In separate hearings on April 28, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was questioned on her department’s proposed 2023 budget, by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Appropriations Committee’s energy subcommittee.
At $48.2 billion, the budget would increase by 21.7 percent from the enacted 2021 level. It envisions $2.1 billion to fund a new under secretary for infrastructure as well as $214 million for the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.
“The Investments proposed in the FY 2023 Budget Request are necessary for the long-term transition of most of the economy from fossil fuels to domestically produced renewable energy,” Granholm said in her written testimony to the energy subcommittee.
Granholm reiterated that view in a widely circulated exchange with Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) during the Energy and Commerce hearing.
“You’re anti-fossil fuels, aren’t you?” Duncan asked.
“I would like to transition away from unabated fossil fuels to a clean energy future,” Granholm responded.
“How did you transit over here today?” Duncan asked. After more back and forth, the energy secretary said she came to the hearing in a vehicle powered by fossil fuels, saying that her security detail’s electric vehicle couldn’t be used “because we had too many people in the car.”
In her written testimony to the energy subcommittee, Granholm said that “the situation in Ukraine and the impact on gas prices” necessitates massive investments in “renewable energy and energy-efficient electric appliances.”
She told the subcommittee that her department is “using every tool available to increase oil supply,” citing the United States’ release of 180 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over six months.
That marked the third such SPR drawdown in less than half a year. The Biden administration moved to release 50 million barrels from the SPR in November 2021 and 30 million barrels in early March.
“Perhaps renewable energy is the greatest peace plan this world will ever know,’ Granholm said on April 27, while speaking at an offshore wind industry meeting with European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
In her written testimony to the energy subcommittee, Granholm said her office is “committed to securing and advancing environmental justice and equity.”
The department recently posted a job listing for an environmental justice policy adviser with an annual salary between $148,484 and $176,300.
The adviser’s job duties would include “consult[ing] with internal and external federal diversity/equity professionals as well as local/community government and organizers, NGOs, private organizations to ascertain minority and under-represented/under-served groups to determine where and how funds, projects, and programs can be used within those communities nationwide.”
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who chairs the appropriations committee’s energy subcommittee, stressed investments in hydrogen, an energy source mentioned just once in Granholm’s written testimony.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, approved late last year, budgeted $8 billion for regional hydrogen hubs.
Kaptur argued that hydrogen produced from nuclear or solar would save money and “decarbonize sectors.”
“I’ve met with so many of our automotive companies, and when I say, ‘What can I do to keep your production here?’ their first answer is, ‘Cut our energy costs by a third,'” she said.
Both Kaptur and her Republican counterpart, ranking Republican member Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), complained to Granholm about not yet receiving the required supporting materials on the department’s budget request.
A spokesperson for Simpson told The Epoch Times that those materials must come from their respective departments within the Biden administration.