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United States

Republican senator urges scrapping clean energy subsidies

UNITED STATES: The top Republican on the US Senate energy committee has laid out her energy priorities with the release of a sweeping blueprint that calls for a shift away from federal clean energy subsidies.

Repbulican senator Lisa Murkowski
Repbulican senator Lisa Murkowski

Lisa Murkowski of Alaska fired the first energy-related volley of the new Congress on Monday, unveiling a 121-page report that features around 200 policy recommendations, ranging from expanding oil drilling to expediting liquefied natural gas exports. Renewables, it says, must be freed from "boom-and-bust" cycles caused by changes in government policy.

"By 2020, we need to eliminate most of the government's current subsidies and implement a new system of clean energy finance that is cost-effective, technology-neutral and conducive to private investment," says the report.

The report proposes changes that would allow wind and solar companies to take advantage of the same sort of financing mechanisms that oil and gas projects enjoy, including master limited partnerships (MLPs). However, analysts have previously warned that MLPs are likely to be of little effect in the renewable energy market.

Murkowski rejects the idea of a federal clean energy standard and proposes the government "focus its attention and limited resources" on bolstering research into areas such as energy storage.

The government, it says, should steer some revenues from expanded oil-and-gas development into a new "advanced energy trust fund" to finance clean energy research. Upgrading transmission and accelerating permitting of offshore wind are also among its proposals.

Her report, says Murkowski, is intended to be "a source of ideas" for a series of energy bills the committee could pursue.

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