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Summary of Hearings on Federal Agencies

(10/21/13)

  • October 16, 2013: House Natural Resources Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing on "As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service's Implementation of the Government Shutdown"
  • July 18, 2013: House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Markup of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013
  • July 17, 2013: House Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing on "The Department of the Interior Operations, Management, and Rulemakings"
  • June 19, 2013: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space Hearing on the NASA Authorization Act of 2013
  • June 13, 2013: House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2014 U.S. Department of Energy Budget
  • June 6, 2013: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Review Programs and Activities of the Department of the Interior
  • April 9, 2013: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Ernest Moniz to be the Secretary of Energy
  • March 7, 2013: Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Sally Jewell to be the Secretary of the Interior
  • February 27, 2013: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and the Census Hearing on the Road Less Traveled: Reducing Federal Travel & Conference Spending

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House Natural Resources Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearing on "As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service's Implementation of the Government Shutdown"
October 16, 2013

Witnesses (with links to opening statements):
The Honorable Jonathan B. Jarvis
Director of National Park Service
The Honorable Greg Bryan
Mayor of Town of Tusayan
Ms. Anna Eberly
Managing Director, Claude Moore Colonial Farm. McLean, Virginia
Mr. Myron Ebell
Director, Center for Energy and Environment, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Ms. Lisa Simon
President, National Tour Association, Lexington, Kentucky
Mr. Denis P. Galvin
Board Member, National Parks Conservation Association

Committee Members Present (with links to opening statements):

Darrell Issa (R-CA) Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman
Doc Hastings (R-WA) Natural Resources Committee Chairman
Elijah Cummings (D-MD) Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member
Peter DeFazio (D-OR) Natural Resources Ranking Member
Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Eleanor Norton (D-DC)
Rush Holt (D-NJ)
Gerald Connolly (D-VA)
Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
Nicola Tsongas (D-MA)
Trey Gowdy (R-SC)
Louis Gohmert, Jr. (R-TX)
Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)
John Mica (R-FL)
John Duncan (R-TN)
Danny Davis (D-IL)

Douglas Lamborn (R-CO)
Tim Walberg (R-MI)
Steven Horsford (D-NV)
Robert Wittman (R-Virginia)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Paul Gosar (R-AZ)
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH)
Tom McClintock (R-CA)
Patrick Meehan (R-PA)
Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
Dan Benishek (R-MI)
Michelle Grisham (D-NM)
Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
John Tierney (D-MA)
Jason Smith (R-MO)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Grace Napolitano (D-CA)
Joe Garcia (D-FL)
Kristi Noem (R-SD)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesday, October 16, the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a joint oversight hearing entitled As Difficult As Possible: The National Park Service’s (NPS) Implementation of the Government Shutdown. The hearing examined the actions taken by the NPS following the government shutdown, which began on October 1 due to a lapse in fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations.

Witnesses impacted by the closure of parks were called to testify, as well as the Director of the NPS, Jonathan Jarvis, who appeared before the committees only after a subpoena was issued by Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Before testifying, witnesses were sworn in by Issa.

In accordance with the shutdown, all government agencies were required to halt activity and furlough all workers unnecessary for the protection of life and property. Therefore, beginning on October 1, approximately 87% of Park Service employees were furloughed and 401 National Parks were closed, barricading entrances to the public at popular tourist attractions including the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, and even the lawns of the National Mall.

The hearing, called by the Republican-controlled committee, called into question the necessity for turning away millions of visitors at National Parks, especially a group of WWII veterans who were refused access to the World War II Memorial on October 1. Republicans believed that the unnecessary closures were part of a larger ploy to make the shutdown as conspicuous as possible to the American people.

Though repeatedly questioned by House Republicans, Director Jarvis upheld that the National Parks were closed in compliance with the Antideficiency Act, a law that forbids federal use of any funds that have not been authorized by Congress. Without appropriations, Jarvis maintained that the NPS could not afford to pay Park Rangers to prevent vandalism and the deterioration of the historic sites, and that they therefore had to be barricaded. Republican committee members, however, felt the National Parks were unnecessarily barricaded, especially public lands that are not regularly patrolled, are leased to private entities, or are open-air monuments without pay gates.

Democrats criticized Republicans for blaming the NPS for the closures when Congress was responsible for the shutdown in the first place. Democrats instead focused on the Park Service's budget and lack of funding. In his testimony, Denis Galvin of the National Parks Conservation Association explained that the National Park Service’s budget represents only one-fifteenth of one percent of the federal budget. Furthermore, NPS funding has been in steady decline because of budget shortfalls. Ranking Member, Peter DeFazio (D-OR) stated that in 2010 the budget for NPS was $2.75 billion; in 2013, however, the budget is only $2.4 billion, which is less than 2008 spending levels. Jarvis explained that maintenance backlog of the parks exceeds $11 billion to repair water systems, waste systems, and roads. Jarvis emphasized that that National Parks contribute $76 million each day to the national economy, and that the closures caused by the government shutdown were adversely impacting communities.
Governors in at least five states have reopened national parks such as the Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty in recent days, but Republicans consider that these actions were too late. As of Wednesday evening, October 16, both the Senate and House have approved a bill to temporarily fund the government through January 15 and extend the country’s capacity to borrow through February 7. The bill also authorizes retroactive pay for federal employees and reimburses states for the costs they incurred to keep National Parks open during shutdown.

