Lankford Questions Energy Secretary about Deficit Spending, Unrealistic Targets in President’s Budget for Department of Energy

CLICK HERE to watch Lankford’s Q&A on YouTube.

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today participated in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the President’s budget request for the Department of Energy for Fiscal Year 2022 with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. Lankford pushed on the huge increases in spending that would add to our debt and deficit and also on inefficiencies in permitting and rare earth mineral excavation in the US. Lankford also asked about the Biden Administration’s insistence that we move directly to carbon-neutral transportation and energy technology, including electric vehicles.

In a Finance Committee hearing in May, Lankford raised strong concerns with Chairman Wyden’s bill, the Clean Energy for America Act, which Committee Democrats pushed to try to “cancel” traditional energy and only incentivize investment in renewable and “clean” energy options. In earlier Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Lankford focused his questions on nuclear energy, noting that to get to zero emissions by 2050 using nuclear power, over 100 nuclear energy facilities would have to be built. In March in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Lankford noted how long it takes to build the necessary infrastructure that supports renewable energy sources that can meet the Americans’ energy needs.


On the huge spending increases and big jumps to carbon-neutral sought in the President’s budget

Lankford: As I go through the budget, it’s clear: more money. That’s a pretty clear aspect of the budget is that in almost every area increase, increase, increase, some of them by very large percentages, 300, 400-percent increase from previous time periods. But there also seems to be a philosophical shift as well on how we’re handling carbon. It’s not reducing it. It’s eliminating, and it’s a jump there. So, let me give you a for instances. It seem to move for transportation to electric vehicles, straight from fossil fuel to electric vehicles, skipping through the hybrid that obviously can make an enormous difference, skipping away from natural gas and other things to say, ‘Well, how do we find something to skip over this, instead of a transition? From home heating oil, for instance, all of my friends in the Northeast use a lot of home-heating oil that produces a lot more carbon than we do in the Midwest using natural gas. But it seems to try to make the jump.

On the 14-year process, and counting, to receive a federal permit for new electricity generation projects

Lankford: So When I look at your plan, you’ve got a 2035 for electricity generation to be at zero carbon. Is that correct?

Granholm: Right.

Lankford: So, the permitting question comes into that for me initially. Fourteen years away, to say that we’ll be at zero carbon within fourteen years. I look at the TransWest Transmission Line and the permitting they’ve gone through, the transmission lines that’ve taken wind power through several states in the Northwest. That process started in 2007. They have yet to break ground on it yet. So they’ve been permitting since 2007, permitting, permitting, permitting. They hope break ground on it next year, 15, 16 years in the process from permitting to starting it…

Granholm: …You are completely right about the permitting issue, completely right. It is way too long, and it’s very frustrating. And we have got a team internally that is working on that. It’s got to be an intergovernmental strategy obviously because we don’t do,, DOE doesn’t do permitting but there is a recognition that we’ve got to move with alacrity…

On extending the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program to domestic production

Lankford: Another issue we’ve talked about several times here is the critical earth, rare earth elements as well and to figure out how we actually get that. The biggest challenge that we have there is the permitting side of that as well. Obviously those resources are here. They are obviously in high demand, but we’ve got lots of issues there. One of the things that I’ve raised is the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program that Energy has and to be able to put a greater priority on that program on the development of domestic. Would you be open to have the Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program be more focused on domestic production of critical earth?

Granholm: Yes, I think we may need a statutory language change but absolutely.