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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 ManchinManchin touts rating as 'most bipartisan senator' Bowser on Manchin's DC statehood stance: He's 'not right' It's Joe Manchin vs the progressives on infrastructure MORE (D-W.Va.) and ranking member John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoRepublican seeks to use Obama energy policies to criticize Biden  EPA proposes major rule to reduce certain greenhouse gases Republicans hammer Biden on infrastructure while administration defends plan 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 BidenAtlanta mayor won't run for reelection South Carolina governor to end pandemic unemployment benefits in June Airplane pollution set to soar with post-pandemic travel boom 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 DainesHillicon Valley: DOJ to review cyber challenges | Gaetz, House Republicans want to end funding for postal service surveillance | TikTok gets new CEO Senators introduce bipartisan bill to protect personal travel data Wyden-Paul bill would close loophole allowing feds to collect private data MORE (Mont.), said he had found his interactions with Turk “refreshing [and] pragmatic.”

During his own opening statement, however, Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Democrats battle over best path for Puerto Rico 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.”