Opening statements, witness testimonies and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Committee’s web site.

-SKF

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Markup of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013
July 18, 2013

Opening Statements:
Lamar Smith (R-TX), Full Committee Chair
Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Space Subcommittee Chair
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Full Committee Ranking Member
Donna Edwards (D-MD), Space Subcommittee Ranking Member

On July 18, 2013, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a markup of the NASA Authorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 2687). The full committee markup followed a July 10 markup by the Space Subcommittee. The bill, which reauthorizes programs at NASA for two years with a top line budget of $16.9 billion, was approved by a vote of 22 to 17 along party lines. The committee considered 36 amendments, of which 11 were accepted.

The bill sets clear human spaceflight goals for NASA, which include sending humans into lunar orbit, to the surface of moon, and to Mars. It provides no funding for the Asteroid Retrieval Mission requested in the President’s FY 2014 budget, and it reduces NASA’s Earth Science budget to 2008 levels. It prohibits NASA from implementing the President’s requested restructuring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, which would have eliminated most of NASA’s involvement in education and outreach. The bill will provide additional funding for the International Space Station (ISS), Space Launch System (SLS), and commercial crew above the $16.9 billion authorization level if Congress repeals or replaces the Budget Control Act (S. 365).

Ranking Member Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced an amendment, which amounted to a substitute bill (H.R. 2616) that was defeated along party lines. The substitute bill would have reauthorized NASA for three years, beginning with a funding level of $18.1 billion in FY 2014 and increasing to a funding level of $18.9 billion by FY 2016, $2 billion above the majority bill. It would have established the goal of a human mission to Mars while giving NASA the leeway to develop its own intermediary goals. It would also have increased funding levels for Earth Science, Planetary Science, and other NASA programs above those in the original bill. Funding levels similar to those in Edwards’s substitute amendment were recently approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

A manager’s amendment was passed, which, among other things, requires continuation of the NASA Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, requires the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to complete a report on near-Earth objects, and requires justification of the President’s proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission.

An amendment introduced by Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) struck a provision in the bill that would have set a new six-year term for the NASA administrator. The goal of the provision was to give NASA more stability of purpose, but Johnson argued that it is important for the administrator to have the strong presidential support that comes with being an appointee. Johnson’s amendment was accepted by a vote of 20 to 19.

Some of the amendments accepted by unanimous consent dealt with international partnerships and education. An amendment introduced by Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) directs the President to invite international partners to participate in a U.S.-led initiative to send humans to Mars. An amendment introduced by Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) encourages NASA to continue informal science education in partnership with museums, science centers, and planetariums. A second amendment introduced by Kennedy requires an independent review of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program and would incorporate K-12 education, community colleges, and two-year institutions into the program.

Amendments that would have increased funding for science and outreach to minority groups were not accepted but prompted an interest in further dialogue. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL) amendment would have increased funding for science if the sequester was repealed, and Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) amendment would have ensured that NASA’s education and outreach included groups that have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields. Chairman Smith expressed an interest in working with both representatives to accomplish their goals in the final legislation.

Other amendments that were not accepted dealt with program funding, human spaceflight, and education. Rejected amendments would have increased funding levels for earth science, education, heliophysics, space technology, the SLS, cross-agency support, the inspector general, and environmental compliance and restoration. An amendment introduced by Johnson would have provided the NASA administrator with greater flexibility to shift program funding. Amendments introduced by Edwards and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) would have required the National Academy of Sciences to review how the bill’s cuts in earth science funding would affect climate research and weather forecasting, respectively.

Edwards also introduced amendments that would have struck the bill’s provision making “exploration deeper into the solar system” NASA’s main focus and the provision requiring a sustained presence on the moon. She argued for maintaining NASA’s current multi-mission focus and for letting NASA determine the best milestones on the path to Mars. Kennedy introduced an amendment that would have struck language in the bill eliminating NASA’s ability to consolidate its STEM education programs. Although representatives on both sides of the aisle expressed skepticism about the Administration’s STEM education plan, Kennedy and Edwards argued that NASA needs the flexibility to pursue its own reorganization of its education and outreach efforts if it sees fit. None of these amendments were accepted.

Opening statements and a list of amendments considered, as well as a video archive of the entire 5-hour markup, are available from the committee website.

