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tv   Energy Secretary Perry Testifies at Ovesight Hearing  CSPAN  October 16, 2017 2:58am-6:00am EDT

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in other circumstances the agency gets deference in what constitutes a particular removable offense. >> thank you, counsel, the case is submitted. >> landmark. a series of cases about the inreme court returns february. let's enjoy drama. landmark cases, beginning in february. >> energy secretary rick perry took questions on capitol hill about the administration's energy strategy. some of the topics included federal subsidies for the coal and nuclear industry and efforts to restore power to puerto rico after the recent hurricane.
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he was also asked about his use of chartered aircraft as energy secretary. this is three hours. [indiscernible] take your seats please.
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the chair will recognize himself. five minutes for the opening statement. welcome mr. secretary, it is great to have you here. the hearing will examine the department of energy management admission priorities under the leadership of secretary rick perry. i'm very pleased to welcome him this morning for his first appearance before this subcommittee. d.o.e. performs essential security missions. it plays a central role in ensuring that the nation's domestic energy security. and also stewarding america's strategic energy interests in the international markets. ensuring the nation's domestic energy security and sorting america's strategic interests in the international markets. it performs challenging cleanup operations to address its vast environmental and nuclear waste liabilities and provides key energy data and supports foundational science and technological development to advance the benefits of all forms of energy and energy delivery to ensure the long-term
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security and prosperity of americans. success of these diverse decisions requires sound management and robust authorities. success also requires focused attention and budget resources to address the most pressing priorities in light of current and anticipated energy and security situations. in this context, this hearing will help the committee gain insight into the secretary's priorities regarding the department. it also will help the secretary understand our perspective on priorities as we see as essential for doe's mission going forward. key priorities include d.o.e.'s role, the reliable supply of energy and the strategic value of our domestic energy resources and energy technologies. the changing energy landscape in the u.s. has produced profound impacts on how our national security policies and its respective departmental missions should be oriented. although we are in an era of
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domestic energy abundance, new threats to energy security have been growing and requiring more urgent attention. in the previous congress, the committ committee's work along these lines formed a mag gnat of several bills to address emerging threats and to update the policy and security priorities. we enacted legislation to support modernizing sproe to improve its emergency response capability. we enacted other provisions for d.o.e. to improve emergency preparedness for energy supply disruptions, protect energy infrastructure physical and cyber security and prioritize energy security and federal decisionmaking. we also lifted the 1970s era export restrictions on crude oil. we're continuing in this congress to move policies that enhance the delivery and supply of energy. we're also taking a comprehensive look at electricity, market structure, and recent developments and challenges for way that we generate, transmit, and consume electricity in the nation with an eye towards updating the
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relevant laws governing our electricity sector. with the able assistance of vice chair joe barton, we will be looking at just what is necessary to ensure d.o.e. is positioned for new energy and security challenges. all of these efforts aim to update the nation's energy policies to ensure more secure, reliable, and affordable energy. in recent weeks the secretary has demonstrated d.o.e.'s nationally ref really well vant roles regarding security and liability. a series of devastating hurricanes hitting texas, florida, and puerto rico highlighted the vital nature of robust systems and the emergency response capabilities. from all accounts the departments served the emergency efforts well and i look forward to learning more what d.o.e. can do to serve the interests of affected areas, particularly puerto rico prp the secretary demonstrated he is willing to take action in the area of electricity market regulations. this is an area that the energy subcommittee is currently
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engaged in with seven hearings thus far under our belt including two last week. while i reserve judgment on the policy solutions the fact that the secretary stepped into this complicated debate reflects the current need to have a broader conversation about the functioning of the nation's electricity markets, whether it be severe weather interventions through the tax code or through federal and state and environmental policies and mandates, all have played a complicated role in the market driven economic outcomes affecting the generation profile of the power grid. reliability and resiliency are important attributes to begin the conversation, but none of these issues can be addressed in a vacuum as economics, technology, security, and how do to address other externalities such as environmental attributes all will have a role to play. we look forward to working with d.o.e. and ferc on these issues as we oversee the process, the rise of seiber, transformation of power generation, the regulatory challenges that
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continue to affect the cost and availability of all energy, all require a strong voice on national energy policy. that is what congress envisioned for d.o.e. 40 years ago, and it is still important today. i yield to my friend and colleague the vice chair of the subcommittee, mr. rush from illinois. five minutes. he switched parties overnight. it's the front page of politico, the ranking member. i know he probably preferred to be vice chair. >> not vice chair plaintiff's exhibit chairman. i want to switch parties to become a svice chair. mr. chairman, thank you is much for holding this long overdue hearing on the department of energy's missions and management priorities. mr. secretary, you have the distinction of being the first
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agency head of the current administration to actually come before this subcommittee. i also want to thank you for gracing us with your presence here today. mr. chairman, as we know, a budget proposal highlights the priorities within an agency, and i must say that i have many, many concerns with the fy-2018 budget proposal put forth by this administration. for starters, there are devastating proposed cuts to some of the most federal investment in clean energy programs, power grid operations, next gen energy technologies, and cyber tech management for energy assistance. the president e's d.o.e. budget [ inaudible ] and renewable
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energy by 70% while eliminating assistance completely. mr. secretary, as a former governor, i'm sure you understand that getting rid of -- so many low-income families nationwide is a nonstarter for me and many members of congress on both sides of the aisle. initially, mr. chairman, the research of this agency -- also be terminated in the president's budget, although it makes absolutely no sense to eliminate a program that's spurs innovative energy technologies that could lead to major advancement in how we produce, store, and consume energy. these findings have led to $1.8 billion in private funding and
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launched more than 50 new companies since its inception. additionally, the office of science with 17 national laboratories would face a $1 million or 17% decrease from fy-17 levels namely impacting the world's largest single investment in basic research. mr. chairman, while i am concerned regarding the leadership in these labs and the agency itself for that matter, i cannot support the steep cuts proposed in the president's budget. the budget proposal would even cut energy research by more than half. even as the president has sold his support es on the idea of saving coal. mr. chairman, instead of trying
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to tip the scales and deal with any specific industry as the most recent ill-advised -- it makes more sense to invest in the technologies of the future to create jobs at home which also can be sold overseas. mr. chairman, i look forward to hearing secretary perry's vision for the 21st century and -- majority of stake holders that we have heard from during our entire power america series. these expert who is represent technology companies, consumer advocate groups all agree that customer behavior is a driving
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force in shaping what the world will look like in the future. these consumer-driven trends include access to native and more control over their energy use, a greater demand for cleaner, renewable sources of energy to compete with traditional fossil fuels and increase in this generation battery storage and demand resources, more energy efficiency initiatives as well as a demand for lower energy costs. so, mr. chairman, i really look forward to engaging secretary perry on this vision for his department that some wanted to infamously abolish. i yield back. >> chair recognizes the chairman of the full energy commerce committee for an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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mr. secretary, welcome to the energy and commerce committee. we're delighted to have you here to share your thoughts and view with us and answer your questions. we appreciate your leadership. i understand the d.o.e. held a ceremony yesterday to celebrate its 40th birthday as cabinet agency. i think you'd have to agree lots has changed in this country and in the world since congress created the department of energy, especially in the national security and energy security space where d.o.e. provides critical functions for country. while the domestic and international energy posture is substantially different from the 1970s i do not believe the importance of d.o.e.'s role serving the nation and public interest has diminished. this past august secretary perry joined me at an energy roundtable with local officials and energy leaders at mcnary damn in oregon wh which plo pro-deuces power for bonneville power administration. secretary perry i did not leave the county without one of our
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famous watermelons which i know you enjoyed. the best in the world. i believe secretary perry also left with a greater appreciation of the tremendous zero carbon emitting power resource that's helping grow the economy throughout the northwest and in oregon pip think you learned texas wasn't the only big open wide space around that poses difficulties getting to as we crisscrossed the great northwest. the next day i had the pleasure of accompanying the secretary to d.o.e.'s north wes national laboratory then to the hanford site up the cluster bomb "columbia" river from my own district in oregon. couple of observations from that visit are pertinent for today. first it was evident that abundant energy was critical to the success of hanford's operations which built nuclear reactors and produced plutonium. second, hanford and its cleanup operations led to advances in
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engineering practices, research and development and scientific activity necessary for the site's safe and secure operations. i was pleased to see the improvements being made in the cleanup there. that hadn't always been the case. these advances led to development of a world class national laboratory and today the pacific northwest national lab in collaboration and partnership with d.o.e.'s 16 other national laboratories, they're spread out in remote places around the world or the country, provide scientific and technical breakthroughs to meet our national security and energy security needs from securing our electric grid to advancing storage technologies. so as we examined the d.o.e. management and mission priorities today, build on the work they've asked vice chairman barton to undertake with you to look at what a 21st century energy department should look like, weshtd keep in mind the benefits of the interconnected nature of the department's missions. but these missions can be
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expensive and difficult to manage. so it is the responsibility of the secretary and this committee and congress to ensure the department is appropriately aligned to perform these missions in a cost effective manner and to the maximum benefit of the taxpayer. chairman upton has indicated the energy threats today are not same as those from the 1970s but they remain significant. the opportunities do as well. this committee will work in the coming months and through this congress to ensure the department's organization and missions are aligned with the energy security challenges of our generation. as i said at my direction the vice chairman, not vice president, has already started to facilitate in coordination with the energy subcommittee work tone sure that d.o.e. resources are focused on a core mission of nuclear and energy security, environmental remediation, mission enabling science and r&d programs. at the same time, the committee will be examining expired d.o.e. authorizations, many of which
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expired a decading a tone sure more program alignment. i look toward forward to your testimony and it will be help to feel both sides in our work here in the energy and commerce committee. i'd also like to ask you to address the recent questions thatch arisen regarding travel expenditures as part of your discussion with our committee today. in closing, i look forward to working closely with d.o.e. and my colleagues as well as we ensure the agency is positioned appropriately for the energy security challenges that lie ahead. again, we're delighted to have you here today, mr. secretary. have enjoyed working with you along the way and we look forward to your testimony and the answers to our questions. a yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from new jersey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, secretary perry to the committee. we're pleased to finally have you here. after all it's now the middle of october and you were the first cabinet member we of had before
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us this year so, i hope this is the start of a trend. mr. secretary, there is certain lay lot for us to discuss today, particularly your recent proposal to upend competitive electricity markets by providing unduly preferential rates to coal and other base load generation. the substance of that proposal has serious flaws in my opinion, under the guise of the crisis of grid reliability, this proposal props up coal and nuclear generation with the goal of from texting fuel secure plants that have 90 days of fuel stored on site. the d.o.e.'s own grid report issued earlier this year stated that electricity markets, i quote, currently function as designed to ensure reliability and minimize the short-term costs of wholesale electricity. furthermo furthermore, recent study and major electricity outages found that between 2012 and 2016 less than a frx of 1% were due to fuel supply problems. so the majority of outages are actually caused by severe weather impacting the
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distribution system, a problem exacerbated by climate change. so this leads me to questions of motivation behind the proposal, and to that end i'm sending you a letter today asking far detailed accounting of the process you used to develop this proposal, encolluding the records of the meeting you and your staff had and the taxpayer funds spent developing a proposal that seems directed in helping a select group of favored energy sources. it's an ironic proposal considering that epa administrator prewitt stated as part of his announcement in rolling back the clean power plant -- again quoting -- that regulatory power should not be used by any regulatory body to pick winners and losers. but there secretary, that's exactly what you're doing here. you're distorting the market, damaging the environment, and delivering preferential treatment to favored industries and at the end of the day killing off competitive electricity markets just to save generation assets that are no longer economical will lead to higher prices for consumers.
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if you're truly concerned about reliability and resilience, the discussion we need to have should center around the nearly 90% of u.s. citizens of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands who are without power. the electricity grid of puerto rico and much of the u.s. virgin islands is badly damaged and we must rebuild them to be stronger and more resilient than before maria struck. we can't simply replace outdated infrastructure with the same materials and the same technologies as we did after hurricane sandy. this is an opportunity to modernize the grid in these areas so we're more prepared for the next storm that will inevitably strike. this all requires congressional action and the federal government must act so puerto rico and the virgin islands can rebuild stronger. this morning after seeing the president's latest tweets, i'm concerned that the president simply does not understand the scope of the devastation in puerto rico and will follow through on his threats to remove fema from the island well before it has recovered. finally, i know chairman waldon mentioned this earlier, i
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continue to be concerned by the amount of money this administration is spending when it comes to noncommercial travel for members of the cabinet and their staff. when the reports first came to light regarding your colleagues at hhs and epa, i asked the inspector general at those agencies to conduct an investigation and they agreed and those investigations are taking place, but today in light of the $50,000 you spent in taxpayer dollars for noncommercial travel, i'm making a similar request to the energy department's inspector general. and this is of particular concern given the extreme budget cuts that the trump administration proposed for upcoming fiscal year including successful programs that hem everyday americans. i know that chairman waldon mentioned it today, but he also mentioned it at one of our mark-ups earlier this week that this investigation is something that the committee will look into. so i appreciate that, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i appreciate your willingness to testify before our committee today and hope to weather with you going forward. this type of hearing is critical
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to making our government work better and i hope we will see you here again and hope we'll see some of the other cabinet secretaries and agency representatives as well. thank you. i yield back. >> gentleman yields back. at this point we welcome the secretary's testimony. it is made part of the record in its entirety. we'll let you summarize it. following that we'll do questions from the dais. welcome again. thank you. turn that mike on. >> ranking member rush, it's my privilege to be in front of you and the other members of the committee. i'm proud to be able to represent this administration in front of you, proud to represent the department of energy. it's been a couple months since i appeared before congress and i want to take this opportunity to highlight progress that we make
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towards achieving our goals at d.o.e. i'll make every respect to be brief and request my full remarks are inserted in the record. i'd like to start this morning by mentioning how refreshing it is to see a subject energy policy that has so much bipartisan support in this congress. i look toward to working with you. since taking office, my priorities for d.o.e. have focused on reorienting with the department of energy on its core missions, ensuring america
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energy security, addressing legacy management and nuclear waste. we're making solid progress towards these goals but there's much to be done. there is a distinct role for congress to play in supporting our work and isle look forward to our ongoing cooperation. our work together on energy and security policy is paramount for america to exert leadership necessarily both here at home and abroad. let me talk for a moment if i could about america's energy security. america's economic and national security depends on our energy security. we're putting the united states in a more stable and secure position to address the domestic energy needs by establishing reasonable and reliable energy policies. we realize that energy security begins at home.
