Barrasso Opening Statement on Bipartisan Cybersecurity, Nuclear Energy, & Scientific Innovation Bills

March 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 seven bills relevant to programs or offices at the Department of Energy (DOE). Barrasso has introduced one of the seven bills and is a cosponsor of two. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable Geraldine Richmond, undersecretary for science and innovation 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: 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman. 

“Like you, before I turn to the subject of today’s hearing, I want to say a few words about Ukraine. 

“I would like to make it clear that this committee stands with the people and the country of Ukraine.

“We condemn Russia’s invasion in the strongest possible terms. 

“As you, Mr. Chairman, said yesterday: ‘The United States can and must ramp up domestic energy production and increase access to our abundant resources and technologies to both protect our energy independence and support our allies around the globe.’ 

“And we in the minority stand ready to ensure that our NATO allies and Ukraine have access to abundant American energy. 

“We in the minority are ready to support additional exports of liquefied natural gas, crude oil, coal, and uranium from the United States. 

“The United States has the energy resources to help our allies reduce their dependence on Russian energy. 

“The United States has the energy resources to empower our allies to take tougher action against Russia. 

“We have the energy resources to improve our economy and reduce inflation here at home. 

“We just need the political will here in Washington to make that happen. 

“Now I’ll turn to my remarks for the hearing. 

“Today, we will consider seven bills related to the Department of Energy. 

“I will limit my comments to the three bills, which I have introduced or cosponsored. 

“The first is S. 2302, a bill to ensure that an assistant secretary will lead the Department’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. 

“In March of last year, I – along with a bipartisan group of senators on this committee – wrote to the secretary, urging her to assign an assistant secretary to lead the office of cybersecurity. 

“We explained that the last administration assigned an assistant secretary to head this office. 

“We also explained that the role of the office would be diminished if a Senate-confirmed official did not lead it.           

“Two months later, criminal hackers based in eastern Europe stole data which led to the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline. 

“The shutdown caused gasoline and diesel fuel shortages. 

“Prices spiked along the East Coast. 

“More recently, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned Americans to expect cyberattacks from Russian-backed actors. 

“We were warned again – the senators were – last night by the Department of Homeland Security. 

“Despite these developments, the president has not nominated an assistant secretary to lead the cybersecurity office. 

“The Department’s latest reorganization plan also indicates we will not get such a nominee. 

“My bill – which Senator Risch has cosponsored – is companion legislation to a bipartisan bill that has already passed the House. 

“There is no good reason for the secretary to diminish the role of the cybersecurity office. 

“It’s time for the Senate to act. 

“The second bill is S. 3428, Chairman Manchin’s Fission for the Future Act. 

“I am the lead cosponsor on the bill. 

“It would provide financial assistance to states and other entities seeking to deploy advanced nuclear reactors. 

“A growing number of states recognize that advanced nuclear reactors are a critical part of our energy future. 

“My home state of Wyoming will be home to TerraPower’s first Natrium reactor.

“The state of Washington will host X-Energy’s first advanced reactor. 

“This bill will help states with the licensing, development, and construction of these reactors and related supply-chain infrastructure. 

“I have also cosponsored S. 3699, Chairman Manchin’s bill to reauthorize the Department’s Office of Science. 

“This bill will significantly expand EPSCoR, which is the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. 

“For decades, the department has overlooked research universities in rural states. 

“This bill will help universities, like the University of Wyoming, better compete for the department’s research dollars. 

“The bill also establishes new basic research programs on carbon and rare earth mineral extraction, underground storage of carbon dioxide, as well as nuclear energy. 

“These new programs will help ensure that the Office of Science is conducting research to promote all types of American energy. 

“In addition, the bill will help address our nation’s need for medical isotopes. 

“Medical isotopes play a critical role in diagnosing and treating diseases like cancer. 

“For far too long, we have been dependent on Russia and other countries for our supply of these isotopes. 

“Sanctions may jeopardize our supply. 

“This bill will boost domestic production of these isotopes and reduce our foreign dependence. 

“Finally, the bill will reduce the risk that adversaries, like China, will steal research funded by the Office of Science. 

“The bill will impose penalties on funding recipients, who knowingly violate the department’s protocols to protect American research. 

“I want to thank the chairman for his leadership and willingness to work with me on two of these important bills. 

“I hope he can also join me in supporting the third. 

“I also want to thank our witness, Dr. Richmond. 

“I look forward to your testimony. 

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”