Barrasso: Dr. Berhe is Not the Right Person to Serve as Director of the Office of Science

May 10, 2022

Click here to watch Ranking Member Barrasso’s remarks.  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor about Dr. Asmeret Berhe’s nomination to be director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy. 

Barrasso is ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR). 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“I come to the floor today in opposition to the nomination of Dr. Asmeret Berhe who has been nominated to serve as director of the Office of Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. 

“The Office of Science is ‘the nation’s largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences.’ 

“Its mission is to ‘advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.’ 

“This mission to ‘advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States’ is one that I view as very critical. 

“Dr. Berhe has been professor of soil biogeochemistry at the University of California, Merced for over a decade. 

“She has focused her research on soil management and sequestering carbon in soil. 

“Her background and experience have very little to do with the Department of Energy’s main scientific focus. 

“A May 9, 2021 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by a physicist whose expertise is theoretical physics has noted: ‘Ms. Berhe’s research program on soil chemistry, exploring the capture of carbon dioxide, is relevant to climate change policy. But her research expertise isn’t in any of the Office of Science’s major programs, and she has no experience as a scientific administrator and minimal experience with the Energy Department itself.’ 

“So not that there is anything wrong with her underlying experience to do other things, but for this specific position, the qualifications just aren’t there. 

“Dr. Berhe is clearly not the right choice to lead the Office of Science. 

“Certain positions Dr. Berhe has taken or endorsed are also concerning. 

“On February 18, 2021, she retweeted the statement: ‘I’m just going to propose that a nation that can land a SUV sized rover in an ancient lake on another planet can build an electrical grid that is not f---ing useless because of slavish devotion to the free market.’ 

“On May 7, 2015, she wrote in Science that ‘the practice of farming’ is to blame for climate change. 

“Dr. Berhe is not the right person to serve as director of the Office of Science. 

“I rise in opposition of her nomination and urge my colleagues to join me in voting against this nominee.”