Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee favorably reported three pending nominations to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE): Mr. David Crane to be Under Secretary of Energy for Infrastructure, Mr. Jeffrey M. Marootian to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Mr. Gene Rodrigues to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.
Prior to the vote, Chairman Manchin noted that he appreciated Mr. Crane’s response to the record saying that he no longer agreed with his past statement that coal had “missed the boat” to decarbonize. Mr. Crane was reported favorably by a vote of 13 ayes and 7 nays, Mr. Marootian was reported favorably by a vote of 11 ayes to 9 nays and Mr. Rodrigues was reported favorably by voice vote.
Following the business meeting, committee members held a hearing on 17 pieces of legislation covering issues including nuclear waste, the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), carbon removal, public lands and water policy, and more. Chairman Manchin discussed the importance of finding an equitable, consent-based solution to storing and disposing of nuclear waste, and Chairman Manchin questioned Mr. Douglas MacIntyre, Deputy Director for the Office of Petroleum Reserves, about plans to replenish the SPR.
“Your evaluation of the sales that were mandated by Congress, was it to stabilize pricing or to fill a void?” continued Chairman Manchin.
“No sir it was for deficit reduction. Since we were at 700 million barrels, we sold a number of congressionally mandated sales. We had 180 million barrels of emergency sales this year as a result of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, so right now we are sitting at around 400 million barrels,” replied Mr. MacIntyre.
“Give me your plan, I think you have a little bit of an idea here,” said Chairman Manchin.
“So, as you said, we can’t fill and release from the same site at the same time. It doesn’t make sense for us to be releasing oil while we’re trying to refill the SPR from the emergency sales. So, we’re trying to create an opportunity in FY24 through FY27 to stop those sales, either delay them to further out, or cancel them and then do a recission on our account to make sure those pay fors are accounted for,” said Mr. MacIntyre.
Chairman Manchin also asked Mr. MacIntyre about the $2 billion in identified damage to SPR caverns and what DOE would need to complete the restoration. Mr. MacIntyre explained that Congress would need to pass legislation to allow DOE to use already appropriated funds for SPR cavern repair.
Chairman Manchin also questioned Dr. Kathryn Huff, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, about the nuclear energy supply chain.
“What are your concerns about Russia right now being able to put an awful lot of harm to our nuclear commercialization if they would cut off their uranium supply?” asked Chairman Manchin.
“Continued reliance on fuel, particularly conversion and enrichment from the Russian Federation, puts our energy supply chain at risk for the 20% of the electricity in this country that is provided by nuclear power. We are very concerned about making sure we can support strategic investments that will expand that domestic fuel cycle,” responded Dr. Huff.
The hearing featured witnesses from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management. To read their testimony, please click here.
To view a full list of legislation considered today, please click here.
To watch the hearing in full, please click here.