Barrasso Opening Statement on Energy, Mining, & Drought Bills

December 1, 2022

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 legislative hearing to examine and receive testimony on a number of energy, public lands, and water bills. Barrasso introduced or cosponsored five of the bills examined at the hearing. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary for nuclear energy at the U.S. Department of Energy; Ms. Nada Wolff Culver, deputy director of policy & programs at the Bureau of Land Management at the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Mr. Doug MacIntyre, deputy director for the Office of Petroleum Reserves at the U.S. Department of Energy. 

For more information on witness testimony and to see the full list of bills examined click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“I’m going to limit my remarks to the five bills that I have introduced or cosponsored with you and with other members of this committee. 

“The first is S. 3152. 

“This bill would prohibit entities that have defaulted on a Department of Energy loan or loan guarantee in the past from receiving a new loan or loan guarantee. 

“This summer, Congressional Democrats increased the department’s lending authority from $40 billion to $290 billion.

“They also provided more than $11 billion to cover the cost of serving these loans – a cost that applicants typically have paid in the past. 

“This means the department has a greater chance of wasting taxpayer dollars on projects that do not deserve support. 

“We all remember Solyndra and the many other bad loans that the Obama administration made. 

“It’s basic good governance to ensure that an entity that failed to repay a federal loan in the past is not rewarded with another taxpayer-backed loan. 

“The next bill is one that you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, S. 3915, the Mining Schools Act of 2022. 

“Both of us have introduced and cosponsored. 

“This bill would establish a grant program to help mining schools recruit students. 

“According to the American Exploration and Mining Association: ‘A large portion of the workforce in the [U.S.] mining industry is nearing retirement age, heightening the need for qualified, well-educated college graduates to enter the workplace soon.’ 

“I believe our legislation will help address this need.           

“The next is S. 3978, the NO RUSSIA Act of 2022. 

“This summer, we considered my bills to eliminate imports of Russian uranium and accelerate the domestic availability of high-assay, low-enriched uranium for advanced reactors. 

“Today, we are considering my bill to ensure a domestic supply of low-enriched uranium for existing reactors. 

“Together, these three bills provide the comprehensive solution needed to eliminate our reliance on Russian uranium. 

“Since these bills have been introduced, I have worked closely you, Mr. Chairman, as well as Senator Risch to develop a comprehensive solution to these three issues. 

“Congress needs to act to ensure this solution is enacted into law by the end of the year. 

“We need to stop funding Putin’s war machine immediately, and we need to restore our domestic supply chain for nuclear fuel. 

“I also introduced S. 4651, a bill to prohibit the department from selling crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to rogue states. 

“Earlier this summer, the department sold our emergency oil reserves to Unipec. 

“That is a subsidiary of China’s state-owned oil company, Sinopec. 

“My bill would eliminate sales to countries, like China, that violate religious freedom. 

“It would also bar the sale to entities that purchase oil from sanctioned nations, such as Russia and Iran. 

“The last bill is S. 4579, the Colorado River Basin Conservation Act.

“This bill would provide incentives to farmers and ranchers to use techniques that conserve water to help address the declining levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

“In June, Camille Touton, the commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, called for additional action from the Basin States to generate 2 to 4 million acre feet per year of additional water in the Colorado River system. 

“In response, the Upper Basin states developed a 5-Point Plan. 

“In July, Senator Hickenlooper and I introduced legislation reauthorizing the System Conservation Pilot Program, a key plank of that plan. 

“The committee already passed the bill as an amendment. 

“We are considering it today as a standalone measure. 

“Reauthorizing this program is an important step that we can take to answer the Bureau’s call for these historic water reductions.

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”