April 16, 2024

Manchin, Committee Question Secretary Granholm on Administration’s FY 2025 DOE Budget Request

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV) held a hearing to question U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm about the President’s budget request for the DOE for Fiscal Year 2025. During the hearing, Chairman Manchin discussed the historic American energy investments resulting from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, his concerns with Administration actions that deviate from those laws, the national labs’ work on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).

“As Chairman of this Committee and Senator for one of America’s energy powerhouses, it has been incredible to witness how transformative the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act have been so far. We are more energy independent today than we ever have been, and we’re producing more energy cleaner than ever,” said Chairman Manchin during his opening remarks. “These bills created a lot of opportunity, which is why I am so frustrated about the numerous ways the Administration is trying to reinvent them to fit their political agenda and picking winners and losers.” 

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin discussed the implementation of the IRA’s 45V Hydrogen Production Tax Credit. Chairman Manchin announced last year that West Virginia would be home to a new Hydrogen Hub to help kickstart a domestic hydrogen industry.

“The immediate response to the Administration’s proposed guidance on the 45V tax credit is clear: if implemented, it would jeopardize the viability of the industry before it even has a chance to get off the ground… The industry response includes a letter from all seven of DOE’s hydrogen hubs, who wrote in February of this year that their projects will ‘no longer be economically’ viable unless Treasury’s guidance is ‘significantly revised.’ Do you think we should heed the warning of DOE’s own seven hubs and do you have any insight into what might be changed?” asked Chairman Manchin. 

“We want these hubs to succeed and we, meaning the Administration, the Treasury Department, put out specific questions that they were inviting responses for as they finalized the rule. We’ve gotten over 30,000 responses and they are working through those responses,” replied Secretary Granholm.

Chairman Manchin asked Secretary Granholm about the national labs’ work on AI.

“America must accelerate our efforts to compete and defend against our adversaries like China on AI, and the Department of Energy has the central role in that mission. The Department and its national labs have the computing resources, we have those in our national labs. We’re not going to get further ahead if we go back and try to reinvent the wheel again. [With your jurisdiction] over our National Labs, I think you might have some thoughts about this,” said Chairman Manchin. 

“Our national labs are in the driver’s seat – we have the tools. We have the largest exascale computers in the world, we are obviously using AI in all of the labs," said Secretary Granholm. 

“We’re very much concerned about the amount of money we’re going to have that’s going to be divided up when those resources could get better results if we stay with what we already have,” said Chairman Manchin.

Chairman Manchin also questioned Secretary Granholm about the SPR. From 2021 through 2023, 290 million barrels were sold from the SPR, bringing the SPR to its lowest level in 40 years. A majority of those sales were the Administration’s 180-million-barrel emergency release in 2022. Congress also ordered over 80 million barrels sold since 2021.

“While I’m glad to see DOE has begun refilling the reserve, I’m told there is only enough funding to bring us back to around 400 million [barrels]. Do you think 400 million [barrels] is a large enough reserve? Has DOE done an analysis about the right size for the reserve? If it’s not enough, what do we need to do to fix that?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“We are buying back, and we want to buy back at a rate that is good for the taxpayers,” said Secretary Granholm.

“You’re not buying right now, the $85-$90 [per barrel] range?” asked Chairman Manchin.

“In the past few months, we had because it was below $80 [per barrel] but in the latest round it came in above, so we cancelled that one. But we still have a strategy of continuing to do this at a value for the taxpayers noting that we sold for $95 per barrel and we want to buy back at a rate that saves them,” replied Secretary Granholm.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.