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we have taken concerted steps to address years of insufficient action regarding friday resilience and reliability. the department addresses not only man made challenges to our grid's reliability but those of natural disasters as well. the department's played a critical role in the coordinated federal response to recent natural disasters. we of been in almost daily contact with our industry partners since hurricane harvey began to threaten the gulf coast, and that coordination continues to the day. we currently have more than two dozen technicians from d.o.e. and the aern area power administration in the virgin islands. we'll have almost 30 in puerto rico in the coming days. we'll continue to support the work to restore power in the virgin islands and puerto rico.
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not only are we e dedicated to our recovery efforts in the south and east but, turning our focus to the west. we're working closely with our partners in california who are now facing historic impacts of these recent wildfires. i'd like to switch over to and speak about innovation just a moment if i could. and d.o.e.'s role in innovation and advancing science, which is a key part of our mission. as chairman waldon mentioned, we had our 40th anniversary of the creation of d.o.e. yesterday, 40 years of energy innovation, and that's a perfect description of what d.o.e. has been doing since its inception in 1977. energy security we americans enjoy and take for granted would not have been possible without american ingenuity and clear
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focus on innovation, mr. rush, as you point to in your remarks. i'm very proud of the advancements that d.o.e. research and development have spurred and much from our national lab system. our national labs have put a distinctly american stamp on the last century of science. in fact, near lay third of all nobel prize-winning work in the fields of physics and chemistry are d.o.e. associated or sponsored, and there's a pretty impressive show from my perspective of the investment that you all have made in the labs and the previous years. let me switch over to the national security issue through nuclear science. and i want to touch just briefly what i think is an incredibly important issue facing our department today and that's nuclear security. as a member of the national
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security council, i have a unique and a vital role in ensuring our nation's security. and i undertake these responsibilities with the utmost gravity. for more than 70 years, a cornerstone of our national security strategy has been a credible and reliable nuclear capability. this strategy has served the united states and our allies well. our work on nonproliferation is equally important. the department's national security -- excuse me -- national nuclear security administration is a leader in our nation's efforts to ensure nuclear weapons and materials do not fall into the hands of rogue regimes or terrorists. in short, we seek to deny nuclear capability to those who are not friendly to the united states while reinforcing the america idea that we are a staed fast ally to peaceful nations.
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let me shift over to legacy management if i may, and nuclear waste issue. the national security mission comes with a final responsibility, and it's the department's environmental management side. every secretary of energy upon confirmation has met with the size and the scope of the department's cleanup mission. it is staggering in its scope and its size. it is our solid obligation to clean up the weapons programs, the sites, the communities that helped us win world war ii and the cold war. my direction has been to put d.o.e. on a final path to achieving the cleanup mission across our enterprise more safe, more streamlined, sooner, and at less cost to taxpayers. tle's more work to be done, and
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we will need congress's assistance in order to achieve our environmental management goals and streamline state regulations. the department of energy from my per sspective has another obligation, a moral only gags, to advance solutions for the long-term disposal and storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. the american people deserve a solution to this problem and we can no longer kick the can down the road. i'd like to commend this committee for their leadership on this issue. this committee's bipartisan approval of a nuclear waste policy bill by an overwhelming 49-4 vote stands as a clear example to the american people that we can work together and look forward to finally finding a path forward.
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mr. chairman, if i may to address chairman walden's issue of this travel issue that has cropped up and been in media and kwhaf you, and i want to address it from straight on as a former governor of a fairly good-sized entity, i totally understand the idea of having oversight on travel to spend our money appropriately, thoughtfully. i was the agriculture commissioner of the state of texas for an eight-year period of time. southwest airlines does not go to dumas, texas, and so, you know, there are multiple ways you can get there. you can drive. boy, it takes a while. i guess you could take a bus.
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i suppose you could even hitchhike. you can get there, but you're not going to get much work done. and the point is a lot of these jobs are different from the standpoint -- and d.o.e. is kind of unique in that sense. and when leslie groves was choosing the places to start national labs and to do the manhattan project, he wanted to go places that were pretty difficult to get to. hanford's one of those. and when you think about where our national labs are and the places they've been required to go and will continue to go to to do my job -- and i might add during my confirmation hearing and in front of senators and obviously going and speaking to a number of you, almost every member invited me to come to their district, to come see what you have in your district so, see what you have in your district. and i'm oblige dodd that. and so it's going to require
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travel. one place i went, mr. pilon, and this is in the report that you have, i was -- i was invited and accepted to go to a mine that is dealing with rare earth minerals in hazelton, pennsylvania, with another stop the next day to spend the entirety of that day in portsmouth, ohio, with senator -- with the senator. and the point is it's really difficult for us to have gotten there without taking that private aircraft to hazelton. i mean, you can get there. i'm not -- i'm not going to tell you you can't. but to conduct the business -- and i think we've looked at this closely, we've been thoughtful about how we did it, we haven't -- i mean, i'm a
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frequent flier on southwest airlines and united. and the last time i was on united i think i was on seat 10-d. and there's nothing wrong with seat 10-d. it's a good place to be. it gets there about the same time as 1-a. but the point is i travel a lot to do my job. i do it in a way that i think is thoughtful with the taxpayers in mind, i did it for 30 years as house member, as an agriculture commissioner, as the governor of texasen texas, and now as the secretary of energy, and i'm going to continue to do my job. i'm going to make my commitment to you that i'm going to try to do it in the most thoughtful and the most reasonable way to do that, but realizing that from time to time if i'm going to be in those places and we're going to be there in a timely fashion, we may have to do it in a way that does expend some taxpayers dollars.
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but i hope at the end of that process i can look back and say, you know what, these folks did a good job of expnding our dollars and getting the job done, and i think that's really the goal here. so let me just finish by saying to each of you, thank you for allowing me to come and toe goa. so let me just finish by saying to each of you, thank you for allowing me to come and to inviting me to share my vision of what co. d.o.e.'s opportunities are in the future. i look forward to working with every member of in committee. gene green and i have been working together now for coming on -- a long time, 35 years or so. and we'll continue to be a partner with each of you as we find the places that we can serve the american people. and again, thank you for your -- thank you for your service. thank you for your standing up and saying that you're willing
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to sacrifice much to serve this country. thank you, sir. >> thank you, mr. secretary. we e appreciate your testimony. at this point we'll engage questions alternating between republicans and depths for the short term here. mr. secretary, as you know, the grid resiliency, notice of proposed rule making that was issued two weeks ago as attracted lots and lots of attention. this august, d.o.e.'s staff report recommended that ferc expedite its efforts with the rtos and isos to improve energy formation. two quick questions. what prompted doh do to act under section 403? and would it be fair to say that d.o.e. exercised its authority under section 403 because there is a level of urgency that wasn't perhaps being addressed elsewhere?
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>> mr. chairman, the base reason we asked for this, for ferc to take a look at this and ta to act is that for years this has been kicked down the road, if you lp. mr. olson has in his time being in congress, has looked at this issue. as a number of you have. pete i, we've had this conversation about the resiliency, the reliability of our grid and making sure -- and i give you one good example, those of you who are from the northeast, the idea that -- let me back up. one of many my great concerns as the governor of texas back some years ago, before we were making the transition to substantially more and cleaner generation of
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power, kind of in between the shell gas revolution and getting those plants built, we had some brownouts in dallas, texas, and central texas and parts of the center of texas. when it's 108 degrees and your grandmother's house loses electricity, there are some people calling the governor going what in the hell are you doing or why haven't you taken care of this? one of the things as an elected official, i never wanted to have to explain to somebody why we didn't are the vision to put into place a reliable and a resilient electrical power system, and we started working really hard, and urcot, our grid in the state of texas -- and i think we put in place both the generation and the distribution to be able to never e have to have that call. and when the polar vortex came into the northeast back in 2014
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and that event occurred, i don't think any of you want to have to stand up in front of your constituents and explain why the decision had to be on turning our lights on or keeping our family warm. and so making sure that there is that resiliency there, that there is that fuel on the ground, on the plant facility itself, i happen to think is really important, not only from a personal security standpoint, the good will of your citizens, but also national security standpoint and those military bases that are in that port of the world. so with that as a background, mr. chairman, i think having this conversation -- and that's what i wanted to do. as i got into this and astarted taking a look at it and grasping this issue better, i realized that one of the ways that we
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could have this national discussion was to send this 403 forward to ferc for them to consider -- >> you know what the timetable is going to be? >> sorry. do you know what their timetable is going to be? >> i don't know v i don't. >> i know they're an independent agency, but i just -- >> 60 days is i think the -- >> great. so the recent hurricanes raised the importance of energy security. we're all very troubled with that what's happened. earlier this year, mr. rush and i passed a bipartisan bill, hr-3050, emergency preparedness act. the bill reauthorities an important program that helps states prepare for hazards such as hurricanes. what has the state energy program and the state energy assurance planning played in the recent hurricane response efforts?
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>> we learned something new in every disaster. that was one of my lessons as the governor of the state of texas for 14 years, and we had a number of major events. none as impactful as harvey. i don't believe during that 14-year period of time there was a storm of any greater consequence for florida than irma and certainly what puerto rico and the vi vu argin island facing today. but each of these we've learned a new lesson in, and i think it's important for the governors of those states to come forward working with our counterparts at fema, at the other agencies of government that are dealing with this to give us new ideas and to hopefully bring forward, here's solutions -- here's something
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you've never faced before. puerto rico is a very, very unique challenge. i'll give you one example. when texas and florida or any other state for that matter, you could preposition your utility and just as an aside, each of you have utility companies in your districts. the men and women who volunte volunteered and in many cases to go into harm's way into texas, into florida and preposition and go in and get those -- get that electric power back on in record time, there were some 60,000 utility workers in florida. i hope you will pass on to them your great respect for the work that those utility workers did. this was -- it was herculean from my perspective. but i think t's really important for us to take these lessons learned and then forward them so
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that the federal government can be more efficient as we deal with the next e event that occurs. >> i know my time is expired so i will yield to the ranking member of the subcommittee. i just want to say we intend to have a hearing in the next couple weeks as to the lessons that we may hopefully have learned based on those hurricanes. yield to the ranking member of the subcommittee, mr. rush. snipt to thank you, mr. chairman. secretary perry, the issue including the subtitle, quote, nerc warns that premature retirement of fuel secure generation reliability and resiliency of the most powerful system in the world. however, mr. secretary, the study that was conducted by your own agency indicated that fuel
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diversity made the grid more reliable and the ceo of nerc testified in june stating, and i quote, the state of reliability in north america remains strong and the trend lines shows continuing improvement year over year, end quote. mr. secretary, how did you arrive t the conclusion that with 90 days of on-site fuel are somehow more reliable and resilient than other sources of generation and therefore should receive additional compensation? >> mr. rush, thank you. one of the things that i think is really important is that your life experiences kind of inform you about future events.
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and this is a great example of it. and i respect the ferc mens' views that -- i think their picture is one that is a snapshot in time. there's blue skies. you know, the sun is shining, the wind's blowing, the pipelines are carrying gas. i mean, all of those things are, you know, what we consider to be normal operating procedure, and in that scenario our grid is fairly -- well, it's reliable and it's resilient. but that's not the world that i of been asked to participate in is to oversee normalcy, to oversee the everyday blue sky, wind blowing scenario. what i think one of my roles is to think outside of the box.
