Manchin, Committee Consider Energy, Interior Nominees

August 3, 2021

Manchin highlights the important role science plays in advancing American energy, economic, and national security

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

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

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider the nominations of Dr. Geraldine Richmond to be Under Secretary for Science at the Department of Energy, Ms. Cynthia Weiner Stachelberg to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management, and Budget, and Dr. Asmeret Berhe to be Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy. During the hearing, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, questioned Dr. Asmeret Berhe on how the Office of Science could responsibly utilize the increase in funds recently appropriated by the Energy Act of 2020 and the Endless Frontier Act.

“We passed the Energy Act at the end of last year. It authorized over $35 billion to invest in innovative energy solutions like CCUS, advanced nuclear, renewables, and energy storage, to name a few… In addition, earlier this year, the Senate passed the Endless Frontier Act, which will make additional funds available to the Office of Science. So, how will you, if confirmed, ensure that additional sums made available to the Office of Science to fund basic research are wisely spent and provide the greatest possible return in terms of scientific discoveries and technological innovation?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“I think it’s extremely important that we are not just working on trying to innovate the newest technologies and advance in cleaner energy options, but as you stated, carbon capture technology is an important part of that equation. I’ve spent a big part of my life in particular on natural solutions for carbon capture, but there are also a number of engineered approaches there. I am committed to making sure that all those resources are spent wisely, to make sure that they are helping us push against the frontiers of the science in this area. But at the same time see also a very smooth transition to having these technologies be applied and help address the energy and climate related challenges and all of that’s super helpful,” said Dr. Berhe.

Chairman Manchin also asked Dr. Geraldine Richmond about the Department of Energy’s critical role as a key facilitator of scientific discovery and technological innovation.

“Do you agree that your principal task, if confirmed [as Under Secretary of Science at the Department of Energy], will be to foster scientific discovery and technological innovation? And how do you plan to go about that?” Chairman Manchin asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” said Dr. Richmond. “As I said, I have several priorities, but one particular to that issue is to make sure that as we go from discovery research to going all the way to where we develop technologies and deploy them, and also create jobs, to help make that as seamless as possible.”

Finally, Chairman Manchin questioned Ms. Cynthia Weiner Stachelberg on what her chief priorities would be as an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, given the role’s very broad portfolio and authority over more than two dozen different program offices. In response, Ms. Stachelberg said that her priorities would be ensuring the Department is fully staffed, effectively handling the Department’s management and budget, and attending to the Wildland Fire Program.

To read the nominees’ testimony, please click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.