The Energy Implications of Murkowski’s Ouster
As you probably all know by now, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) conceded last night in her reelection battle for U.S. Senate, paving the way for her opponent, Tea Party-backed lawyer Joe Miller, to win the seat in November.
At least in terms of energy policy, the news isn’t that Miller won, but that Murkowski lost. She is a key player in energy policy in the Senate, often working very closely with Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on legislation. The two lawmakers worked for months on a compromise energy bill, which passed the committee last year and will likely serve as the basis for broad energy legislation (if the Senate ever takes it up).
But Murkowski was also a vocal opponent of many proposals to address climate change, including the bill developed this year by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). She also authored a resolution (which failed) that would have in effect blocked the Obama administration from regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
Now that Murkowski’s fate is sealed, there will likely be a lot of shuffling on the energy committee. The question going forward is this: will the committee’s new ranking Republican be willing to rally his or her fellow lawmakers to compromise with Democrats to pass energy legislation?