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and when we talk about a base load and we talk about -- no one in the country was involved with developing wind energy in a greater way than i was while i was the governor of the state of texas. we created inside that state and helped develop more wind energy than produced than five countries by -- and this happened during the 2000s. so my commitment to an all of the above energy strategy is not just some words and it's not just theory. there is a real track record of how we've helped create the diversity. i brought that to the department of energy. the president elect, when we v he asked me to come serve in this role, knew that record of mine when i came there, and that wasn't going to change. i'm still committed to an all of the above. but the wind doesn't always
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blow. the sun doesn't always shine. the gas pipelines don't always -- they can't guarantee you every day that that supply is going to be there. >> in all fairness, secretary, are you saying the chairman of nerc is -- you know, [ inaudible ] are you saying that your gut feeling is showing a rationale against the study that you would take position that you're taking now over -- seems like you're saying my gut feeling has more -- my gut feeling is something -- rather than what an expert said. my gut feeling. am i reaching the right
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conclusion here? >> i -- i can't answer with definity what the conclusion is, but i can tell you that i think it's okay -- you know, you and i might disagree from time to time on a particular position. but i hope what we can agree upon is that the 403 that i put forward was a way to kick-start a national discussion about resiliency and about reliability of the grid. and best i can tell, we're pretty successful in doing that, sir. we're having this conversation now that we rally haven't had in this country, and i think it's important for us to do it. we're not always going to agree. i'm not going to agree complete completely with the ferc chairman, but i hope that we can have this very thoughtful, respectful conversation about making sure, you know, no member
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of congress has to stand up in front of their constituents explaining to people why the electricity wasn't on, why they weren't able to keep their constituents, you know, safe and comfortable in their homes because we didn't make the right decisions dealing with national energy policy to make sure that we have a broad all of the above energy strategy in this country. >> the chair would recognize the vice chair, gentleman from texas, mr. barton, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome, goc nor, secretary, friend. texas a&m when i was in a&m. this your first exposure i think to the house. first exposure to our committee. what you're going to find out is those of us that are known by name are going to be a little
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more friendly, those that have a "d" are a little more frisz di r i can, but we're all on your side. we all want a good robust energy policy and nuclear policy for america. >> yes, sir. >> now, i've got questions about policy since the chairman has asked me on a bipartisan basis to put together an energy department reauthorization bill, and that's what i'm going to focus on. but i want to put this thing about travel to bed. how many times have you flown on chartered flights as secretary of energy? >> one. >> one. and that was to hazelton, pennsylvania. is that correct? >> en route to portsmouth, ohio. >> and that was at the request of a member of congress, is that not correct? >> correct. a member of the senate. >> and to your knowledge, you violate nod federal law. >> that is correct. >> and you fully disclosed it to the appropriate sources within
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d.o.e. and the accounting departments and all this. >> and in addition i might say ran it through all of the appropriate historic ways to get that approval. >> but you understand that generally we expect, just as we have to, as members of congress, when we fly, when at all possible we fly commercial. you understand that. and i assume you understand that too. >> yes, sir. and i of been a good frequent flier. >> all right. now, i happen to know that you and your sweet wife, anita, have a place up here, you but you all have a place you call home outside of austin, texas, and that on most weekends you like to g back to texas. is that not correct? >> that's my goal. i can't say that every weekend -- >> i didn't -- >> we have some international travel is -- cuts into that from time to time. but my goal is to go back to round top, texas. just out of curiosity -- >> as often as i can.
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>> -- what get from washington, d.c. to austin, texas and what airplane do you use? >> i make southwest airlines pretty happy. >> southwest airlines. >> yes, sir. >> that's the -- that's the low fare transfarency airline. how many times do you think you've used southwest since you've been cabinet secretary? >> i have no idea. i'm sure somebody has a record. >> more than one. >> oh, dozens of times, sir. >> i think we're okay if the energy secretary flies southwest airlines to texas and flies kme commercial when at all possible but every now and then when you're going to, you know, all the 17 national laboratories that are out therein remote pla intentionally, if it's expedient and doesn't violate federal law
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that on occasion you use a charter flight. i think doe has planes of their own. i don't know what the protocol for the cabinet secretary to use the planes within your own agency, but there are government planes under your control. is that correct? >> that is correct. for instance, to get to hanford, out next to chairman walden's district, commercial flight to seattle, and then from seattle down to hanford is a pretty good hike. it's on the very -- >> if the reporter wants to catch you in a flight, he's got a better shot at catching you at the southwest airlines counter than at some -- >> i think there are multiple pks of p pictures of me on the drudge report on southwest airlines. >> and it's okay to fly american. we'll let you fly american, united.
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southwest is based in dallas texas. >> i've been on all of those carriers as well. mr. chairman, i think the real key here is what i shared with mr. palone is that my intention will be to be as sensitive to this as we can be and i totally respect congress oversight capacity here and what have you and what i would offer you, sir, is that i think you sent a letter asking for the breakdown of the travel. what i would like to do with your permission is direct the agency as well to look back at the previous secretary's travel in recent memory to look and see if our travel is pretty much in line with what secretary -- >> look at secretary hazel o leery's travel on party jets. internationally.
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and do not do what she did. my time's expired. >> gentleman's time is expired. at least if you continue to fly southwest, no one will a accuse you of flying first class. >> that's an argument that can be made, sir. >> hopefully he gets in boarding group one. southwest is a first class airline. >> i have questions for the record but i'll submit them. gentleman's time is expired. chair will recognize the ranking member of the full committee. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to ask you about puerto rico, secretary. as of yesterday afternoon it's estimated that only approximately 10.6% of puerto rico's resident have electricity. this represents a decrease because in recent days there was a fall on a transmission line. it's our responsibility to help the people and the u.s. virgin islands as they work to prepare
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their damaged electricity grid. it's important to remember these are american citizens without power. judging by the president's tweets i'm object sure he grasp that. he seems to be talking about puerto rico as if it were some foreign country where we had deployed humanitarian aid. i know doe has staff on the ground. you stated more than two dozen technicians from doe and the western area power administration are on the groundworking to restore power. there are three other power administrations under the auspices of doe. there are models of how the federal government can be help in providing power to u.s. citizens. there are any technicians or staff from bonville, southeastern or southwestern power authorities in the u.s. virgin island? if not are there plans to deploy additional personnel? >> certainly we're not interested in pushing people out just for the sake of pushing people out just to check off a
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box that says we have people there. i think a thoughtful approach to this which i'm quite comfortable that we have a thoughtful approach to this. one of the things that i will share with you is this is a really different disaster. as i shared with the committee in my previous remarks, every disaster is different in some way. puerto rico is very, very different for a lot of reasons, the least of which is not that the electric, the public utility company in puerto rico was already in bankruptcy month before this storm ever hit. so this storm really complicated the issue. i don't want to -- >> that's all right. i appreciate it. >> but the point is we've got the core of engineers, the first time in my memory, and you may know better than me, but the
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first time in my memory that the core of engineer has been pushed into place to get this rebuild going. i also know that there are a substantial amount of private sector utilities that are ready, willing, and able to go into puerto rico as well as the contracting process occurs to get that country back. but from early on we said this is not going to be like getting texas electricity back on or getting florida's electricity back on. this one's going to be a challenge. the commitment from this administration and certainly from doe is to do this thought fully, look at it, and make a decision about what is the best rebuild from the standpoint of improving their -- the infrastructure there so that when the next storm comes, and there will be a next storm sometime, that we don't have the same result. >> i just want to get to a second question.
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if you could get back to me through the chairman about whether our technicians are staffed from these other power marking administrations or if there's some way to employ them so that they are there if they're not. >> yes, sir. >> the second question i have, and i have to go through this quickly is that it goes to the notice of proposed rule making. many companies have been retiring or other proposing retirements of their coal and nuclear fleets simply because it makes the most economic sense and there are marketplace dynamics that contradict the premise behind doe's notice of proposed rule making and the staff report on electricity markets reliability issued by doe in august does not support the basis of the no poor. so it's short on details as to how this deal would work even though it changes you on wholesale electricity markets operate. my question is you have called the doe national lab crown's jewels. you've relied on them to do the
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doe grid study. what specific analysis or model runs did you have the national labs or the information administration prepare to determine the full impacts of your proposal before it was released? i'm just concerned that this data differs compared to the data used in the doe grid study in august. to what extent did you take into consideration these other suggestions that seem to contradict your proposed rule making? >> i'm not sure i consider them to be contradict toory. i don't know whether the grid study that we pit order earlier in the year addresses with specificity the events that i'm concerned about and the events that i'm concerned about and i don't want to go back and beat this horse again, but a polar vortex that we had 2014 that had the potential to be devastating to the northeast.
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the idea that those nuclear and those coal plants should be part of that mix, i happen to think they should be. i can make the argument that if you lose those coal fields in the northeast and you lose the ability to have the power that they currently produce, you can never replace that or you can't do it in certainly a timely way. and so my point with this is i want to drive this conversation because as mr. olson and i had discussed earlier, this has been talked about a lot, but there hasn't been any action. i want to try to push this country to take action so that we don't face that event in the future where people's lives are put in jeopardy or where this
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country's national security is jeopardized because we just refuse to buy into the concept that we needed a very diverse energy portfolio. that's really at the basis of this, mr. pallone, is i want to have -- i wanted this country to go through exactly what we're going through right now, which is an open thoughtful conversation about our grid resiliency and reliability. >> mr. chairman, can i just ask if he could get back to us with any analysis or runs that they had the national labs or the energy information administration prepare before their proposal was released? >> if he can provide that for the record, that would be great. chair would recognize the vice chair of the sub kmacommittee, mr. olson from texas. >> i thank the chair. howdy, governor perry. i'm so sorry.
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14 years as my governor, it's a hard habit to break. howdy, secretary perry. >> yes, sir. >> you've come aboard, my friend, at a very historic time. power sources are changing rapidly. in these changes you've proposed that furk act as the value power sources with a slight preference for nuclear cool. mission accomplished. the response probably makes you feel like the aggie of all aggies. colonel earl rudder, class of 1932, climbing chose cliffs with fire coming down all around him. a friend of ours said, quote,
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the administration has declared war on natural gas. end quote. and attacks are coming that said you prefer government control over the free markets. we both know that's a pile of evil long horn poo-poo. we both know, familiar with each other for 30 years in austin, texas. there's been no bigger proponent of the free market for energy than governor rick perry. you, as our governor, foster the shell boom with the shell plate outside of ft. worth. as our governor, you made texas number one with power in america in the world. the south texas power plant, nuclear plant there in bay city took a direct hit from hurricane
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harvey. never flickered. power kept flowing. but 90 miles north of there in my district, the parish power plant has eight generators, four coal, four natural gas, had to shut down all four coal because it got the coal all wet. again, you've done it your whole life, support a diversified american portfolio of energy. i just want to ask you, you talk about the biggest problems you face, what you're trying to change in markets today. what are you trying to address with these changes? >> well, you said it veearly ons to have this conversation and that's what we're doing. i think there is a free market in electrical generation. it's not a bit of a fallacy. it is a fallacy. every state regulates the industry. it's the reason we have a puc.
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there are different phases. there are different states of regulation. and each state has to decide what -- which is the best one back in the late 1990s, i believe it was in the 90 -- in the late 90s, we've decided we were going to start a deregulation of the electrical industry in the state of texas. basically what deregulation means is competition. that's the issue there is to let these companies be more competitive and less regulated by the government, the state government in this case. and so the previous administration i think it is fair to say they had a particular philosophical favorite in the energy industry and they put their thumb on that scale. i think there's probably multi
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decades of either disregard or whatever, and i'm not going to sit here and tell you i know why the nuclear energy industry was disregarded the way that it was. but we -- here's the challenge that we have in this country today on the nuclear side of things. if we're going to continue to be a lead ner in nuclear energy in the world, we have to support this industry in this country. and the question, mr. chairman, is do we have a national security interest in the nuclear industry. i think the answer is yes. if we do, then we have to make sure that we are supporting that industry because if we don't, if we lose our supply chain, if we lose our intellectual chain of supply of bright scientists because we basically pushed the nuclear industry back, then we're going to lose our role as a leader when it comes to
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nuclear energy in the world and that in turn is going to affect our ability to address the weapon side of it. so these are all interconnected. i think making sure that we have, you know, an all of the above energy strategy, that is as free market as it can be, pete. i mean, you're correct. but the idea that there is a free market in the energy industry is a fallacy. >> gentleman's time is expired. >> one request, sir. beat lsu. yield back. >> your time really is expired now. chairman recognize the gentleman from california. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you mr. secretary. i want to thank you for your interest in veterans issues and look forward to collaborating with you on that. i do want to say up front your budget proposes cuts in programs i care deeply about, energy reliability, science, innovative technology and loan guarantee
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and energy source. now, these programs i feel are necessary for our nation's economy and our national security. let me ask you this. do you think the climate change is any way a threat on our nation? >> yes, sir. i do. if i could -- go ahead and ask questions. >> that was my question. >> yes. >> do you see relation between the weather events we've had and climate change? >> most likely, yes, sir. before we take a lot of time on this issue, let me just say that we're probably going to agree that it's happening. we're going to agree that it's going to have an effect on the globe. i think where we mayor may not agree is just how much of this is man's fault and our decisions that we're going to make here. i don't believe that we need to
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be making decisions that could put america at a very disadvantaged around the globe making decisions that we think might have an impact on climate change. i was in the senate and one of the senators said that, you know, man may -- excuse me, climate change was 100% man's fault. i don't believe that. i don't believe that climate change is 100% man's fault. are we having an impact on it? absolutely. can we make a difference? you bet. just like we did in the state of texas where knox went down 15%. we had 19% decrease in our carbon footprint. at the same time we led the nation in the creation of job production. you have economic growth and address your climate in a positive way. and i hope that's what we all can work on together. >> we can. but it seems to me that the risk
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of climate change is bigger than the risk of reducing carbon admissions. there's a pretty good tradeoff in my mind about that. but let me go on to the next question n. your remarks you mention the real in innovation and advancing science. can you explain that? >> yes, sir. i'll give you a higher level observation about budgets. i've done budgets since 1985 as a member of the appropriations committee and the statehouse. i was an agency head for eight years and i was the governor of texas for 14 years. the early part of every session and we only met 140 days every other year, so it's a really cool concept. but the governor put a budget forward. generally the budget's governors -- excuse me, the governor's budgets were pretty good doorstops.
