Murkowski says Biden needs to take firm action to increase energy production: 'Let's not just talk'

Murkowski says Biden needs to take firm action to increase energy production: ‘Let’s not just talk’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talked about the Biden administration’s approach to the oil and gas industry Friday, March 11, 2022, at Houston’s CERAWeek conference.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Friday there are "important" indicators coming from the Biden administration that it may be open to relaxing its energy policies – but that it needs to follow through for there to be a real boost in production.

"A statement from the Energy Secretary saying produce more right now is a good first step," Murkowski said. "But they need to remember that the reason… we're not producing more right now is because this administration has sent the wrong signal for a year and three months. They've sent a signal that is exactly contrary to that."

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Murkowski added: "And so if you're the investor, if you're the producer, you're looking at this and saying alright, "Is this… just one secretary who made a statement today? I mean, if I move out on this, are they really gonna get a stick with the program here? How risky is this?'"

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, speaks during the 2022 CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston, Friday, March 11, 2022. (F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Murkowski was referring to a comment from Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Wednesday at the CERAWeek by S&P Global energy conference. 

In her remarks, Granholm said that the U.S. is on a "war footing" on energy because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and spiking energy prices. She asked the conference ballroom full of energy executives to "start producing more right now." 

"In this moment of crisis, we need more supply," Granholm said. 

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That tone led to cautious optimism among some energy industry experts that the Biden administration might shift toward policy that's more permissive of energy development in the United States. But Murkowski said that one speech can't make up for more than a year of policy. 

And she added – getting increasingly animated – that the administration needs to provide stability for industry to develop over the long term. 

"They've not only got to change the message, they've got to give that certainty… that this is actually going to be in place," she said.

"The president needs to get up there, and not only say it, but then direct his secretary of the interior: Where's that five-year plan? Direct Secretary Granholm: Get these LNG export permits out the door," Murkowski said. "Let's move on this. So let's just not talk at an energy conference."

Oil well equipment on the Forth Berthold Indian Reservation near New Town, North Dakota. (Tyler Olson/FOX Business)

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Murkowski also took an apparent swipe at White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who earlier this week questioned why there are thousands of unused oil and gas permits if there is indeed a desire for more oil production. 

"Reality check here for those who are not familiar with…how you produce oil: Just because you have a lease doesn't mean there is oil under this floor," she said. "Maybe they've got the permit, but maybe there's nothing there. There's probably a good reason that they're not moving forward. Or maybe the good reason is that the next permit has not been issued by the department."

President Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, March 15, 2021, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky / AP Images)

"Or maybe they have just decided that even though something has gone through the process… they need to reopen it again. We need to look at it afresh. So there's a lot that they can do," the senator added. 

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The CERAWeek conference came at a key time, about two weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine started. That shifted much of the discussion away from moving to alternative energy to energy security, even if that means fossil fuels. 

"I think the word is ‘transition,’ and transitions unfold over a long period of time," IHS Markit vice chairman and CERAWeek host Daniel Yergin told FOX Business about the lesson from the conference. 

He added: "The notion that you can get everything done in 28 years and half of it in eight years, you're forgetting that this is a $90 trillion world economy that gets 80% of its energy from hydrocarbons."

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