Testimony as Delivered by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm
U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee
June 23, 2021
Thank you so much for inviting me to testify. Thank you to Chair Feinstein and Ranking Member Kennedy, and to the other Members of the Subcommittee.
It is truly an honor to serve as the 16th Secretary of the Department of Energy, and to make comments about the President’s 2022 budget request for the Department of Energy.
I’m very pleased to report that since January 20th, we at the Department of Energy have taken important steps toward the Department’s priorities. Our budget request, obviously, would help us to further the activities that we’ve already begun.
So far we've invested $1.5 billion to strengthen our national security and to accelerate progress toward a net-zero economy.
And much of that has gone toward improving and deploying existing, market-ready solutions—setting new goals, for example, to cut solar in half yet again, adding 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
So that’s existing—but at the same time, we’re supporting breakthroughs in clean energy. So our new Energy Earthshots Initiative will set a series of ambitious, achievable targets for commercializing emerging zero-carbon technologies.
The first one, Senator Kennedy, you’ll be happy to know, is our Hydrogen Shot. And that is setting a goal of getting the cost of clean hydrogen down to $1 per 1 kilogram in one decade.
And I’d also note that last week, we announced a $12 million funding opportunity to advance direct air capture technologies.
And yesterday, we announced a new $61 million investment on nuclear energy, which was distributed throughout the country—30 states, 99 entities got money to advance research in advanced nuclear technology.
Both of these are priorities that have been outlined in the budget proposal as well.
So, Chairwoman Feinstein, these droughts and these heatwaves and these wildfires that are plaguing the West and straining our energy system remind us yet again, of course, of the need to enhance our power grid and expand resiliency on that grid, especially to all forms of extreme weather.
And that’s why we announced in April that we’re making $8.25 billion available in loans to improve our nation’s transmission systems.
And of course, the ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline underscores the need for investment in cybersecurity on our nation’s energy infrastructure as well.
We are engaging with the private sector around strategies for hardening the critical infrastructure against ransomware and these evolving 21st-century threats.
We’re also strengthening our energy security through a multiagency effort to bolster domestic supply chains—like for lithium batteries that we need for energy storage and for electric vehicles. We released a report and a series of actions on this exact topic a couple of weeks ago.
Since January 20th, our Vehicle Technologies Office has already made $362 million available for projects that advance battery technology and reduce emissions from light and heavy-duty vehicles.
So we’re proud of our work so far. We’re grateful to this Subcommittee for making this work possible through last year’s appropriations, and we look forward to building on the progress—and let me just say, we know that if Congress were to pass the American Jobs Plan or an iteration thereof, we would be able to exponentially expand on that work.
But as the Chairwoman noted, in the meantime our budget request would invest $46 billion in these key priorities—including a 65% increase in our Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and a record $1.8 billion for our nuclear energy program, which of course will all help us to deploy clean and cheap power on a reliable and resilient grid.
The budget would also support greater research in clean energy and carbon reduction at the National Labs, and usher in greater diversity in the STEM fields.
And here, I want to thank the Senate for passing the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which authorizes the Department $17 billion in support of our efforts to keep the country competitive in a global economy.
And that funding, coupled with our budget request, is going to help the Department and our 17 National Labs put America at the forefront of clean energy innovation worldwide.
And of course, the budget will also strengthen the Department’s nuclear security mission—and I’m so glad that Dr. Verdon is here to talk about that today—and our Environmental Management program, for which we’ve asked for one of the highest levels of annual funding. And that would facilitate progress on our cleanup sites.
All told, these all represent a down payment on a cleaner and more prosperous future—but one that will not truly be fulfilled without that American Jobs Plan, the infrastructure bill that y’all are negotiating, which would position our country to compete in a global clean energy market. And it would confront the climate crisis, and create millions of good-paying jobs.
And it would also, I would say, lift up disadvantaged communities, including Tribal Nations and communities of color that have been historically burdened by pollution
And, I would say this too—it would bolster our Department’s ongoing efforts to provide fossil energy workers with real opportunities to forge careers in cleaner fossil and clean energy.
And that’s what it means to Build Back Better.
So I know the request is large, but we do believe the need is urgent. DOE will use the funding effectively, if appropriated, to tackle these big challenges.
I’m humbled by the opportunity to lead the Department, and I look forward to working with you all. And I’m happy to answer any questions you may have.