On November 14, 2019, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“Committee”) held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dan Brouillette as Secretary of Energy. Mr. Brouillette is currently DOE’s Deputy Secretary, and has been nominated by President Trump to replace outgoing Secretary Rick Perry.
Mr. Brouillette’s opening remarks to the Committee focused on DOE’s research and development programs and efforts to commercialize technological breakthroughs by establishing a Chief Commercialization Officer. In response to questioning from Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mr. Brouillette emphasized that his “vision” as DOE secretary would be to focus on making new energy technologies commercially viable and available on a large scale. Mr. Brouillette’s opening remarks also focused on DOE’s role in expanding the country’s liquefied natural gas export capacity and DOE’s programs to bolster grid resiliency and security. Mr. Brouillette discussed the development of the North American Energy Resilience Model, a program aimed at providing real-time analysis to anticipate damage to energy system equipment, predict associated blackouts, and assist with recovery. Mr. Brouillette also highlighted DOE’s focus on developing technologies to support carbon emissions reductions, through both renewable and nuclear generation.
Committee members expressed support for Mr. Brouillette’s nomination, as well as for DOE’s ongoing research and development efforts. Several committee members, including Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked Mr. Brouillette to confirm his commitment to fighting for sufficient funding to enable DOE to continue to support robust research and development programs. In response to further questioning from Chairman Murkowski, Mr. Brouillette also confirmed that he would continue DOE’s focus on the Artic as a strategically important region for energy development and security, as well as a resource for extracting oil and gas, and increasingly, minerals for battery storage technologies.
Addressing a question from Senator John Barasso (R-WY) on DOE’s efforts to bolster grid security and resiliency, especially in rural communities, Mr. Brouillette indicated that he would continue to support the agency’s efforts to develop tools to help utilities report cyber security incidents and anticipate and prepare for future incidents. Highlighting DOE’s Cybersecurity Risk Information Sharing Program, Mr. Brouillette emphasized DOE’s efforts to develop the tool and to make it affordable and accessible to municipal utilities and cooperatives in rural areas. When questioned by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) with respect to DOE’s role in developing transmission, Mr. Brouillette indicated that he would support legislative efforts to incentivize transmission development in order to increase system resiliency and to support increased development of renewable generation.
Mr. Brouillette also denied any personal knowledge of, or involvement in, current Secretary Perry’s alleged dealings with the Ukrainian government at the direction of the Trump Administration.
The full hearing webcast is available here.