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Senate panel unanimously advances Biden pick for deputy Energy chief

Senate panel unanimously advances Biden pick for deputy Energy chief
© Greg Nash

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 20-0 Thursday to advance the nomination of David Turk to become deputy Energy secretary.

Both Chairman Joe ManchinJoe ManchinGame of votes — why budget reconciliation isn't the answer Democrats need Why President Biden is all-in in infrastructure Senators in the dark on parliamentarian's decision MORE (D-W.Va.) and ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Biden outreach on infrastructure met with Republican skepticism Sunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave MORE (R-Wyo.) praised Turk’s experience on energy policy.

“I was highly impressed by Mr. Turk at our hearing last week. He clearly has a firm grasp on the wide range of issues facing the Department of Energy,” Manchin said in his opening statement.

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Turk, who served on the National Security Council and in the State Department during the Obama administration, became deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency after Obama left office.

The Senate panel has frequently been at odds in the past over President BidenJoe BidenGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal Obama, Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley team up to urge communities of color to get coronavirus vaccine Biden to hold second meeting with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure MORE’s nominees and policies on energy and the environment, with committee Republicans frequently arguing Biden's policies will hurt jobs and economic growth.

Barrasso, who has been one such critic, spoke positively of Turk on Thursday for expressing dedication “to all types of energy and the need to keep America energy dominant.”

“I especially appreciate his commitment to carbon capture utilization and sequestration technology as well as the need to construct CO2 pipelines to move that captured carbon,” Barrasso said.

“If confirmed Mr. Turk must prioritize policies that take advantage of the tremendous economic and national security benefits generated by an abundant oil, natural gas and coal resources that we have,” the ranking Republican added, alleging that the Biden administration has “declared war on energy.”

Another of the committee’s Republicans, Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate GOP to face off over earmarks next week Trump faces test of power with early endorsements OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies MORE (Mont.), said he had found his interactions with Turk “refreshing [and] pragmatic.”

During his own opening statement, however, Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDemocrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico Intelligence leaders warn of threats from China, domestic terrorism Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-N.M.) warned that merely a diverse energy portfolio would not necessarily have prevented the mass power losses in Texas during its recent winter storm. He noted that natural gas production fell 45 percent during the winter weather, because “there’s a lot of water in natural gas and when you don’t winterize things it literally freezes up ... and natural gas just could not in Texas fill the gap.”