Brouillette Pledges Support For “All-of-the-Above” American Energy Portfolio During Confirmation Hearing
On Thursday, while a House committee continued impeachment hearings, the Senate Energy Committee considered another matter: Dan Brouillette’s nomination to serve as Secretary of Energy. Brouillette’s nomination earned the support of a broad range of leaders from both parties and from across the country.
At the hearing, Brouillette praised the growth of America’s domestic energy industry and spoke of ways to expand this innovation into new areas.
“This is an exciting time. This country is a leading energy producer as Senator [Ted] Cruz (R-Texas) has mentioned and really a disruptor of world markets,” he said.
“We are now sending oil and LNG around the world, we’re providing our friends and allies with energy while creating jobs and prosperity here at home. We are on the cutting edge of a number of exciting technologies like advanced nuclear energy, carbon capture, and energy storage,” Brouillette added.
The nominee brings decades of experience in both the public and private sector. Before accepting the position of deputy secretary of energy Brouillette worked in the private sector for Ford and USAA, and served as Chief of Staff to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Assistant Secretary of Energy for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, and as a state energy regulator in Louisiana.
As Secretary of Energy, he will oversee a broad portfolio including national research labs, setting standards for energy affordability and efficiency, and overseeing America’s nuclear weapons stockpile. While expressing support for America’s burgeoning oil and natural gas industry, Brouillette also committed the department to continuing investment in developing and implementing technology to reduce or capture carbon emissions and improvements to renewable energy.
He stressed that with global groups projecting energy use to increase roughly 1% per year, it made sense for both for the U.S. to export natural gas to Asia and Africa, and to pair these exports with carbon capture technology.
Although some of this technology has been developed, it is not yet commercially viable.
“If we care about the carbon impact, we need to get these technologies off of the shelf and into the market,” Brouillette said, adding that this technology would become increasingly crucial as India, China, and countries in Africa continue to build coal plants of their own to electrify their countrysides.
“When we look at what is happening worldwide, we need to get these technologies developed and deployed,” Brouillette continued. “Despite what some might believe, the United States cannot tackle climate change alone.”
While the committee largely focused on Brouillette’s plans for the future of the Department of Energy, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed the nominee about whether he was aware of outgoing Energy Sec. Rick Perry’s communications with Ukrainian officials, something that came up in relation to the impeachment proceedings against President Trump.
“It’s been reported that while you were deputy secretary of energy, the secretary communicated with high level Ukrainian officials, and at the president’s direction with Rudy Giuliani, his personal attorney, about Ukraine-related matters,” said Wyden.
“The press reports also indicate that Perry pushed the Ukrainian government to make changes to the board of Naftogaz, a Ukrainian-state-owned natural gas company,” Wyden continued, adding that these conversations led to changes in the Naftogaz board.
Brouillette responded that while he was aware that Perry did “from time to time” meet with individuals seeking assistance in restructuring state-owned energy enterprises. He added that he was not personally present at the meetings.
“Naftogaz was a vertically integrated company. In order for them to interconnect with the EU, [the Department of Energy] had conversations about their structure,” he said. “I am not aware of any conversation that [Perry] had with Giuliani or members of the Ukrainian government about the board or the advisory board that is associated with Naftogaz.”
Wyden’s questioning was an anomaly in the hearing, which otherwise focused on domestic energy issues of interest to different members of the committee.
At the conclusion of the hearing, committee chair Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) pledged to work to push for the confirmation vote to take place quickly to ensure a smooth transition when Perry steps down on December 1st.