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i'm not saying that's how you all look at a president's budgets but i will tell you i know how this process works. >> i thank you for the observation, secretary. now, we had a hearing last week of energy producers and every single supplier said that the market should value their product fairly and be open to competition. and that that would give the best result in terms of reliability and resiliency. do you agree with that? >> in the -- in the myth cal world i would agree with that. in the real world, that's not the case. as i shared with mr. olson, i don't think that you have this perfect free market world. i mean, we subsidize a lot of different energy sources.
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we subsidize wind energy and ethanol and solar. we subsidize oil and gas. and so the idea -- the question is how do you make it as fair as you can? we're probably going to argue about that. i mean, mr. chairman upton and i would probably have some disagreements about the perfect way to put a system into place. that's what we're doing here. that was really kind of my goal with this 403 is to get us to talking about the whole idea and the understanding that we have subsidized the energy industry for a long time. i don't -- i frankly don't have a problem with that. if the concept of a free market is you're not going to have any impact except the market, supply and demand, straight up pure, i
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don't know if i want to bet my grandmother's or someone's grandmother's safety and security on whether or not the lights are going to come on on a pure, you know, totally and absolutely unregulated -- >> i'm interpreting this as saying that ferc should not be fuel neutral in a real world. my time is up. >> i'm saying ferc ought to have an open conversation with all of us about how do we make sure that we can keep electricity as affordable and accessible as we can and at the same time making sure that the reliability and the resiliency of that grid is in place so that if there is another polar vortex and if, you know, if this whole climate issue and the storms and all of this goes into your line of thought process here, we're probably going to have another one. and if we are, shouldn't it be our responsibility to make sure
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that when your constituents flip the lights on that they're not having to make a difference or a decision between staying warm and having light. >> gentleman's time is expired. chair would recognize gentleman from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary perry, let me start by thanking you and acknowledging your words and your recent letter you sent to me regarding our nation's nuclear waste management program. i share your sentiment that the federal government's inability to dispose of nuclear waste by the legal deadlines impact communities. and the federal government has an obligation to reach a solution to this dilemma. we are advancing that very solution as you mentioned in your opening statement. the full committee, we're in a subcommittee here, but our full committee passed out the nuclear amendments with a vote of 49-4 and i thank my colleagues for working with me to move the bill. this legislation provides the tools to successfully complete
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the adjudication, the pending license, authorizes doe to pursue a temporary storage program while the disposal facility is completed. . allows the -- of the host state to mitigate potential impacts and perform the nuclear waste fund to protect payer whose have already paid over $40 billion to the federal treasury for this program. do you support resumption was licensing proceedings currently with the reestablishment of a nuclear waste program as required by the nuclear waste policy act? >> as i was sharing with mr. mcnerny, and president's budgets and what have you. there are parts of that budget i didn't agree with. hell, there were parts of my budget as governor that i didn't
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agree with. the point is i understand your role in this. and congress's very prpt role in the budgeting process and i respect it. i'm going to work within it. so the president's fy 18 budget requests the funding to restart the licensing proceedings. i think this is a really important point. that it's the licensing proceedings that this money is for. and i support that. the most important priority now is for congress to appropriate the funding so that we can reopen the nuclear waste program and finish the mountain licensing. at the end of it, those that are against this, they may find out through this process that they were right or that they're not. but until we get to the end of that process, we're not going to
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know that. the sooner we receive this funding, the sooner our scientists and the lawyers can get to work. >> and then following up on the -- obviously the authorization language that we passed through committee, you thac thanked us for that. we're on twofold track. those in the media, follow me, talk about the appropriate debate, and we're also in the author swrag authorization of how we move the program forward. are you encouraged by the language in the committee's bill and that that will help the department of energy move forward in the interim and in the long term again solution to this problem? >> 49-4 votes is a pretty clear message, sir. >> let me go on to, as you know, all americans are paying the cost of the department's inaction on disposing of spent nuclear fuel. since president obama illegal attempted to terminate the program, the overall taxpayer
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exposure skyrocketed from $12 billion to $30 billion. this is the judgment. this is kind of off books. this is money that we're spending that a lot of us don't talk about all the time. with another estimate due in the near future that will surely show another significant increase in incurred liability. every day american taxpayers pay millions of dollars to manage used fuel scattered around the country while not working to dispose of the material. what specific action do you propose to undertake to finally reduce these ballooning costs? >> well, one of the things that i think would be wise for us as a country and certainly congress as a partner in this process is find some alternatives. and whether it's at whip. whether it's at the site in west texas. whether it's something in nevada other than yucca. there are a number of places.
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maybe some sites that we haven't even talked about or we haven't thought about yet but i just think -- i don't want to get stuck, you know, yucca is the only place you can go and if yucca doesn't happen we're going to sit here with 38 states having high level nuclear waste in various places around in their states that are not secure, that have potential for a disaster to occur, whether it's manmade or a natural disaster, and so that would be one of my observations and suggestions is that we really look at as we go forward with this funding on the licensing of yucca, at the same time look at the alternatives that are out there. because mr. chairman, you know this as well as anybody. we're going to require all of that space to handle this high
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level waste that we have in this country. >> i would just say that's one of the benefits in the interim option in the legislation. it allows us to start consolidating and reducing the multiple hundreds of locations down to a handful. i yield back. >> gentleman time expired. recognize mr. peters. >> thank you. we met in san diego when you came to speak to our chamber of commerce a few years ago. i represent san diego which as you know as a large innovation economy. i want to express a little concern about some of the things i've seen out of the budget. maybe you've encouraged me by calling it a doorstop, but i'd still like to get your personal feelings, with respect to the advanced research project agency energy or arpa and have led to
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the formation of 56 new companies, spawned 56 with other agencies and attracted $1.8 billion in additional private sector ip vestmennvestm. why would we be talking about zeroing this out like the budget did? >> mr. peters, as i said in my remarks in front of the senate, i didn't write this budget. my job is to defend it. which from time to time is counter to what i think is good public policy. this happens to be one of those. as the governor of the state of texas, and president trump or then policemen trump knew that when he asked me to take this job. my history of working with the state of texas being involved with emerging technologies and having a very thoughtful process in place with experts that looked at these technologies and
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then recommending to the governor and lieutenant governor and the speaker in the case of ours. whether or not these were places that we wanted to invest to try to bring those technologies to commercialization. i still think that's a really good and thought fuful and an appropriate thing for government to do whether it's the state level or federal level. let me know by saying that this is a good conversation to have. do we have it structured properly? congressman barton is going to be working over at the department. i think we can find some solutions where we continue to push forward innovation where the government can identify new technologies, new innovation that can make a real difference in people's lives and help fund that. is it exactly like the structure of arpae?
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i'll engage in the conversation and the debate. but i think it's important for us to promote innovation. i'll give you a good example. darpa was created to make sure that america never gets surprised again in a conflict. and they've thrown a lot of gel althou -- jello at the wall over there. did they bat 1,000? no. but there's not a bank in america that can say every one of our loans was a good loan special we got our money back. >> i have to get to another question. >> be smart about it. have the right kind of oversight and i think that the president would be supportive of having the right kind of oversight and having the right focus. >> i think what you said is very sensible. i appreciate your comparison to darpa.
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that was the model. when the utilities came in here and i asked them specifically what's the federal role in securing -- in energy security in terms of grid efficiency and reliability, they said research. so i would just like to offer that as something to -- that can advocate for within the administration. >> you're absolute right. and that's happening at idaho national app. we've got that grid. we can go break things. >> we know the more nimble stuff sometimes happens outside. let me ask one other question about all of the above energy strategy. what role does energy conservation play as part of creating a supply? and is that something we should subsidize if we're subsidizing other energy sources? >> the answer is absolutely conservation plays a role. we've been able to make a difference. if you can put processes into place that save energy, that make it more efficient, then you
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certainly should do it. we can have the discussion, the debate about how you do that, what's the -- i mean, that's really the devil's in the details about how dyou do that but i do support the concept. it makes sense. how we do it -- one of the things that i learned as a governor is how do you incentivize people? we were able to clean up our air in texas so much partially by giving some tax credits to people for switching over from older dirty burning diesel typing ins to newer more efficient ones and that really helped on the fleet. so i think that rather than the how some people go that's not government's role, there may be some thoughtful ways working with state and federal governments to come up with
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incentives to change those. >> my time is up but some people say those tax credits are subsidies. >> recognize the gentleman from west virginia. >> thank you, mr. chairman. sorry. i was interrupted. mr. secretary, welcome. it's a delight that you're here and i'm particularly appreciative of you continuing this discussion, because we've had five or six hearings on this topic throughout this summer and so it's really important for you to put a punctuation mark on this. i don't see any daylight between you and me on this subject particularly as it relates to reliability. i am 100% behind what your position is on that to give us a reliable grid system. i'm coming from the area, it's
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gas. 42% of all the gas produced in america comes from this region that i represent, part of which the gas shells. so i'm very concerned about the reliability of this. so i want to build back. you've used and other people have talked a little bit about the polar vortex of 2014. i was here during a lot of that discussion, during that period of time. i think people need to remember what elements were like, because in 2014, after that they came here, ferc came and testified before us that we came within small power plant of having a blackout on the east coast. talking about 500 mega watts. a small power plant. since 2014 we've had 34 coal firepower plants close down since that period of time. now, we've tried to replace them with gas and wind and other
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things. that's to our credit. to the credit of the utility companies. but year own unless coming from staff and otherwise have said you're in po tthat polar vortex. 22% of the power generating capacity in the market was lost during that period of time. 55% of that was in gas fired power plants. so i'm concerned about if we think we're going to get reliability simply switching over to gas when we found out there's some issues with that. and that's why i'm very supportive. i want to see us spend more research dollars into finding ways to make gas more reliable and find ways we can have gas have that 90 day supply on site inside the fence to be able to do that. so i'm alarmed that people are ignoring what's already here that we have is we've got the
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nuclear, which is by far the most dependable supply we have. once you turn it on, you're good. and then follow with coal. so i'm concerned also with the fact that people don't seem to recognize that since the polar vortex that we've still continued to have forced outages at our gas powered plants that we have to do a good job of helping them find ways that we don't have the power outages. 94 percent of the out aages in 94% come from -- i think we can do a better job. in the time frame that i've left for you, if we had a polar vortex occur in the next couple months in this country, can you paint the picture of what we might be subjected to under the current circumstances? >> i'm not sure i want to paint
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that picture and unduly scare the people of this country. but i think we need to be responsible. i think we need to be really mature in the conversations that we have with the people of this country. i go back to i don't want any of you have to stand up in front of your constituents and try to explain to them why they did not have power during a -- whether it's 108 degree day in dallas texas or whether substantially below freezing day in new york city. and had any of us really know in our heart that if you have a diversified portfolio, you'll be able to serve better than if you have a limited -- i mean, we saw
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that back in texas in the early 2000s when gas went to $14 an mcf. >> mr. secretary, don't you think, then, if ferc were to follow through with your mission, don't you think we'd have a better outcome? >> well, i do. but that's why we're having this conversation here. and i do want to have, you know, i want to hear both sides of this and to have a very robust and open conversation. but i'm very comfortable that having this diverse portfolio of energy, of hydro, of cool, of nuclear, of wind, of solar, of bio, makes abundant good sense. now, do i think that we ought to subsidize all of this from the federal level? some grand scheme? no, i don't. i look at wind and solar kind of like i look at my kids.
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i tried this -- i supported them through their growing years, but once they got off out of college, they're kind of on their own. we did that with wind and solar. we subsidized those. they've become very, very good at what they do. and they have innovation has allowed them to become incredibly efficient. so the idea that we need to be subsidizing them going forward -- >> unfortunately, mr. secretary -- >> gentleman's time has expired. chair would recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. green. five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman and secretary, welcome. you and i have known each other since the '80s when you got elected to the state legislator as a democrat. >> i started to say back in my democrat days. >> in our younger years we played basketball together in
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austin. our subcommittee here has had a number of hearings over the last few months and seemed like every panel we have, they talk about how texas got it right. in our fuel blend that we're doing. and other states ought to look at that. you were governor when we created basically a free market system. with the wind power, natural gas, we only have two nuclear power plants in our state. but let me read you a quote from your nomination. our willingness to develop natural gas and tshale formatios has reduced its carbon foot fingerprint. texas took the national lead in wind and energy development. it's still one of the leading states when it comes to wind power. many of the policies you oversaw are responsible for that. let me -- my concern is, and i'm
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going to quote my colleague congressman, as well as the chairman of the subcommittee on environment economy, there are fundamental questions about what constitutes a base load power plant. something perry, and i'm quoting him, in his request laid out and having 90 days worth of fuel on site. during harvey our cool plants in texas had too switch to natural gas because the coal was under water. it was so wet when it did get out from under water, it couldn't be used. we can a conversation with power sources that didn't happen, but our natural gas plants continued. in fact, our nuclear plant continued to function. that's my concern. it seemed like with your new effort, you're gaming the system and not doing what we did when you were governor in texas on
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doing a free market program. let me go to the national coverage now. as governor of texas, our electricity follows with 48% natural gas, 28% coal, 11 from nuclear and 12% from wind sources. to compare that to oef averall sources the u.s. got 34% from natural gas -- 15% from renewables including wind, solar and hydro. that's why i question your notice of public review and an internal doe report from july. quote, the power system is more reliable today due to better planning, market discipline and better operating rules and standards. why do you find that there is now an immediate reliability crisis that needs to be addressed in extremely short 45 day comment period.
