Testimony as Delivered by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm
U.S. House Committee Space, Science, and Technology
May 27, 2021
Thank you so much, Chairwoman Johnson, and thank you to Ranking Member Frank Lucas, and to all the members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
It’s a treat to be before you today, and it’s a treat to be able to share the Biden administration’s vision and priorities for the Department of Energy.
So as the 16th Secretary of Energy, it is my mission to carry out the basic science and national security efforts that have long been pivotal to the Department’s work, and at the same time driving forward the research, development, and deployment of cutting-edge clean energy technologies that are going to power our energy and economic security throughout the 21st century.
We have made a lot of progress just in a few months’ time—but we’ve also come to recognize how urgent some aspects of our work really are.
And let me just start on that score with, for example, the Colonial Pipeline issue.
As you know, on May 7th Colonial Pipeline Company fell victim to a ransomware attack that forced them to shut down their largest fuel pipeline on the East Coast, and President Biden immediately launched an interagency, whole-of-government response, which was coordinated by the Department of Energy.
And I’m proud of the quick efforts to help move those fuel supplies to the impacted areas, and of course supporting the company while they attempted to resume operations quickly and safely.
But the incident really made clear that as these systems that Americans rely on in our daily lives grow increasingly interconnected, so too do the vulnerabilities in these systems and the potential for disruption.
We have to take a wide view of the possible risks, and we have to engage every relevant part of the federal government to develop the safeguards and best practices to keep the systems that touch that critical infrastructure a step ahead of our adversaries.
So I would welcome conversations with this committee around the steps necessary to keep America’s energy system secure, and clearly the Department of Energy has a key role to play.
So, as you know, DOE has many core competencies. You all have been very busy passing bills and working in these Quantum Information Sciences, and advanced computing, and artificial intelligence—just to scratch the surface of all that we deploy at the Department, and of course led by the unparalleled research capacity of our 17 National Labs.
It is not lost on us that the members of this committee have rightly pushed to authorize the Department to advance these specialties, along with propelling advanced manufacturing and so many other areas of applied science that we excel in.
I really appreciate the Chairwoman’s great support and remarks about the importance of investing in science.
And I can just tell you, in the short time that I have been leading the Department, I am in awe of the work that our scientists and researchers are doing. So we really thank you so much for recognizing the invaluable contributions they make to their fields, but also to the nation.
So we hope to continue working in a collaborative, complementary manner with the full suite of federally-supported scientific enterprises.
The research and development work though would expand by orders of magnitude with the passage of the American Jobs Plan.
As you know, it is just a once-in-a-generation investment that would supercharge these research and development efforts around clean energy, while creating millions of good-paying jobs.
It would really launch us to the forefront of clean energy innovation worldwide.
It would ensure that American scientists are the ones making the major breakthroughs in cutting-edge technologies like carbon capture and storage and hydrogen…
The American Jobs Plan would position American entrepreneurs to take these technologies to scale, and it would give American workers the opportunity to build them in factories right here at home.
That American Jobs Plan would also deliver essential upgrades to both the brick-and-mortar facilities and the computing capabilities of our National Labs, along with other research infrastructure across the country—and it would make the necessary investments in the industries of the future.
It would also help us take major leaps over barriers to diversity in America’s STEM fields, by making long-overdue increases in support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions.
So I am so pleased to note that the President Biden’s proposed 2022 discretionary funding request would put $46.2 billion behind all of these key priorities, along with our very essential work to strengthen the Department’s nuclear security mission and advance our Environmental Management program.
So these are ambitious objectives—and yet the global march of innovation makes it imperative that we achieve them.
I am really humbled to lead the wealth of talent that we have in the Department of Energy as we work towards these ambitious goals, and I’m confident that, with your continuing partnership, we will be successful.
So thank you so much.