Barrasso: DOE Must Not Waste Taxpayer Dollars

February 2, 2023

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 opening remarks at a full committee hearing to examine the Department of Energy’s implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

The hearing featured testimony from the Honorable David M. Turk, deputy secretary of Energy. 

For more information on witness testimony click here. 

Senator Barrasso’s remarks: 

“Thanks so much Mr. Chairman. 

“Thanks for your leadership on this committee last Congress and for the productive partnership that we have shared and will continue to share. 

“I’m looking forward to working with you and all the members of the committee again this year. 

“I would like to welcome Senator Hawley from the great state of Missouri. 

“We’re excited to have him as a member of the committee, and I look forward to his continued advocacy for American energy. 

“We’re sad to see Senator Marshall and Senator Lankford leave the committee. 

“We owe them both thanks for the work they did on advancing on American energy. 

“Mr. Chairman, thanks for holding today’s hearing. 

“In November of 2021, Congress passed a $415 billion spending bill. 

“The Congressional Budget Office said that this legislation will increase our nation’s deficit by $256 billion over the next ten years.   

“Under this legislation, Congress approved over $62 billion to the Department of Energy.

“That amount is in addition to the department’s annual appropriation of roughly $40 billion. 

“On top of these sums, Democrats in Congress gave another $35 billion to the department in their Inflation Act. 

“The amount of money that the department has received over the last two years is staggering. 

“So the question is not whether the department is going to waste taxpayer dollars. 

“But how to reduce the amount it will waste. 

“For that reason, I’m glad we have the deputy secretary here today.   

“I supported his nomination, and he came out of this committee unanimously. 

“We appreciate the work you’re doing. 

“We are all interested in learning what, if any, new controls or protocols the department has put in place to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse that is likely to come with that kind of money being spent. 

“Last year, the department’s inspector general wrote to this committee. 

“She explained that she does not have sufficient resources at the department to monitor the amount of money that is now flying out the department’s doors. 

“She stated that she ‘[a]nticipate[s] substantial losses due to fraud, waste and abuse,’ in part, because the law expands programs with a history of ‘serious problems.’ 

“I would note that the legislation provided nearly $100 million for the Department of the Interior’s inspector general. 

“But it provided only about half that amount for the Department of Energy’s inspector general. 

“This seems reckless given that the Infrastructure Act appropriated more than twice the amount to the Department of Energy than it appropriated to the Department of the Interior. 

“I’d like to know whether Mr. Turk would support redirecting some of the existing appropriations to the office of the inspector general within the Department of Energy. 

“I’m also interested to learn what, if any, new controls and protocols the department has put in place to ensure the legislation doesn’t fund our nation’s adversaries, like China. 

“One program is already raising concerns. 

“Last year, the Department of Energy provided a $200 million grant to a battery manufacturer called Microvast. 

“This company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal very troubling connections to the Communist Chinese government. 

“One filing states that: ‘The [People’s Republic of China] exerts substantial influence over the manner in which we must conduct our business activities and may intervene, at any time and with no notice.’ 

“The company goes on to state that: ‘We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights in the PRC.’ 

“The supporters of the legislation said it would help increase America’s competitiveness. 

“Now we know that the department is funneling hundreds of millions of dollars to a company that publicly admits it is at the beck and call of the Chinese government.

“In December 2022, I wrote to Secretary Granholm, asking her for information about the department’s review process for grants. 

“The secretary has not responded. 

“Perhaps you’ll respond today. 

“Finally, I’d like the deputy secretary to pledge that funds from the Infrastructure Act will not be used to ban or restrict the use of natural gas in new buildings. 

“Senator Manchin already asked the question and raised the issue of natural gas and cooking stoves. 

“In 2021, I warned that this legislation would allow the secretary to finance entities that seek to ban the use of natural gas in new buildings. 

“I offered an amendment to stop this. 

“All 10 Democrats on this committee voted against the amendment in the past. 

“They said it wasn’t an issue. 

“Thanks to Commissioner Trumka, the mask has slipped. 

“We now know the Biden administration is seeking to restrict the use of natural gas in new buildings. 

“We cannot let that happen. 

“I look forward to, Mr. Deputy Secretary, your testimony. 

“Thanks, Mr. Chairman.”