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one, because we've had so much test in our own subcommittee about reliable hasn't been an issue and why do we need to do this? >> mr. green, thank you. let me address your first question about the issue of coal and its being impacted by floodwaters in this case. we learned something new in every disaster. i'll give you one example. you remember when we did, and i think it was ike and we did a big contra flow on interstate 45 bringing the -- actually we contra flowed 45 and 10. >> i only about 50 seconds left and i have one more question. if you could speed it up or if i get extra time. >> you learn something new every time and i will suggest to you the coal folks learned something new this time in how they store coal is one of those.
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i don't consider that to be anything other than a bit of a diversion for them to look at. what was your last question? >> well, let me go to another one. it seems like we're socializing now by this effort that you're trying to do instead of do the free market system, the cheapest supplier could be nuclear because you said those plants were in 30 years and even extended. right now natural gas is cheapest, the cheapest we could get is wind. so we're using all we can of that. it seemed like you're putting your finger on the scale and not doing what we've done in texas for the last 15 years or soto try and let free market deal with it. like i said, i don't have enough time. but if the chair will let you answer that. >> i'll briefly give you the same answer i gave -- >> it's hard for those much us from texas to talk fast. >> yes, sir.
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i understand. the key is there is no such thing as a free market in the energy industry. do you agree that there's a free market? i don't. not even in texas. because we have a puc. we had the -- we have -- i mean, governments picking winners and losers every day by regulations and what have you. i think i'm at least honest enough to say that that's, not that you're not -- >> let me interrupt. i have the right to use from different plans from my electricity in my home. a person who deliver its can also use whatever power generator they have. so that's the free market that we have. >> the competition side of it, i'm all about that competition. that's what we did back through those years. we deregulated that market and the competition came. but the idea is that we've had -- we had an administration
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that had their thumb on the scale. i think you'll agree that he liked green energy. and that's where the subsidization came. i happen to think because there was in 2005 a guy that gave a pretty good speech with peak oil, that we found it all, there wasn't anymore. taking a snapshot in time, $14, $14 an mcf of gas. today it's substantially less than that. i don't know what it's going to be five years down the road. one of my responsibilities is look at the horizon, see what the future is. i go back to we have to make decisions to make sure that we have a diversified portfolio so that if the wind quits blowing, if the sun quits shining, if the gas transmission line is corrupted in some way that there's still people who are going to get power. >> gentleman's time is expired. chair would recognize the gentleman from -- it would be mr. harper. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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mr. secretary, thank you. welcome. it's always an honor to have you here. you've been a breath of fresh air as we look at the way you're doing the policy and setting those rules. looking ahead and having that foresight. we thank you for your efforts. this past february gao reported that doe is responsible for almost $370 billion worth of environmental liabilities. about $4.5 billion of the agencies defense environmental programs are spent on operational activities and about $1 billion to fund the capital asset construction projects needed to support operational activities. while there's a lot of focus on how doe spends on major capitol projects like hanford's waste treatment plant, we're not convinced that there's enough attention to ensure operational spending results in safe effective cleanup and thus reduce future taxpayer costs.
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can you talk about your plan's accelerating doe's environmental cleanup work? >> yes, sir. that was one of the reasons that i wanted to go out at chairman walden's request and the senators from washington and the government of washington state, governor and his environmental commission and see firsthand. i will tell you historically there have been some decisions made that weren't -- certainly not in the best interest of the taxpayers. not in the best interest of a timely cleanup. i think what we're seeing with becktell on the m and o out there and the -- it appears that they're moving forward in an appropriate way, both budget wise, both time wise to be able
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to get that plant up. you have enkracouraged them to n be ahead of that schedule, that that would be a very good thing. i'm confident that in some of these really big projects on the cleanup side, that we are -- we're making progress and as you rightfully stated, as we speed these process up, we save substantial amounts of dollars going forward. >> your environmental management office recently performed a 45 day review of operations. can you speak to whether that will produce more effective cleanup? >> well, yes, sir. it will. whether it's out at portsmouth which i was there about two weeks ago and we got chwhip bac
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online in new mexico. they're, again, taking shipme s shipments. we've got the chromium issue at oakridge. theirs is making progress. savannah river is making progress on their tank waste out there which is the largest environmental risk at that site. so i'm -- this is a monumental task as you talked about. the amount of money and the amount of time that we're talking about here is pretty stunning. >> look, i want to talk for just a minute in the time we have left. our national laboratories, you know, i know you visited a number of those during your tenure. the department's national laboratories, you know, developed as a really an out
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growth of the manhattan project. that's really i think the crown jewels of our nation's federal research framework. over the last decade congressionally chartered expert panels, gao reports, nongovernment organizations had noted doe's continued micromanagement of the labs saying perhaps they hampered innovation result in inefficient process. so mr. secretary, what is your perspective on how doe's laboratory system currently operating and what steps that you might initiate to enable the lan labs to execute ode energy and the inno vaenation mission? >> there's clearly a balancing act that goes on between management at the top of an agency of 16 plus thousand people and 100,000 contractors versus allowing laboratories
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complete and total freedom to go do whatever they want to do. hopefully my experience as a ceo of a fairly large entity, as a matter of fact one larger than doe for 14 years informed me about how you put good, thoughtful, capable men and women into positions of management and free them to go manage. and to make the right decisions. that's what you can expect out of me because that's what my history has been. so if we have a lab that's having some challenges and los alamos had some challenges over the last couple years and we're addressing those. by and large my approach is going to be hire really good people. >> our time's up. >> freedom to go do what the people of this country need. >> gentleman's time expired.
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mr. secretary, we have about another 45 minutes, hour's worth of questions. to quote you, if you'll shorten your answer, we can get on down the road. >> yes, sir. >> and you and i can go have texas barbecue, blue bell ice cream and pecan pie. >> i will quit filibustering. >> i will remind you of that. >> mr. secretary, welcome. i would note that many of your responses to the questions regarding the note were highlighted the polar vortex. pjm which is the rto in my area responded to that crisis with new rules to address those capacity issues. while i don't think the rules are necessarily perfect, but there's many different levers to pull here or smaller tweaks than what you're directing ferc to do in the 403. i would also like to point out that this committee has held
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eight hearings on markets and reliabilities. we've actually been having the conversation that you claim to be starting. green wire reported last week that you claimed that the 403 you sent to ferc wasn't a directive. you said you were hoping to have a conversation. you've said that many times today in this hearing. however, it includes phrases like the commission must act now, the secretary is directing the commission, and the secretary is requiring the commission. the document contains the word "must" 12 times. and i just want to point out that the comment period on this is extremely short and could fundamentally reshape or destroy many of the electricity markets very, very quickly. so it seems to me that your quotes in front of this committee today and the document that you sent ferc seems to be at odds. which is it, mr. secretary?
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is this a directive to ferc to do this or is it a conversation? >> both. >> so it's a directive then? >> i'm -- i mean, my words are what my words are. i don't back off from them. >> okay. well, what your word said in this and what you're saying today seem to be at odd. it can't be both chchlt o. which one is it? >> actually it is both. we can have a conversation and i think they must move. i think they must act. we've kicked this can down the road as long as we need to. >> do you think there are any alternatives? what you're proposing in this 403 is rather extreme. it's -- you talk about putting fingers on the scale. you're putting a heavy finger on the scale here in this 403. if you claim to be an all of the above energy person as i am, this senior going to result in major disruption in the
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electricity markets. so, you know, which comes first? this is a short comment period time. are we in conversation mode first? and then there's going to be a decision? or have you given a directive to ferc to do something without a conversation up front? >> i think you are -- you're wrong in one thing you said and that is -- >> i've probably been wrong in many things i've said. i'm sure you haven't. >> trust me, i've done it in front of four million people before. in a debate setting. that was when i could just remember them. the point is i hope nobody thinks that i take credit for starting this conversation. chairman olson -- excuse me -- >> okay. you're forgiven for that. let's just move. >> this has been discussed for a long time. i just think it's -- again, i don't want -- the -- i don't want the folks in pennsylvania
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in your district to be calling you up and saying congressman doyle, why when this -- >> our rto made those adjustments. we're pretty confident about our capacity in pennsylvania. you're good at filibustering. i want to ask some questions. secretary perry, your predecessor release ds a report finding that the short run markets may not provide adequate price signals to ensure long term investments in appropriately configured capacity. i do think that's an issue. also resource evaluations tend not to coordinate network or the -- or an investment decision making. so i think the increased importance of system resilience to overall grid reliability may require adjustments to market mechanisms to enable federal evaluations. i think coal and nuclear needs
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to than it has today. but i want to ask you, do you think there are any better alternatives, options, that should be examined instead of the noper? >> i don't have any idea whether there are any better options. that's one of the reasons we wanted to have this conversation, is to bring those up and discuss them. i'm not saying that my letter is the be all to end-all, but it has obviously been successful in getting the conversation going. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair now recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. latta. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and mr. secretary, thanks for being with us today. >> yes, sir. >> like you, i believe in promoting energy security, and that means energy policy of the united states. and i would like to take a moment to thank you for your recent actions to start those conversations about energy mix and energy markets. and i would like to now focus on
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a couple of items of legislation i've been working on. mr. secretary, in addition to the mandatory efficiency standards, there's also a voluntary program called energy star, that identifies those appliances that go above and beyond the federal efficiency standards by allowing them to carry the energy star label. this label allows consumers who want ultra efficient appliances to easily identify which models save most energy. however, in 2009, the obama administration shifted the lead role for this voluntary program from the doe to the epa. many have complained that the epa is the wrong agency to handle what is fundamental liang energy program. and mr. secretary, do you believe that the energy star program is one that should be led by the d.o.e., or the epa? >> well, from a scientific standpoint, i think the question answers itself on its face.
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is the -- the national labs that have the scientific ability to look at these programs and actually analyze them in a scientific way, reside over d.o.e. >> thank you. and given that d.o.e. has been setting the mandatory efficiency standards for appliances for 30 years, do you also believe that your agency, and not the epa, has that relevant expertise? going back and talking about with the standards you just said, i assume that would be -- >> yes. >> that would be yes. and would you also support legislation that would clearly make the d.o.e. the lead agency on the energy star program? >> you know, that's going to be your call, sir. but it makes abundant sense to me that would be a good slot for it to reside in. >> thank you. and mr. secretary, i appreciate your previous words of support for advanced nuclear technologies. as you may know, in january, the
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house passed -- my legislation advanced nuclear technology development act by a voice vote. and this legislation will help pave the way for american innovators, nuclear engineers and entrepreneurs to design, develop, license and ultimately deploy the next generation of nuclear reactor technologies. the department of energy's office of nuclear energy plays an important role in supporting these potentially breakthrough technologies, in addition to appropriately coordinating with the nrc to assure that those technologies will navigate the nrc's rigorous regulatory approval process. and, mr. secretary, what is your vision for d.o.e.'s advanced nuclear technology programs, and how do you plan to ensure there is appropriate alignment with the nrc on those advanced reactor licensing activities? >> we think small modular reactors, advanced reactors, are the real wave of the future.
