Cantwell Slams Administration’s Proposed Reorganization For DOE, DOI

July 19, 2018

“You can’t mandate coal and say you’re for market-based solutions, you just can’t.” 

“Take this message back: The future is coming, whether [Trump] wants it to or not.”

Watch Video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement here. 

Watch video of Sen Cantwell’s questions here.

Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) questioned Trump administration officials from the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of the Interior (DOI) about agency reorganization proposals.

During the hearing, Senator Cantwell asked Bernard McNamee, Executive Director of the Office of Policy at DOE if he “considers the President’s constant insistence that FERC adopt and mandate coal as the only reliable source of electricity a market-based solution?”

“The President is illogical as it relates to electricity. He’s just trying to make it more expensive...You can’t mandate coal and say you’re for market-based solutions, you just can’t,” said Senator Cantwell.  “We’ve thwarted that at least at FERC but now trying using the National Defense Act, as a way to say you have to have coal on the grid, there is nothing market-based about that.”

“So the notion that the President wants to make electricity more expensive for many parts of America is just crazy, it doesn’t need to be that way. So to come here with a reorganization plan that’s about efficiency, but the bottom line is raising electricity rates 30-40% on big swaths of the economy is, like you said, a bad idea and something we don’t need,” said Senator Cantwell.

“One of the best things that DOE and the President can do is realize, so if you could take this message back, the future is coming, whether he wants it to or not,” said Senator Cantwell. “The question is whether our Department of Energy is going to help in that transformation and help drive down costs to consumers and businesses.”

“When it comes to the Department of the Interior’s reorganization, Secretary Zinke and the administration have failed to offer explanations on why they want to make major changes,” said Senator Cantwell. We have no understanding of how the Interior’s proposal could impact Tribal Nations. It seems to me that the Secretary should complete tribal consultation before rather than after putting this plan together.”

“Given all the Department’s other actions to give away public lands and to not implement important rules to protect taxpayers, I have great concerns about these reorganization strategies,” said Senator Cantwell.

“Both the Energy and Interior departments seem intent on fixing problems that don’t exist instead of solving the ones that do. Some of what the President and his administration have proposed is downright dangerous,” said Senator Cantwell. “At the top of the list is the idea to sell off transmission assets from the Bonneville Power Administration and its sister agency the Tennessee Valley Authority. These regional entities serve consumers in 33 states including rural Americans who would otherwise be left behind and have built with cost base power, tremendous economies that we don’t want to disrupt.”

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement can be found here.

Broadcast quality video of Senator Cantwell’s questions can be found here.

Witness testimony will be available online immediately before the start of each hearing on the committee website.