Manchin, Committee Examine the Department of the Interior’s Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

December 13, 2022

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 examine the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, discussed the substantial funding and new authorizations provided to the DOI in the IIJA, and built upon with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), to boost energy production, onshore critical minerals supply chains, clean up legacy pollution in fossil fuel communities, enhance our energy security, and more. 

He also noted the provisions that were already benefitting West Virginia. 

“I am especially proud that $16 billion of that funding will specifically help to address an issue very important to my home state of West Virginia – the reclamation of abandoned coal mine lands and the plugging of orphan wells. Over $1.2 billion has already gone out the door to carry out that work. Working together with Interior, states are investing in projects that document and plug orphan wells, close dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, restore water supplies, and clean streams by treating acid mine drainage—all while providing local jobs in those communities.

“Coal communities in West Virginia, and across the country, are proud to have powered our nation for decades and enabled this country to become the superpower of the world. Last year’s funding investments recognize those contributions and the scars these communities bear as a result, and provide the funding needed to reinvest in the future of these communities that gave so much. In fact, with the Department’s help, the infrastructure bill’s Abandoned Mine Land funding, coupled with the AML fee extension, could result in approximately $4.3 billion in economic output for the state and 1,730 jobs that will continue for 13 to 15 years in West Virginia,” said Chairman Manchin.

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin questioned Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau about recent comments made by President Biden that there would be “no more drilling” in the U.S.

“The Inflation Reduction Act mandated certain offshore lease sales over the next year. The President makes a comment and says basically there will be no more drilling. If there’s no more drilling there’s no more wind, there’s no more solar, there’s no more anything. That’s why the two are tied together, but no one really knows that. I don’t know how you all comply with that when you’re hearing from the administration no more drilling, but on the other hand it’s unable to do wind or solar leasing without first doing oil and gas leasing. How are you all navigating that?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“We very much view, as laid out in the IRA, our renewable energy programs, both onshore and offshore, as well as our oil and gas leasing programs, as connected,” responded Deputy Secretary Beaudreau.

“You all understand how it’s connected? That basically it’s an all-in energy policy. We’re going to do the fossil in the cleanest fashion possible to provide the energy we need today while we’re investing in the energy we’ll need for the future,” continued Chairman Manchin.

“That’s exactly how we view it,” replied Deputy Secretary Beaudreau.

Chairman Manchin also asked about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) delay in permitting critical minerals projects and requirements in the IIJA for Interior to improve the mine permitting process.

“Can you commit to addressing these overdue items in a timely fashion to get back on track? I'm understanding we still have critical mineral projects, lithium mines that are still on hold. Have they been moving in a positive way? Do you have any of them that have been through the permitting process or going to be starting production anytime soon in in the United States?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“In the United States, with respect to the reports called for under the bipartisan infrastructure law, those are in progress. I chair the interagency working group along with the Energy Department. [We’re] very focused on these issues,” said Deputy Secretary Beaudreau.

“[It’s a] very short timeline that we're trying to get back into production so that we can meet the needs of the market. Right now, we're depending on China,” said Chairman Manchin.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.