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one of the reasons that we think it's important to support the nuclear industry today is because we have been losing that race, if you will. we don't want to get to the point in the globe where the only people that have the technology, that have the supply chain capability, are the russians, the chinese and/or the koreans. and that is a concern of mine, that we are headed that direction in this country today, because of the lack of support for the civil nuclear power industry. idaho national lab has a substantial project. hopefully we can see the funding go forward on those small modular reactors, and that, you know, ten years down the road people will look back and say, you know, we made the right decisions about focusing on
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advanced reactors and that the country is better served, and america takes its rightful place back as the lead on innovation and supply chain and the brain power and the nuclear side of the equation. >> thank you very much. and mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. >> i believe you're the first one to actually yield time. so we appreciate it. the gentle lady from florida, miss caster, is recognized for five minutes. >> welcome, mr. secretary. i want to ask you about puerto rico, because we have never in the u.s. virgin islands, because in the history of america, we have never seen an electric grid devastated to the extent that we have after hurricane maria. and as of right now, 84% of customers in puerto rico are without power in the u.s. virgin islands. the figure stands at 86% in st. thomas, 88% in st. croix, 100% in st. john. and even after hurricanes irma and harvey, we saw widespread
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outages in florida and texas and the gulf coast. yesterday we had a briefing from the department of homeland security, fema, the army core of engineers, and they said under the stafford act, all we can do right now is do some repairs. we cannot do what we need to do to build a modern, resilient grid in puerto rico and the virgin islands. there are a lot of bipartisan discussions here. it's not contained in this emergency supplemental to begin that or change what the stafford act says. so what -- we've got to protect the taxpayer. we cannot just rebuild what was there before. we've got to build according to national laboratory research, your group at d.o.e. so oftentimes, planning and conversations don't cost anything. or not much at all. could you go specifically into what conversations you've had
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already with the army corps of engineers, the bond holders? what is your plan to build a more distributed grid there with the modern technology that's at our fingertips? >> congresswoman castor, you have just pointed out the real challenge that this country faces in dealing with the territory and the citizens of puerto rico. that is a -- that's a country that already had its challenges before -- >> well, it's america. they're american citizens. so it's not a country. but could you just detail -- >> that's the reason i called it a territory, ma'am. i apologize for misstating and saying country. but the territory had a challenge in front of it already, because of the oversight. >> we know that. time is limited. can you just say specifically what conversations you've had, and what -- >> we've had many conversations about how to deal with this. the challenges are real. i can't tell you that there are
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any quick and fast solutions. rebuilding it back to where people have power right now is the number one goal. getting that power back on. >> has there been an inner agency meeting here at d.o.e. or in washington to discuss -- >> we have inner agency meetings all of the time, ma'am. >> specifically on -- >> yes, about this issue. >> okay. well, we -- the entire committee and everyone would benefit if you could report back with greater detail and specificity so that we can be as helpful as possible. and i have to say, it's so disheartening to see president trump state this morning that we cannot keep fema and military and personal responders in puerto rico forever. i hope this doesn't echo across the administration and the great folks of the department of energy. and the congress. i hope instead that vice president pence's statement would prevail, that we're going to be with our fellow citizens every step of the way.
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so on the grid resiliency pricing role, a consensus is forming very quickly that this is a very misguided effort. it's not based on science. i know you said before, you know, we maybe -- we don't know in our hearts. fortunately when it comes to electricity markets, we don't have to rely on what we feel. we have the very best scientists and analysts. in fact, right there in the department of energy in your own august grid study, they said that the grid right now is reliable, it's strong, it's actually more reliable than ever. we also rely on the north american electric reliability corporation, nerc. they have said even just recently that the u.s. power system reliability is strong. so there's really -- there just is no rational basis for this new ferc rule that you're trying
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to move through as quickly as possible. and i'm concerned, especially, that the whole discussion about how much this is going to cost consumers and businesses all across the country is being short-circuited. we had experts here last week that said we're looking at multibillion dollar cost increases on our neighbors back home. and so what is the department's plan to actually hear from these consumer groups that stand up for our neighbors? we hear a lot from special interests and lobbyists in washington. but how do you, in your role of representing everyone -- >> the gentle lady's time has expired. >> your voice to consumer concerns and these cost increases? >> the secretary can answer the question, but the gentle lady's time has expired. >> i can. miss castor, if the request -- if the letter -- if the noper to ferc is what you say it is, they won't go forward with it.
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>> the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois. >> thank you, mr. chair and mr. secretary. thank you for your service. i'm excited you're in the position you are. so thank you for all the good work you're doing. i think nuclear has been talked about a lot. i'm going to touch on it and then i have another question. you mentioned the decline of the domestic base in terms of being able -- international competition with nuclear. and i think that's an important point to reiterate, is the fact that, you know, we've always been really the world leader in nuclear. and that's helpful from a national security perspective, too, in terms of nuclear nonproliferation, writing the rules of the road. and that's a base that we are losing. and i think i was heartened to hear your mention of that and the fact that that is essential, not just to the economy, and not just to grid reliability and not just to electricity, but to national security. it's a very important thing.
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i also support -- i also want to thank you for being supportive of the smart reforms at the nrc. mr. doyle and i have the nuc act, which i think has a lot of support and i really appreciate that. it's a very vital part of our economy. illinois gets a significant power of its energy from nuclear, and the country gets a very significant amount of that, too. but since that's been hammered a lot, i do want to ask you, in the energy independence and security act of 2007, the bureau of energy resources was created at the state department. it's effectively giving the state its own energy office. there's no requirement for state to consult or collaborate with the d.o.e., and even though d.o.e. has far more technological expertise on energy matters. and especially nuclear matters. can you describe how d.o.e. and state work together on energy policy and specifically can you provide areas that may be improved? >> i can't. >> okay.
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because? >> i'm not aware that they even had an energy effort over there. but if they did, you would think they would have contacted us. and if they have, i'm not aware of it. >> makes sense, wouldn't it? can you talk then about maybe your role when it comes to things like lng exports and blunting the russian energy weapon in eastern europe and, you know, pushing back against the blackmail that the russians can use against our allies? >> i'll try to be brief here. you've done a good job of basically laying out the facts. the united states is blessed after the shell revolution of being able to produce. we are a net exporter of lng as of this year. and i believe in two years we will be the net exporter of all u.s. energy. and that's -- that is an incredible blessing. >> miraculous. >> to be able to use that for america's best interest from
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a -- a weapons standpoint, if you will. when you think about the -- that russia uses energy as a weapon. then america needs to have the largest arsenal. and so our ability to deliver lng to -- whether it's a country like ukraine, along with coal, to poland, to the european union, this is a powerful, diplomatic tool of which we need to use wisely, to support our allies, and to send the message to those that would use energy as a weapon that we will not be -- you know, we will not be allowed to be -- push back with that. and we are going to support our allies. >> well, i thank you for that. and i think it's a very important point, is -- i actually think the energy revolution in this country borders miraculous. and ten years ago, we thought that we would always be reliant
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on middle east energy, and we find basically today that we have way more than we ever thought and we can access it for a good price and be a swing producer in the world. and blunting energy weapons not just from russia, but all over. with that, i want to thank you, mr. secretary, for your service, for being here, spending your time. and i'll proudly yield back 50 seconds to the chairman. >> and we've got a good tradition starting here. now we're going to go to mr. sarbanes of maryland for five minutes. >> i'm going break the tradition. so recently established. thank you, mr. secretary, for being here. the u.s. intelligence community, as you know, i think, has drawn a definitive conclusion that russian hackers were interfering with our elections last year. and i know the president and a fair number of people within the administration are resisting that conclusion still. but i want to talk to you about the potential exposure with respect to our grid and our
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energy security that's posed by hackers, by russian attacks, cyberattacks. do you agree that the grid is at risk from cyberattacks by russian hackers, or other hackers, for that matter? >> yes. >> and i'll note that back in 2015, the congress approved the fixing america's surface transportation act, the f.a.s.t. act. that was a bipartisan bill. there were provisions included that chairman upton put in there that expanded d.o.e.'s authority to counter cyber security threats. and those provisions actually designate your department as the lead agency for energy sector cyber security. so i would like to maybe you could speak for just a minute or so about what actions you're taking as the lead agency with respect to these cyber threats to our energy security and our
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grid, to give us some confidence that this is getting the attention that it deserves. >> so over the past year, the department has worked with the entire energy sector, with the national labs, with the federal agencies that are involved with this, with the industry specific to develop a comprehensive strategy and a plan for the energy sector cyber security. the strategy for the energy sector is to leverage strong partnerships with the private sector. we've got three labs that specifically their role is -- called cyber core. their role is to focus on these cyber security issues, working with the private sector, to strengthen today's cyber systems and risk management capabilities. and i might add, to develop innovative solutions for tomorrow. >> i appreciate that. i would also appreciate -- maybe
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we can get this arranged here. i know that the chairman agreed to brief members on this committee efforts to address the report of symantec, for example that describes these potential cyberattacks happening or ones that are happening right now. would you also agree to pull together a briefing of the members of the subcommittee on the reports we've heard of, of these russian-linked hackers targeting the electric grid? is that something you would be willing to do? >> yes, sir. >> appreciate it. and we'll try to make that happen. i want to switch gears real quick. i've got two minutes left. i want to go back to the travel situation. not to beat a dead horse, but because actually i see an opportunity here. given your willingness to address this up front. i've been chairing this democracy reform task force. we're actually releasing a report today, which details what i see as kind of a culture of en
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titlement among many of the cabinet members in terms of using these private jets at public expense. to kind of jet around the country in ways that i think are offensive to the average person out there. you've spoken to the critique that your agency has received and that you have received with respect to that. and i appreciate that. and i have to say, in the context of the report, that the conduct that you've been criticized for is not as egregious as most of the rest. that may be damning you with faint praise, i don't know. or perhaps in the land of the ethically blind, the one i manage, is king, or something like that. but i did want to speak to the fact that i think in the last couple of days, the acting head of the office of government ethics sent a memo around to agency heads. did you receive this memo which talks about the role of agency leaders in promoting an ethical
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culture? is that something you're familiar with? >> i don't know. we'll look and see, sir. >> well, i commend it to you. it says, among other things, as a leader in the united states government, the choices you make and the work you do will have profound effects upon our nation and its citizens, and the citizens deserve to have confidence and integrity of their government. i'm greek-american. i always invoke my greek heritage through an ancient greek philosopher, looking for the honest man. you could be the honest man here. you could start a cultural revolution within the administration that says we're going to pay attention to ethics. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> i thank you for your testimony. >> the gentleman's time has expired. the chair now recognizes mr. griffith of virginia for five minutes. >> thank you very much. it's never a bad thing to be compared, perhaps, with diogenes. so i think that was a veiled compliment, and i look forward to you striving to meet that challenge.
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i have to tell you, i think you're doing a good job explaining things this morning, and i agree with most everything you've said. particularly i have to say i agree with your proposed rule related to making sure that we have those facilities available that have fuel on site. coal and nuclear. those facilities are resilient, in cases of emergencies like we had with the polar vortex a few years ago. it's almost like we have forgotten that natural gas, while it never completely shut down, the price went from 3 to $4 -- 100 cubic feet or 1,000 cubic feet to over $100. and many places had to shut down jobs and et cetera because they couldn't afford to pay that price. because supply didn't keep up with demand. and i think it's important that we remember that. and i think what you're doing to make sure that things are there are very important. as you said to congressman doyle, pretty confident, just won't get it. if something happens, it's going to be, you know, folks looking to you to say why didn't you do something. and i appreciate you trying to do something in advance of a problem.
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so i appreciate that. earlier this week, the epa administrator announced the agency's proposed repeal of the clean power plan. the rule represented in an unprecedented intrusion into the state's control over their energy policy, threatened to raise rates, impact grid reliability, as well as harm energy intensive and trade exposed energies. under this rule, the epa was basically establishing the nation's de facto energy policy. yes or no, wouldn't you agree with me that that's your job at the department of energy? to establish the nation's energy policy? >> yes. >> thank you. >> well, let me -- just a second. >> all right. >> yes, working with congress. >> well, and i appreciate that. as secretary, will you commit to challenging other federal agencies if their rules and regulations raise energy prices, limit energy production, or otherwise impact the department of energy's purgatives in
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national energy policy, yes or no? >> yes. >> thank you. in addition to the clean power plan, the past administration's epa-issued standards for new power plants that effectively mandated carbon capture sequestration coal generation, even though as the committee's oversight showed, the technology was not yet truly viable for commercial power generation. yet the previous epa barrelled forward with an unworkable rule. i think d.o.e. has the appropriate expertise to collaborate with the epa on technology decisions affecting the energy sector. would you agree with me on that? yes or no. >> yes. >> and what role -- and i'm going let you answer however you want to. what role do you see for the d.o.e. to ensure future epa rule-makings affect appropriate assessment of the true commercial viability of technology? >> there's a good working relationship between the cabinet members and their agencies.
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and i think you bring a good point that we don't work in silos. and then we should be looking for partners in different places so that, number one, we're not duplicating something that's going on in another agency. but there's also some synergy that can come from that. and i can give you one example and excuse me for diverting here. but the department of energy is standing up in office of veterans health. and we're working with the v.a., with the health and human services and with dod through darpa. and mr. mcnerney, congressman mcnerney, who has been a strong advocate for the v.a. and for the veterans in particular -- not necessarily the v.a., but for the veterans. and that's a great example of how we can talk to each other, coordinate with each other, and come up with a better product for the people of this country. whether it's on innovation, whether it's on energy policy or for that matter, just how we take care of our veterans. >> well, and i think that was one of the problems that -- one of the frustrations i had with
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prior administration, is oftentimes i would agree with the department of energy, even in the prior administration. but the actions of the environmental protection agency prevented us from getting places. so when they pushed on one technology, like carbon capture and sequestration, which i'm not against, but let's make sure it's viable, they basically tabled a lot of other things, like one of my favorites, chemical looping. i know d.o.e. was putting money into it, which i encourage you to continue to do but at the same time, epa wasn't looking in that direction and created a situation where we had two different agencies going in different directions. so i would encourage you to work with your colleagues and let's all row in the same direction and we can get more done for the people of the united states of america. thank you so much for being here today. and with that, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes distinguished gentleman from vermont, mr. welch. >> thank you, very much. thank you, mr. secretary. one of the areas of bipartisan effort has been on performance contracting.
