Senate Republicans traded barbs with Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm at a meeting of the Senate Energy Committee.
At a Committee hearing Thursday, Granholm sparred with Republican Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, Kansas Senator Roger Marshall, and Utah Senator Mike Lee on the Biden administration’s moves against oil and natural gas production.
Granholm was first asked by Barrasso about comments made by White House Climate adviser Gina McCarthy that Biden was “absolutely committed to not moving forward with additional drilling on public lands.” Granholm responded by saying the Interior Department had opened up some land to new drilling leases.
“Does the president … confirm what the climate advisor has said or does he contradict what the climate advisor has said?” Barrasso then asked. Granholm responded that Biden has called for more domestic oil supply, and authorized more federal oil and gas leases to meet that supply.
“Well then perhaps the climate adviser then shouldn’t contradict the president after a statement that he makes,” Barrasso replied.
Granholm then claimed that the Biden administration has not held back domestic energy production, citing a survey by the Dallas Federal Reserve in which just 6% of oil and gas industry CEOs said that government regulations are restraining growth. Barrasso lambasted that claim at the end of his line of questioning. “In spite of what we’ve just heard from the Secretary, this administration has been actively discouraging and browbeating lending institutions to not loan money for this sort of thing,” Barrasso noted, “so it’s very hard to produce energy when this administration has continued to put their finger down against it.”
Later, Granholm had a tense exchange with Marshall. “The last time you filled your car up with gasoline, do you remember what the price was?” he asked.
“I drive an electric vehicle,” Granholm said curtly. Some in the room audibly laughed.
“Do you know what the price of gasoline is in Washington, D.C.?” Marshall continued.
“I know that on average, the price for gas, of a gallon of gas across the country is $4.25,” Granholm replied. Marshall said that the average price in D.C. is about $5 per gallon.
“Have your policies resulted in decreasing supply of oil and gas?” Marshall asked later in the exchange.
“No, sir,” Granholm replied, instead blaming the increase in gas prices on the Biden administration’s oil embargo. “Since oil is traded on a global market, that’s why the price has gone up,” she said.
“So you do not believe any of your policies have impacted the supply of oil and gas in this country?” Marshall asked again.
Granholm again said no, and said energy industry CEOs agreed with her, citing the same Fed survey.
Marshall took issue with Granholm’s denial, and like Barrasso, pointed out: “Folks are afraid to invest because of your policies, your overaggressive policies, and I just hope that your economists would stop and take responsibility that the decreased supply in this country is what has led to the increased price, and your policies are responsible for that … and fear of investing.”
Finally, Granholm had a heated exchange with Senator Mike Lee.
“We have to provide American energy with a silver buckshot approach, not a silver bullet approach,” Granholm said in response to a question from Lee about subsidies for “intermittent” energy sources like wind. “We have to be investing in the production of clean energy, we have to be investing in the technology to get us to those energy sources, [including] the de-carbonization of the existing fossil fuel industry.”
“Okay, de-carbonization of the existing fossil fuel industry is not your mission,” Lee cut in. “Your mission is to provide an affordable and adequate and reliable source of energy at the lowest reasonable cost. If you’re not determined to advance that mission, and in fact if you’re undertaking other efforts … then we have a problem. If the Department doesn’t wanna pursue the statutory mandate for which it was created, perhaps the department should not exist.”