February 02, 2023

Manchin, Committee Examine the Department of Energy's Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIF). U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, discussed the substantial funding and new responsibilities provided to the DOE in the IIJA, and built upon with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), to strengthen America’s energy security, increase domestic energy production and reduce our reliance on foreign supply chains. 

“Congress has spoken clearly over the last two years, between the Energy Act, the BIF, and the IRA, that the United States has an all-of-the-above energy policy that supports using all of our God-given resources in the cleanest way possible. That’s how we shore up our energy security and achieve energy independence while also addressing climate change. It is my intention to make sure that these laws are implemented swiftly, effectively, and in line with that clear Congressional intent, which I can assure you this Administration doesn’t seem to want to do, but we’re going to make sure they do it,” said Chairman Manchin.

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin questioned Deputy Secretary of Energy David M. Turk about Chinese influence in America’s electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain: 

“I am concerned with the geopolitical risk that this Administration is not concerned with right now by trying to push more EVs out before we are able to supply the batteries without dependence on China. That’s the biggest concern I have, and the recent ruling from Treasury, that still allows $7,500 credits and just completely violates the IRA by delaying the necessary guidance that they were supposed to have in place by December 31. They’ve avoided that, and cherry picked it. We’re pushing EVs to the point that we are going to continue to rely on China for supply of these batteries,” said Chairman Manchin. 

“We are providing technical help and expertise to our Treasury colleagues in conversation to help move that process along, but of course that’s not a process that we control. What we do have are the tools that you've given us through the bipartisan infrastructure legislation to move out as quickly as we possibly can at asserting U.S. leadership and doing it as strategically  and as urgently as we possibly can so we're not in the hole that we are currently.  We’ve got to dig ourselves out of that hole as quickly as we possibly can,” replied Deputy Secretary Turk.

Chairman Manchin asked about delays in permitting Class VI wells for carbon capture. The IIJA funded nearly $12 billion in projects to deploy carbon capture at commercial scale. Those projects cannot move forward without carbon storage wells that require a Class VI permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

“This Administration continues to wage war on coal. They can say what they want to, but I’m from coal country so I know what’s happening. The wells that we’re talking about require a Class VI permit from EPA. We had $12 billion to deploy carbon capture at a commercial scale, the infrastructure bill provides the EPA $75 million for Class VI well permitting including providing grants to states that take over the responsibility for permitting these wells. However, only two active Class VI wells have ever been permitted and at least 30 applications are pending at the EPA.  What's that going to do to meet the timetables that we have?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“What we’re trying to do at DOE is work with EPA, I've had several conversations with my counterpart, Deputy Secretary McCabe, and we're engaged right now with them on technical problems. We understand the urgency, we're trying to work with our interagency colleagues and doing everything we can from our end,” said Deputy Secretary Turk.

The IIJA also provided over $300 million for DOE’s carbon utilization program that includes projects to commercialize innovative uses for coal. Recent DOE projects have shown that coal and coal waste can be used to produce graphite for batteries, metal composites, building materials, rare earth elements, and other products vital to America’s construction, defense and energy industries.

“DOE recently terminated some promising projects to commercialize new uses for coal. It seems like they have a hard time accepting coal has more value since they want to eliminate it. DOE has said there is lack of funding for these projects despite the hundreds of millions of dollars that Congress has made available. Will you all continue to support commercialization of innovative uses for coal, including both from newly-mined coal or from coal waste? Will you ensure that funding from the Infrastructure Bill and the CHIPS Act will be used?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“Senator, we've been working as a department on this including our NETL [National Energy Technology Laboratory] colleagues that you know very well. We've got the Minerals Sustainability division in our Fossil Energy and Carbon Management office focused on this. What I’m told is we've got four smaller pilot projects out there and there's plans to try to build from that, so happy to talk further with you and your staff to make sure we're going forward,” replied Deputy Secretary Turk.

Chairman Manchin requested an update on the development of regional hydrogen hubs. The IIJA provided $8 billion to support the development of clean hydrogen hubs and requires that two hubs are located in regions of the United States with the greatest natural gas resources, such as Appalachia.

“When do you expect to make some of your announcements on the hydrogen hubs?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“April 7th is when the full applications are in and then we're going to make selections no later than Q4, but as you know from our secretary, she's going to try to move that timeline up but do it right,” said Deputy Secretary Turk.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.
To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.
To watch the hearing in full, please click here.