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and i know you've made some remarks, energy-saving performance contracts, that that is a promising area, because it doesn't burden on regulations. it's not regulatory-dependent and very much a partnership at the private sector. you're going to be developing -- or the administration as an executive order that will be released in the coming weeks. and i just want to really make sure that you'll do everything you can to make certain that the performance contracting is embedded in it. that's something that colleagues on this committee have worked on. mr. mulvaney, when he was here worked on it. just a quick comment and reassurance on that. . >> yes, sir. you can expect both myself, and i think other members of the cabinet, along certainly with mik -- >> will you set some goals, targets? we had significant ambitious target in the obama administration. >> yes, sir. >> and we need a target to
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reach. >> i don't know whether there will be, you know, numerical targets or not. but certainly the concept and -- we'll push forward -- >> i would like to follow up with your administration on that. >> yes, sir. >> and i think a lot of us would like to work together with you on it. >> yes, sir. >> the second thing, mr. latta was asking you about energy star. and, again, many of us have bipartisan support for that and there's this question about whether there should be some changes. and your department has some responsibility. epa has some responsibility. what are the responsibilities in the epa that would not be done if, in fact, everything was turned over to d.o.e.? >> well, i'm not sure that there would be anything that would be lacking. i mean -- >> delay of jurisdiction over some things. you have jurisdiction over others. >> what i thought you were saying is, if they are -- all consolidated at the department of energy, what would get discarded.
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and i'm not sure anything would necessarily discard it, other than a lot of bureaucracy. >> well, but -- i get it on the bureaucracy and less is better. i'm with you on that. but there's functions that have to be performed that now are done by the epa with respect to maintaining the energy star program. so my question is, how would your agency meet those risk requirements? >> any requirement that requires a scientific -- scientific look, where you're taking in -- that's going to be a d.o.e. that's obviously -- >> here's what i'll ask. bipartisan support and energy star, we want to make it strong. if there's going to be a discussion about having it all be done in one place versus two, we've got to make certain that the integrity of the program is maintained. and i would like to work with you on that. okay? >> mr. welch, here's how i'll finally address this.
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you make the rules, and we'll follow the instructions of congress. >> all right. thank you. >> would the gentleman yield? >> sure. >> we are going to do a d.o.e. reauthorization bill, and we are going to try to make it bipartisan. and if that happens, your suggestions will be seriously considered. from this side. >> i appreciate that. thank you very much. and another issue here is your proposed rule that was going to focus on coal and nuclear. i get that. but it's expensive, according to studies. about $800 million to $3.2 billion a year. and this is in exactly your area of concern, but it's the concern of many of us on the committee, including mr. mckinley and mr. griffin. the coal miners have been hammered. and they lost their health care. and we took steps in congress to
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address that. but they've lost their pension. and if we're talking now about spending $800 million to $3.2 billion a year for the coal companies, but we don't address the pensions that these miners have earned going into those mines, day in and day out -- many of them for 30 years. the pensions are like 540 bucks a year. where is the justice in that? >> mr. welch, one of the things i can share with you is that if for whatever reason the companies that are still being able to hang on by their -- by their literal fingernails go under, then the pensions that those companies have, the health care that those companies are putting forward today, will just exacerbate this problem even
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more. but that's not the main reason we're talking about what we're doing with the 403. the main reason we're talking about the 403 is for the resiliency and the reliability of the grid. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you. >> the chair now recognizes the gentleman from ohio, mr. johnson. >> mr. secretary, thank you for being here today. you know, we call you several titles. mr. secretary, governor, a lot of folks don't realize that long before that, you were another title. you were an airman. and as an air force veteran, i want to thank you for your service. and i look forward to working with you to advance your concern for our nation's heroes and our veterans. that's important. you know, as you know, mr. secretary, eastern and southeastern ohio is blessed with a wealth of resources, energy resources from the abundance of coal, oil and gas
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and critical nuclear technologies. and it truly has every major resource to supply our state and our nation with the energy that we need. so we are well-positioned to advance the idea of energy dominance and making the appalachian corridor all that i know you and the president, the administration want it to be. so i look forward to working closely and following closely ferc's work relating to the power markets. these are complex issues surrounding the power markets, and ferc has been looking at these power price issues for some time now. especially with an eye toward grid stability. and i think encouraging the commission's continued work in that regard and on those issues is very helpful.
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i also want to thank you for your recent visit to piketon, ohio. as you know, piketon is home to a highly skilled work force. you've talked about work force in your comments today. that work force being capable of operating critical domestic uranium enrichment technology. and the cleanup efforts under way, there at the former portsmouth gaseous diffusion plant is equally important to repurpose that property, to make it another job-creator for southern ohio. so i look forward to working with you on those issues, specifically ensuring that america has the domestic enrichment capability to meet our national security needs, along with keeping the cleanup operation on track. now, mr. secretary, i'd like to discuss energy exports. as president trump has made that a clear priority with his energy dominance agenda, encouraging
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exports, whether that's coal, natural gas or nuclear technology is crucial to ensuring these energy industries remain a vital component of our domestic economy. along with strengthening our geopolitical ties. and i don't have to remind you that d.o.e. plays a critical role in the vitality of america's civil nuclear industry's engagement in international commerce through what is known as the part 810 process. energy and commerce. this committee has long recognized the economic and national security value of a strong american presence in these foreign markets. the previous administration initiated some targeted process reforms, which i understand are still being implemented. so do you, mr. secretary, acknowledge the critical importance of maintaining our american presence in international civilian nuclear
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markets, and will you provide your commitment to implementing further efficiencies in the part 810 approval process? . >> yes, sir. >> okay. great. additionally, under your leadership, d.o.e. and -- we talked a little bit about this. you partially answered this question already. under your leadership, d.o.e. has approved multiple lng export applications. in your view, what should congress do to ensure the u.s. cultivates and maintains a leadership role in lng exports. and are there any barriers to lng exports that should be addressed and we focus on? >> obviously, the ability for the united states to be a leader in exporting lng, the jobs, the economic impact that it has. certainly in your area of the state, where you're sitting on top of, i suppose you're part of the state still has part of the
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marcellus underneath that. and so, you know, coming from a state that has been blessed with an extraordinary amount of gas, other areas -- and there may be places where we don't even know yet that we have identified. i go back to ten years ago, there was a guy making a pretty good living giving the peak oil speech. that we had found it all and that we didn't -- well, maybe. maybe not. but the point is, being able to send that gas around the world, as i said earlier. i won't repeat all of that. but it's incredibly important from a domestic economic standpoint and from a global national security standpoint. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. secretary. and thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> we now want to recognize the gentleman from new york for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, secretary perry, for joining us at the subcommittee. earlier you were asked about the arpae program. i just want to understand your answer clearly. do you oppose the elimination of
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the program? >> i'm sorry. which program? >> arpa e. >> no, sir. i hope i made pretty clear in my remarks that i think the arpa e program has its place. does it need to be restructured and chairman barton and i are in a conversation about that at this particular point in time. but, you know, is it called arpa e, something else -- >> do you disagree that it should not -- >> here's what i agree with. i agree that innovation is the real lifeblood of this country. and government does have a role in making sure that technology gets to the commercialization standpoint and government plays a role in that. >> okay. it's a beneficial program to districts like mine, and i would hope that we would grow it. not reduce it or eliminate it. it's clear that many members have been, both substantive and process concerns with your recent notice of proposed rule making. it was reported that you said the obama administration had its thumb on the scale of energy
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markets to the detriment of base load industries. can you provide examples of what you mean by that? >> yes, sir. what i mean was there was clear -- and listen, administrations get elected, and, you know, elections have consequences. and for eight years, president obama was the president of the united states, and he had a clear philosophical -- >> examples, examples. so we can get through that. >> yes, sir. whether it was putting money into clean energy programs, whether it's putting money into batteries. sometimes -- >> clean energy programs? >> sometimes they were, sometimes they weren't. i'm going suggest to you solyndra wasn't a good idea. so it's about using good, thoughtful processes. it's a reason i created when i was back in the state of texas. >> examples again. the examples. >> i just gave you one. >> but others. >> whether -- the clean energy across the board. and -- >> are you talking about renewables? >> i'm talking about clean energy. we can -- i'll tell you what
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i'll do -- i'll get you a list of all of those programs, and do that. >> okay. did it include renewables? >> if you consider battery technology a renewable, yes, i guess it would. >> but renewable power itself. itcs, ptcs? >> i'm not sure what you -- what you mean by -- >> well, the investment tax credits are productive tax credits. are you upset with that? is that a thumb on the scale? >> i'm not upset with them. i just think it's a conversation we need to have so that -- >> is it an example of what you mean about the thumb on the scale? >> i'm talking about when you are sending clear messages through whether it's the epa or whether it's through the d.o.e. that these are the programs, these are the places that we want the administration to expend dollars. i'll be more than happy to try to get you a list of all --
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>> so were itcs and ptcs part of that then? >> have they been used as a way to influence the market? yes. >> well, weren't they passed by congress? >> that doesn't mean everything that congress does i agree with. >> okay. well, you're crediting the -- or pointing to finger to the obama administration. but i would suggest that they were reauthorized by this congress -- a congress in 2015, when your party was in control. so -- but if you can get us a list of those. >> that would probably be a better way to do this. >> all right. do you agree with the -- with the d.o.e. assessment that distribution systems are responsible for over 90% of total electric power interruptions? >> ask the question -- >> rather than lack of
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generation. do you agree with that report? >> that 90% of -- >> of interruptions were caused by distribution systems, rather than lack of generation. >> i don't know the details of the report about all of the ways it was studied. i think the idea to be making a black or white, yes or no decision on that question is a little bit -- >> let me ask this, then. what factors did you consider when deciding that it would be more cost effective to support specific types of generation to enhance reliability, rather than shooting right at improving infrastructure? >> i think the cost effective argument on this is secondary to whether or not the lights are going to come on. and i think it's really important for -- >> did you measure cost to the consumer when you did these? because -- >> that will be the last question. the gentleman's time has expired. >> can you answer the question? >> i think you take cost into
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account. but when it comes to -- you know, what's the cost of freedom? what does it cost to build a system to keep america free? i'm not sure. say okay, whoever can build the cheapest delivery system here to keep america free, that's the same argument i make on the -- >> but my businesses and manufacturers are upset about the cost to them from your proposal. >> well, i'm concerned about -- a citizen that's calling you up and saying, why did you not address this issue when we had the opportunity to in 2017. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> the lights in my house is not on. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i yield back. >> all right. we go to the gentleman from college station, texas, mr. bill flores. five minutes. >> mr. secretary, it's great to see you. >> texas a&m. >> that's right. i'm thrilled that president trump picked fighting texas agi
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to serve in your position. honor to have you here today. >> thank you, sir. >> i'll give you an example you can use to respond to questions like the one you just had when you were badgered a few minutes ago. australia had a large blackout. it started out as a weather-induced incident. what they found out was they had an imbalance in their grid. they didn't have sufficient base load capacity to back up their wind capacity, and as a result, several million people were without power for quite a long period of time. so that's something that you can use to talk about what you're trying to prevent with your order to ferc that i think would be helpful. i'd like to move on to nafta for a minute. as you know, nafta has created a robust energy trading market between the u.s. and mexico and canada. and in particular, following mexico's liberalization and privatization of their energy business, we've had a huge increase in energy flows across the border, particularly between texas and northern mexico. and this has resulted in a trade
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surplus to the united states. or for the benefit of the united states. i am concerned that u.s. trade representative is making proposals with regard to nafta that would short-circuit those gains that we have had in terms of our ability to export energy in mexico. and so i was going to ask -- my question is this. are you consulting with the administration, particularly with the u.s. trade representative, about making sure that we get nafta 2.0 done correctly so that we have a robust energy market with mexico and canada? >> we are, mr. flores. and i've been in direct contact with pedro joaquin caldwell, my counterpart in mexico, as well as jim car, my counterpart in canada. and we're going to have a trilateral meeting in houston. the 13th through the 15th of november, to discuss this and other issues, particularly a north american energy strategy. we think it's really important that this -- actually, western
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hemispheric, but in particular the north america region is -- as -- has attached at the hip as we can be in supporting each other and developing an energy strategy that will take care of us. >> particularly am pleased to hear you're going to stay engaged in that process. i think it's important for the united states as a whole in texas in particular. i really like the approach of energy dominance that you and the administration have adopted. and it has huge geopolitical implications as the united states becomes energy-secure. a great example is lithuania. i mean, they have a ship there called "the independence." imagine that name, "independence." and they use it to liquify lng that's imported from around the world, but particularly from the united states. that has changed lithuania from being dependent on russian gas to being a net energy supplier to its baltic neighbors. i think that has huge
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implications geopolitically. so i appreciate your efforts with the administration to come up with this idea of energy dominance. but moving on, how has this benefited our global competitiveness and allowed us to position ourselves as a global energy super power? >> well, the short answer is, in the next 24 months, u.s. will be a net energy exporter in totality. that's both crude and -- which the chairman barton carriedhat piece of legislation to -- and i'm sure you supported it. but allow us to be the -- economically -- that's powerful. and obviously the geopolitical side of that when it comes to supporting our allies and giving them some options to other sources of energy. it's going to speak volumes about america's role in global issues going forward. >> okay. i have a couple of other questions for the record in the
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interest of time. but i do have one final question. recently the house passed hr-2910, which is one of my pieces of legislation, called promoting interagency coordination for the review of national gas by plants act, which improves ferc's role in the permitting process. do you agree that it would help to have one agency acting as a lead agency for the purposes of coordinating the various environmental reviews for pipeline construction? >> i'm having put on my previous hat as a former governor of texas. it would make abundant good sense to always keep the people's needs and safety and environmental issues paramount. but to find more efficient, effective, streamlined ways to permit projects is going to help this economy. there was nothing that we did in the state of texas that sent a more powerful message for
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economic development than having a stable permitting and regulatory climate. >> that's great. thank you for being here today. it's great to have you as our lead witness. i yield back the balance of my time. >> the gentleman's time is expired and we now recognize the gentleman from iowa, mr. loebsack, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chair. great to have you here today, mr. secretary. i'm glad you're here. i learned a lot being on the end of the dais here, i get to listen to questions and hear the answers. >> me too. >> thank you for your service and commitment to veterans. i've got a couple of marine children, one who will be deployed any minute now to kuwait. so thank you very much. i appreciate it. i like what you said at the outset too that our national security depends upon our energy security. there's no question about that. whether we're talking about oil imports or whatever the case may be. so i do appreciate that. that comment. and you've talked about diversity, including wind, solar, a variety -- kind of all of the above approach.
