Members Press Secretary Chu on President's Energy Policy

March 8, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing to examine the Department of Energy's Fiscal Year 2013 budget. Energy Secretary Steven Chu attempted to defend the president's energy policies despite rising gasoline and electricity prices and a maligned loan guarantee program.

Contrary to his past suggestion that, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe," Chu told members today that he and the president "want gasoline prices to go down." Secretary Chu argued that President Obama supports an "all-of the-above" energy strategy, yet, as highlighted in today's questioning, the administration has taken an active role in picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace.

"There is no question that the nation currently faces serious energy challenges, but I have concerns about the areas in which the Department of Energy is focusing its priorities. It seems to me that conventional energy sources have, at best, taken a backseat to other types of energy sources like wind and solar," said Whitfield.

Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), accused DOE of abandoning its core mission and principles, which according to the law, include a responsibility "to foster the continued good health of the nation's small business firms, public utility districts, municipal utilities, private corporations, and private cooperatives involved in energy production." McKinley argued the administration's actions have led to coal plant closures, job losses, and challenged the reliability and affordability of American energy. Watch McKinley's remarks here.

In an exchange with Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Secretary Chu reluctantly admitted increased oil supplies would help drive down the price of gasoline, yet he failed to endorse House Republicans' plan to increase domestic production. Gardner suggested that instead of employing short-term gimmicks to manipulate the market like using the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the administration should focus on long-term supply solutions to help bring down gas prices. Watch that exchange here.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) called on Secretary Chu to reverse the president's policies that have reduced American energy production and supplies. He questioned the secretary about his visit to Saudi Arabia to ask the Saudis to produce more oil. Instead of begging the Saudis for more oil, Scalise suggested the secretary should be focused on removing barriers to North American energy supplies. Watch here.

"The President has recently begun to brag that he supports an "˜all of the above' energy policy, but these actions look more like a policy of "˜nothing from below.' Oil production opportunities blocked. Layers of new federal regulations contemplated for natural gas development. Costly rules designed to squeeze out coal. And the sad saga of Yucca Mountain, halting development of a long-term repository and raising questions about our long-term nuclear prospects," said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). "The President's proposed Fiscal Year 2013 Budget for the Department of Energy is not an "˜all of the above' policy. Rather, it seeks to transform the U.S. energy portfolio based on unproven and more expensive alternatives."

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