-pick for individual bills.

“It’s time to get this out, it’s time for the discussion to begin,” Murkowski said in a pen-and-pad briefing with reporters. “It’s pretty much the full meal deal.”

Murkowski said the bill would include ideas on how to produce more and use less energy, as well as upgrade electrical transmission, among other concepts.

What it likely won’t include is a proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions, as she said Republicans would oppose efforts that would increase energy prices.

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She added that President Obama’s inaugural comments on climate and the resulting discourse on the issue caught her by surprise.

“Quite honestly, up until the president’s statement on Monday, I did not think that we would be having this level of focus on the issue,” Murkowski said.

Obama devoted a sizable portion of his speech to tackling climate change, to the delight of congressional Democrats and green groups.

But Murkowski said climate efforts such as cap-and-trade or carbon tax bills would likely hit a dead end in Congress. Republicans in both the House and the Senate have voiced considerable opposition to such concepts, essentially closing the legislative avenue in the opening weeks of the new Congress.

With that said, Murkowski said Obama would probably pursue emissions reductions through regulation.

In his first term, Obama moved to impose the first-ever emissions limits on new coal-fired power plants and finalized more stringent vehicle fuel efficiency standards, among other efforts. Attempts to block such rules by Republicans in both chambers failed last year.

“Moving forward, I think what you may see is a continuation of what we’ve seen in the past, which is essentially setting climate policy or direction through implementation of regulations. I don’t like that — I’ll be very honest with you. If we are directing climate policy, I think that has to be done with regulation,” she said.