Barrasso: We Should Work to Build a Broad Consensus on Energy Infrastructure Legislation

June 24, 2021

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), delivered the following remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the infrastructure needs of the U.S. energy sector, western water and public lands, and to consider this legislative proposal.

The hearing featured testimony from Dr. Kathleen Hogan, acting undersecretary for Science and Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; Ms. Tanya Trujillo, assistant secretary of the Interior for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior; Mr. Chris French, deputy chief of the national forest system at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum; Mr. Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation; and Mr. Mark P. Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your commitment to develop bipartisan infrastructure legislation. We are very grateful.

“It is critical that this committee and the Senate as a whole proceed through regular order – not the partisan reconciliation process. 

“I commend you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing to begin a regular order, legislative process on infrastructure legislation. 

“I applaud you also for drafting a bill that recognizes the necessity for advanced nuclear and carbon capture technologies. 

“I am also grateful that the legislation includes money for water infrastructure in the West. 

“If any projects within this committee’s jurisdiction meet the definition of infrastructure, they are clearly Bureau of Reclamation projects.

“At the same time, Mr. Chairman, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind the lack of process used to draft the legislative proposal before us today. 

“We all recognize the need to move infrastructure legislation in a timely manner. 

“But neither I nor my staff had the opportunity to review or provide input on the draft bill before it was released last Thursday. 

“That is also true for most of the Republican members of this committee. 

“I believe we should work to build a broad consensus. 

“The lack of consultation means we are not including the priorities from all of our committee members, who represent states with different needs. 

“There is time to right the ship, to build this consensus, and to pass something we all can support. 

“I am ready to work with you, Mr. Chairman, to do just that. 

“I believe the draft bill still needs work. 

“It does not authorize programs where we should, and it does appropriate money where we should not. 

“The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is – after all – a committee that authorizes programs. 

“It does not appropriate funds. 

“I am aware of no precedent where this committee appropriated anything close to the $100 billion included in this draft bill. 

“I am troubled the bill includes a $5 billion program that appears designed to further bailout the state of California and its failing electric grid. 

“The state of California already has a $75 billion budget surplus. 

“I’m concerned that the bill funds the Department of Energy to coerce states to adopt building codes, which may restrict the use of natural gas. 

“I’m opposed to spending $500 million dollars for schools to plant ‘outdoor gardens’ and install ‘green roofs.’ 

“I’m concerned about appropriating ten times the amount of money that Congress has authorized for weatherization assistance. 

“I’m opposed to a twenty-fold increase for an energy efficiency program. 

“And I’m concerned that this bill includes almost no permitting reform. 

“Permitting reform is one thing we really need to actually get infrastructure built. 

“The draft also leaves open critical questions. 

“How will we pay for this bill? 

“Will this bill be incorporated into Majority Leader Schumer’s partisan reconciliation process or will it go by regular order? 

“Is this bill a wise and prudent use of American taxpayer dollars? 

“Or does this bill spend money on initiatives which the private sector already intends to support? 

“I along with all of the Republicans on this committee are ready to get to work. 

“We have policy ideas and legislation that address America’s infrastructure needs. 

“We also need answers to our questions and changes to address our concerns. 

“I want to again thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing and beginning the committee process on this important topic. 

“I also want to welcome the witnesses to our committee and look forward to the testimony from all of you.”