Manchin, Energy Committee Reconvene To Consider Secretary Of The Interior Nominee

February 24, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee reconvened to continue the hearing to consider the nomination of U.S. Representative Debra Haaland (D-NM) to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, highlighted the need to improve current pipeline permitting processes to help reduce methane emissions from public lands.

“The fact of the matter is there is far too much methane being emitted. In 2019, oil and gas operations on onshore federal lands vented or flared almost 75 billion cubic feet of methane. This was an 83 percent increase from 2015 levels. This is especially troubling because venting and flaring of methane can be prevented. That doesn’t happen on private lands. So, I start asking questions like ‘Why are we wasting this product?’ and ‘Why would any company let so much value go up in the air when they could be selling it and putting it in the product line?’ Their problem was this: they can’t get permits to put in pipelines that can be used to take methane off property. If we’ve got this resource and are using this resource, we’re going to need a permitting process that’s going to allow us to take the methane out, rather than emitting it,” said Chairman Manchin. “Would you work with us on finding a pathway forward to make this a reality and not vent so much methane?”

“Senator, I would be happy to work with you on this issue. We do need to reduce methane pollution. Of course, that can absolutely create jobs and also care for our climate. And I think benefitting the tax payers is always a good idea. I would be happy to find solutions for that issue,” Rep. Haaland said.

“The main thing is that we’re going to need help on the permitting process, and I’m asking you to work with us on that. We need to make sure that we aren’t venting or flaring methane. I think that will be tremendously helpful to our environment,” Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin also questioned Rep. Haaland on the oil and gas leasing pause recently implemented by the Biden Administration.

“It is my understanding that the executive action taken by the President put a pause on new oil and gas leases to allow the new administration to review the leasing program, which I have also asked for. I also want to know what the term of these leases are, how much they’re paying for these leases, and why they’re holding so many with non-producing status. I believe it is prudent to conduct a review of our leasing process,” said Chairman Manchin. “Will any company with an existing lease still be able to apply for permits or begin operations based on existing leases, including those that are currently non-producing?”

“I know that each permit might require something different with respect to how they’re reviewing it, but it is my understanding that permits are still moving through. I agree with you that a review is a good idea,” Rep. Haaland said.

Chairman Manchin previously commented on President Biden’s temporary pause on new leases, which does not impact energy activity like drilling or permitting on existing leases.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.