Sen. Murkowski holds hearing on COVID-19 impacts on energy sector

Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 3:44 PM AKDT
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Alaska’s senator along with other lawmakers are looking for ways to help the energy industry that’s been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska), chaired a hearing to examine the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S. energy industry.

“The decline in demand can be found just about everywhere. Less flying means less jet fuel. Less driving means less gasoline and diesel. Less commercial activity means less electricity. Less consumption means less production. Less investment today means less development tomorrow,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said.

Alaska has already lost about 1,000 jobs in the oil and gas industry since March, according to Neal Fried, an economist with the State of Alaska.

A total of 1.3 million energy jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic. A new report released last week shows the renewable energy sector has lost about 600,000 jobs.

Sen. Murkowski said the energy sector has “suffered acutely and uniquely,” adding that her energy bill, the American Innovation Act would spur investment in the sector.

“For a producing state like Alaska, ‘less production’ and ‘less investment’ and ‘less development’ are ominous signs on the horizon. That is why I hope, truly, that demand has been paused rather than destroyed,” she said.

The cuts are being driven by a lack of demand for gasoline and jet fuel.

“Put simply, the COVID-19 pandemic has created the biggest shock to global energy systems since at least World War II,” David Turk, acting deputy executive director at the International Energy Agency told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

IEA estimates that global energy demand will fall 6 percent in 2020, the equivalent of losing the entire demand of India. The organization predicts a 9% drop in energy demand in the United States and 11% in the European Union.

Oil demand is expected to drop 8.2% globally, the largest in history. Coal demand will also fall 8% and electricity demand is forecast to fall 5%.

“Renewables have been the most resilient of all the fuels so far, and the only energy source that we expect to grow in 2020. Although I should say at much lower levels than we forecast before the crisis,” Turk said.

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