Hearings and Business Meetings

SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:30 AM

Jeffrey D. Jarrett

Department of Energy

Statement of Jeffrey D. Jarrett

Nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary, Fossil Energy
Department of Energy

Before the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources

United States Senate

November 10, 2005

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Mr. Chairman, Senator Bingaman, and members of the Committee, it is a great honor to appear before you today as the President’s nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, for the Department of Energy.  As you know I was before this Committee in December of 2001 when my nomination to my current position as the Director of the Office of Surface Mining was pending, and it is a pleasure to be back before you.  President Bush has paid me the highest compliment by nominating me for this position and I very much appreciate Secretary Bodman recommending me to the President.

I also want to thank my family.  My parents, Leslie and Agatha, were a formidable team and two of the hardest working, most honest people I have ever known.  They never procrastinated, and they never shirked responsibility.  They set an incredible example for me.  Both of my parents served during World War II: my father as a marine in the South Pacific, and my mother as a naval officer. I have always tried to make them as proud of me as I am of them.  My children, Sarah, age 19, and Tyler, age 11, are the pride of my life.  Sarah has become an incredible young adult, and Tyler is the responsible “man of the house” when I am away on business.  They are both extremely helpful members of the family, and that is a tremendous help to me.  My hope for the kind of world I want them to live in motivates me as a public servant.  My wife, Janet Goodwin, is my most trusted friend and adviser.  I can always count on her to be pointedly honest when necessary, but most of all, I can always count on her.  I want to thank all of them for the support, encouragement and love they have always shown to me. 

My career began over thirty years ago in the coal industry.  While a very young man, in my 20’s, I was made an environmental manager, and during my 13 year tenure in industry, became a general manager and then an executive.  I was involved in almost every aspect of the coal mining business, learning about what it takes to manage a large organization,  make payroll, comply with complicated and sometimes even conflicting government regulations, plan for the future by securing coal reserves and contracts, and still make a profit.   Throughout these early years of my career I was substantially involved in state and national industry associations to keep abreast of emerging issues and to provide corporate perspective and input into public policy decisions.  During this time I learned how critically important it is for industry to be able to rely on public policies that are clear, reasonable, and durable in making strategic business decisions.

It was my in-depth understanding of the industry and the specific interface of business and government that I brought to my next career as a public servant.  For seven years I was the Deputy Assistant Director of Program Operations with the Office of Surface Mining, U.S. Dept. of the Interior.  In that capacity I was primarily responsible for working with and conducting oversight of the eastern states in implementing the mandates of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. In that position I tried to minimize the ambiguities in government regulation that I knew were plaguing both industry and state regulatory agencies.

For the next six years I was a senior public policy decision maker for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, first as the Director of District Mining Operations, then as Deputy Secretary for Mineral Resources Management.  By this time in my career I was ready for the leadership role in the mineral extraction programs in a state with a large industry.  It was also my first significant exposure to other industries in addition to the coal industry, including the oil and gas industry, the insurance industry and the explosives industry.   It was a great opportunity to make a real difference, and I think I did.  For example, during my tenure I was able to implement a new surface coal mine bonding program that provides the highest level of assurance that adequate funds will be available to complete reclamation plans on future forfeited sites, and established the first comprehensive program in the nation to provide the financial resources for the perpetual treatment of acid mine drainage on sites where operators default on their obligations to treat water.  A significant point is that the program was implemented with the complete support of all stakeholders including industry and the state legislature.  That support was the direct result of our willingness to involve the stakeholders in the development of the program, and to address their legitimate concerns.

In 2002 I left the state leadership role and, after being considered by this Committee and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I began my service as the Director of the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), Department of the Interior. These have been some of the most exciting, challenging and rewarding years of my career.  During the past few years OSM, a relatively young agency, has achieved the highest level of stability it has ever enjoyed, and has achieved respect with states, industry, and a large segment of the environmental community.  I have learned what it takes to work within the Administration, the Office of Management and Budget and Congress to advance important public policy issues.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I bring a unique perspective earned and learned over a career of involvement with energy and environmental issues because of my years as a coal industry executive and as a state and Federal public policy decision maker.  But I also bring a more important perspective gained from the length of time I have been involved in energy and environmental issues: three decades.  As much as I have always tried to bring certainty to the programs I managed, things do change.  The nature of environmental concerns and the energy industry have changed, the technology has changed, the science we all rely upon has gotten better, and most important the concerns of the citizens we have a duty to protect have changed, and will continue to change.  In a world of new information and shifting viewpoints, the person who is fortunate enough to lead the Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy program must be a good listener – someone who listens to the concerns and viewpoints of all stakeholders.  I am a good listener, and I understand the challenge of finding common ground and common interests upon which to build solutions to the daunting problems we face together regarding this nation’s energy security.  Communication – the listening side every bit as much as the talking side – is the key to understanding the complicated issues this nation faces.

I have been very fortunate to have opportunities which became excellent learning experiences.  I learned first-hand the need for our government to be effective and responsive to the legitimate needs of citizens and the business community.  I learned first-hand the need for our government to make wise policy decisions to meet changing world conditions.  I learned that decisions by government agencies must not be made in a vacuum without real-world considerations.  I learned the value of early involvement of all stakeholders in the decision making process. And I have learned that our country needs and expects public servants who will work with integrity and in the public interest. 

During the past few weeks I have been able to meet with several members of this Committee and staff and hear some of your concerns and issues.  I have also learned much about the activities of the Fossil Energy Program within the Department of Energy.  From what I’ve seen so far, it is clear that there is critically important work being done in the Department by extremely talented engineers, scientists and other staff.  The research, development, demonstration and deployment activities being carried out are critically important to the nation’s energy future.  And they are not, nor should they be pursued in a vacuum.  Technology cannot be deployed unless cross-cutting issues are understood and also addressed. 

But of course DOE is not just research; it is charged with the responsibility of assuring coordinated and effective administration of Federal policy and programs.  Critical to advancing energy policy that is reasonable, achievable and durable are the budget choices we make today regarding research, development and demonstration, because those decisions will significantly affect our energy choices of the future.  Budget choices are always difficult because Federal dollars are a finite resource and there is certainly not unanimous agreement among all stakeholders about how those dollars should be spent.  But decisions must be made and it is the responsibility of the Federal government to make them.  If I am confirmed, you have my promise that I will work within the Administration, with this Committee and with the Appropriations Committees so that we can together make the wisest spending choices.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I sat before you four years ago and made a promise that if confirmed as Director of the Office of Surface Mining I would work in a bipartisan way with both houses of Congress and with all stakeholders.  For four years I have worked hard to live up to that commitment and have been rewarded with tremendous cooperation and great partnerships that have allowed OSM to be successful.  Today I repeat that promise if I am confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of Fossil Energy.

Thank you for the opportunity to make this statement.