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 ManchinWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season MORE (D-W.Va.) and ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoWhite House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden administration to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices 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 BidenSouth Africa health minister calls travel bans over new COVID variant 'unjustified' Biden attends tree lighting ceremony after day out in Nantucket Senior US diplomat visiting Southeast Asia to 'reaffirm' relations 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 DainesBill honoring 13 service members killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden's desk The Memo: Much-criticized Trump policy puts Biden in a vise The good, bad, and ugly of Tester's Blackfoot-Clearwater Stewardship Act MORE (Mont.), said he had found his interactions with Turk “refreshing [and] pragmatic.”

During his own opening statement, however, Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThis Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Degrees not debt will grow the economy Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall 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.”