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i'm from iowa. and while -- in the aggregate, texas does have more wind energy output than iowa does. percentage-wise, as you mentioned, texas. about 112 mez. iowa is 34%. moving up all of the time. in your confirmation hearing you said, and i quote, if confirmed i will promote energy in all forms, and that includes renewables, unquote. but then just last week, epa administrator pruitt attacked these provisions by saying he would like to see them eliminated. and i quote, what he said, secretary pruitt, again. i would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar. you know that the production tax credit for when the investment tax credit for solar have really driven billions of dollars into rural america, in particular. and i represent 24 counties in southeast iowa. i visited a new wind farm that mid america is putting up just recently. and it's helped consumers, of
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course, save money, created all these new jobs. just a very simple question, yes or no. do you agree with mr. pruitt, that we've got to end these programs, these incentives that we're giving to wind and solar? >> i can't give you a yes or no. i can give you -- refer you back to what i said about my children earlier in the -- there's a place for these subsidies as we build innovation and we commercialize it. there's some point that you say, you're on your own, you can stand or fall on the market. and i will suggest to you that both the solar and the wind energy is approaching that very mature stage. you can't on one hand say, you know, we are this clear deliverer of a base load of energy, oh, but we need to be -- continue to be treated like we were when we were not that mature. so finding the balance there and
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finding the right time to say, you know, you're mature enough, out the door -- >> well, i will say that rural america is hurting big-time. and these investment tax credits for solar and production tax credits for wind has been -- those have been very, very wonderful for rural america, for our farmers. and for clean renewable energy. and also for making sure that we are secure. the energy sector. and that is national defense, as far as i'm concerned. i really was hoping that you could give me a yes or no, whether you agree with secretary pruitt or not. i would like to mention renewable fuel standard, too, if i could. again, i think it's about 25% of our oil that we actually import. and i think half of that comes from an area where my stepson is being deployed as we speak. and it was very disappointing, i think, for a number of us in states that really do produce a lot of ethanol, biodiesel, especially, when it comes to ethanol. it was very, very disheartening
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for us to see that the volumes were reduced when it comes to ethanol with respect to the epa's proposal for next year. and this is bipartisan concern. you know, we've had our senators from iowa speak out about this. they're republican. i'm the only democrat in the state of iowa. we're united on this. and so i guess i'm going to ask you. i mean, do you believe there is a real commitment from this administration to the renewable fuel standard, or are our fears to be confirmed that this administration is backing off on that commitment? >> i would refer to you to the remarks that the president has made about iowa and iowa corn growers and ethanol. he's made it abundantly clear to me -- i can't speak about any of the other cabinet members. but he's made it abundantly clear to me that he is supportive of it. >> i can just say this. look, the president has said a lot of things on a lot of different issues. and they're not always consistent from day to day, minute to minute or month-to-month. so that's i think a big part of
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why we have a lot of concerns in iowa about the commitment of the administration to the renewable fuel standard. >> yes, sir. i'll leave that argument to some other folks. i just know what he he said to me. >> do you have that commitment yourself? >> i think exporting american energy is where our focus needs to be. >> but i do believe, no offense, but i do believe we have to make sure that we're not so dependent upon energy being brought in from the outside. >> the gentleman's time has expired. >> thank you, mr. secretary. >> i want to announce, we've got about three more members, and we've got lunch in my office, which is like 30 seconds, if you and your staff have the chance to come down and eat. as soon as we get through. i know you're all on a tight schedule. but i think it's texas barbecue, so it might be worth coming by. the gentleman from north dakota, mr. cramer, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm from the very north tip of texas. i'm the only member -- it's hard sometimes to be among all these texans who stick so closely together.
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but i'm proud to be part of the same cult, i suppose you could say. i cannot tell you how much i appreciate you being here, and how refreshing you are to listen to, mr. secretary. it's very impressive. and i love the fact that you have taken center stage on all things energy. realizing there are lots of other agencies that have energy nexus clearly. but are providing real leadership. and i appreciate that. and i especially appreciate your references earlier to the importance of the intellectual value chain of all things nuclear. i don't think that can be overstated. so thank you for that. and for the fact that we have acquiesced as a country much of our leadership on nuclear, including the enrichment of uranium. so thank you for that. i want to focus a little bit back on -- and to say thank you for your leadership on the -- for searching for a way to properly compensate the inherently more reliable, most reliable sources of base load electricity. i never cease to be amazed by
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how little regard there is for having lights on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year around here. and sometimes i worry, mr. secretary, that it will require a crisis for some people to remember how important coal and nuclear are. thank you for focusing on that. it's entirely appropriate for ferc to take a look at this and give it appropriate value. in fact, i find it rather offensive that some people suggest you're putting the thumb on the scale when the reality is, you're just rebalancing the scale. >> good point. >> i mean, how -- where have people been for the last several decades who suggest that somehow we're manipulating markets? the whole idea of rto is to manipulate markets. that's why we have rtos. it's not a free market. from the subsidies through the tax code, through d.o.e. grants and loan programs, all the way to public utility commissions and states who have mandates based on portfolio standards. those are all manipulations of markets. your responsibility is right. make sure the lights stay on.
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so i appreciate that focus. with that in mind, i'm going to ask a couple of questions. and i don't need you to answer them today. but i'm hoping you can get back to me on it. in the proposed grid resiliency pricing rule, resource that is are subject to cost of service or state regulation, state and local regulation, are excluded. and i would like to get an explanation as to why. and i'm wondering if what you meant was only those sources that don't participate in a ferc-regulated wholesale market. because in north dakota, where i was once an energy regulator, we have these -- all of our utilities are virtually -- they're either -- obviously either under regulation or under regulation by their ownership in the case of the rural electric cooperatives. but they're all subject to great regulation of some sort. and i want them to be afforded the same economic benefits as a merchant generator, for example. so that's one area i'd like to explore a little bit with you later. i also wonder about the 90-day
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fuel supply. and i say that, because in north dakota, all of our generators are -- all literally coexist with the coal mine itself. so while they may have a 30-day pile next to the plant, the plant is next to the coal mine, and there's an 800-year supply. i'm wondering if there's not some adjustment that could be made to understand that. with my remaining minute and a half, though, i want to get to -- i need to address something that's been said a couple of times by my friends on the other side of the aisle. they have referenced nerc as though they don't support what you're doing. and i pulled up some comments from the nerc folks, specifically the ceo, regarding the concerns that were raised with your order. i'm just going to quote a couple things. higher reliance on natural gas exposes electric generation to fuel supply and delivery vulnerabilities, particularly during extreme weather
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conditions. this is from nerc now. maintaining fuel diversity and security provides best assurance for resilience. quote, premature retirements of fuel base load generating stations reduces resilience to fuel supply disruption. this is not simply your heart speaking, this is your experience speaking, and this is nerc's ceo speaking. here's another direct quote from him. coal-fired and nuclear generation had the added benefits of high availability rates, low forced outages and secured onsite fuel. many months of onsite fuel allow units to operate in a manner independent of supply chain disruptions. you are entirely appropriate and right to challenge ferc with this. lest we let emotions dictate our policy. so with that, as my time runs out, thank you for your service, and i look forward to following up on the rest of this. >> the gentleman's time has expired. last but not least, the gentleman from michigan, mr. wahlberg, for five minutes.
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>> thank you, mr. chairman. i assume the invitation for lunch in your office goes for us, too, that have stayed to the end. >> excuse me? >> i was just asking, mr. -- i was asking, mr. chairman -- i was hoping that your invitation to lunch was included for us, as well. >> well, sure. >> especially since we stayed all the way to the end. >> we may have to do the loaves and the fishes. but all the members that are here, including my good friend, bobby rush, are welcome to come to my office. and we'll make -- >> mr. chairman, you're taking my time right now, but -- >> reset the clock. >> thank you. >> mr. secretary, thank you for being here, and those of us who sit this far to the end of the dais oftentimes, it's difficult to sit to this far to the end of the dais and listen to what's been going on. but you've been very refreshing today but the fact of your candor and willingness to not let issues like climate change, like the issues of regulatory concerns get in the way of a
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full understanding that we still have to have to do what we have to do for our people. and we can debate all these issues and they certainly have worthiness of debate. he have with to provide the power to keep the lights on and keep grandma and me warm in my house, so thank you for that. also appreciate your humidity, even admitting mistakes. i sat next to you the morning after those mistakes at a breakfast of supporters of you, and appreciate the fact that you're here right now. thank you for your work. i represent a district in michigan that has all of the above in energy, production and use. we make things that go into renewable power and ship those around the country. we have the largest coal fired plant in north america sitting on lake erie in my district. we have firmi 1, 2 and the
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license for firmi 3. the license is there, the utility is not really thinking about using it at this point in time because of economics and politics. and so i'd like your comments on that. i appreciate your position that you've laid out so far on nuclear energy and how it relates to our entire life here in the united states and security. but what about that? i mean, should we hold these plans in awayance, are we going to have the opportunity for nuclear power to be used and to be competitive or do we just have a license and assume that it's uncertain? >> well, i think -- thank you, sir. it's important to talk about nuclear energy as part of our portfolio. it doesn't play a more important role than fossil fuel or wind or the others. i think having a healthy --
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having those sectors all be hathy is really important. i don't think anyone would argue right now that nuclear energy is healthy. it's not -- and it's not because of the regulatory burden that's been put in place, the political burden that's been put in place and i think for our future security both energy security and our national security to have that industry be healthy is very important, that means having a supply line of both the products that go into those, the hardware if you will and the intellectual capital that comes from the young men and women that are going to university pipeline at this particular point in time to be nuclear engineers, et cetera. what's next i think is one of the most important questions? just like looking over the
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horizon and seeing the future of maybe not too clearly because it's -- it's opaque in a lot of ways when it comes to try to decide or know what's going to happen from a weather phenomenon when we talk about why it's important for us to have that solid and resilient grid put the same is true on the nuclear side. look over the horizon see what's new. that's what your national labs are involved with and partnering with the private sector so that we -- whether it's small modular reactors. when you think about the challenges, mr. rush, that we have in puerto rico today. it would seem to me that if we had a small -- a cadry of small modular reactors that we could airlift down there and plug in and to make a difference maybe that's the kind of planning we need to be talking about as a country so, you know -- and it's not just in an island environment like the citizens of
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puerto rico find themselves but in a host of different ways, whether it's, you know, events around the world where america can participate, but having this nuclear energy industry healthy again and i haven't even mentioned the part about our role in keeping america safe from the standpoint of having a nuclear weapons arsenal that is safe and modern and that's going to only occur if we have the bright young minds that are coming up through the nuclear programs to populate those positions. >> thank you, mr. secretary. and keep speaking the truth in a realistic fashion as you do about energy and its need. thank you. >> the gentleman's time expire. before we excuse you, mr. secretary. one last question, quick answer, how many senate confirmed people do you have in deally right now? >> not enough.
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>> your staff's holding up three fingers. >> not enough. >> do you know how many -- >> not that you've ever had to wait on the senate before, if anything that you all can do -- >> you got three and probably ten or 12 are waiting could be confirmed, is that fair? >> at least. i don't know what the numbers are. >> the chair recognizes the gentleman from illinois for one brief question. >> mr. secretary, our efforts to increase diversity and engineer secretary. what is the future of that office under your administration? the office of economic impact and diversity? >> mr. rush, it's there and the will of this committee and the will of congress is going to be
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where -- i'm going to take my instructions from you and from the members of this committee and from the senate. it is there, i would suggest to you. it is functioning properly and it will continue to get the attention and the respect that it should. >> it will be a part of our reauthorization discussions. mr. secretary, we thank you. the chair wants to announce that all mebsz have ten days to submit written wquestions for te record. this hearing is adjourned.
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