-BLH

House Committee on Natural Resources Oversight Hearing on "The Department of the Interior Operations, Management, and Rulemakings"
July 17, 2013

Witnesses (with links to opening statements):
Sally Jewell
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

Committee Members Present (with links to opening statements):
Doc Hastings (R-WA), Chair
Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR)
Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
Rob Bishop (R-UT)
Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA)
Doug Lamborn (R-CO)
Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rob Wittman (R-VA)
Jim Costa (D-CA)
John Fleming (R-LA)
Niki Tsongas (D-MA)
Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY)
Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)
Dan Benishek (R-MI)
Jeff Duncan (R-SC)
Matt Cartwright (D-PA)
Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Alan Lowenthal (D-CA)
Scott Tipton (R-CO)
Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Steve Southerland (R-FL)
Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP)
Bill Flores (R-TX)
Joe Garcia (D-FL)
Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
Chris Stewart (R-UT)
Jason Smith (R-MO)
Mark Amodei (R-NV)
Don Young (R-AK)

On July 17, 2013, the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on “The Department of the Interior Operations, Management, and Rulemakings.” Representatives questioned Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell, who was sworn in on April 12 of this year, about topics including offshore energy, mining on federal lands, hydraulic fracturing regulations, water resource management, wildfires, and climate change.

Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) began by discussing his concerns over the direction the Department of the Interior has taken under the Obama Administration. He criticized the DOI’s “restrictive” energy policies with respect to offshore drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and coal. He also complained of a “lack of transparency” in DOI operations. 

Peter DeFazio (D-OR) expressed interest in hearing about the DOI’s plans for alternative energy development and climate change adaptation. He also hoped to learn about the policy outlook for resource extraction, including hard rock mining, oil and natural gas leasing, and hydraulic fracturing.

In her opening statement, Jewell highlighted the DOI’s role in onshore, offshore, and renewable energy development; management of lands for recreation and wildlife; and responsibilities with respect to wildfires and water resources. She also emphasized the damaging impacts of sequestration on departmental operations, including wildfire response and remediation.

Many questions for Jewell revolved around energy issues. Representatives took strong opposing stances on offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling. Rob Wittman (R-VA) and Jeff Duncan (R-SC) expressed support for offshore drilling in the Atlantic and emphasized the importance of the DOI completing its 2017-2022 five-year plan for the Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program on schedule. Duncan additionally requested that Jewell work with the Senate to fast-track the Transboundary Hydrocarbons Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, and Jewell responded that she would work to communicate the agreement’s importance. In contrast, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) expressed opposition to drilling in the Atlantic and expressed concern about the effects of initial geological and geophysical assessments on fish and marine mammals. DeFazio added that opening up new areas to offshore drilling is unnecessary when much of the currently available land has not been developed.

Representatives Wittman and Bill Flores (R-TX) raised questions about the impacts of the president’s National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan on offshore energy. The Plan includes a coastal and marine spatial planning component, which Flores worried could impact the use of the ocean by multiple stakeholders, including the energy industry. Jewell promised to look into the details and provide a response.

Jewell was also peppered with questions about the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) regulations on hydraulic fracturing. Representatives Doug Lamborn (R-CO), John Fleming (R-LA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) questioned whether federal hydraulic fracturing regulations were necessary. Lamborn argued that state-level regulations could respond to the unique hydrology and geology of each state. Fleming added that he knew of no cases of human harm or groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing and stated that federal regulations would unnecessarily delay permitting. Jewell responded that certain minimum regulations should be applied across all hydraulic fracturing projects, and added that some states have not yet developed their own hydraulic fracturing regulations and are looking to the federal government for guidance.

Matt Cartwright (D-PA) described hydraulic fracturing accidents that have caused human harm and argued for hydraulic fracturing regulations based on accurate information. Cartwright and Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) raised concerns about the industry-funded FracFocus website, which under BLM regulations would be the primary means of public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluid composition. Both cited a Harvard University study released in April detailing the problems with the website as a source of public information. Jewell responded that the website is a cost-effective option and that the DOI is open to considering other methods if the website does not work as intended.

Representatives Lamborn and Mullin criticized the President’s “war on coal.” Lamborn was especially critical of the Administration’s rewrite of the Stream Buffer Zone Rule, which requires coal companies to keep mining operations away from streams, and he decried the DOI’s slow pace in providing the Committee with documents about the Rule’s rewrite.

Other questions centered on resource extraction from federal lands. Dan Benishek (R-MI) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) criticized the slow pace of permitting for mineral and fossil energy extraction. DeFazio opined that the federal government should assess royalties for hardrock mining, so that some of the funds could be used to clean up abandoned mine lands.

Gohmert complained that the lack of timber harvest from federal lands was harming local economies that would benefit from the proceeds. Bishop and Lamborn added that timber harvesting and other means of fuels reduction are needed to reduce wildfire hazards. Lamborn criticized the Administration for cutting the budget for hazardous fuels reduction, and Lamborn and Amodei added that managing currently owned federal lands should take budgetary priority over acquiring new lands. Jewell responded that she was working to raise awareness of wildfire hazards with the Administration, and that land acquisitions could sometimes decrease management costs, for example, by removing “checkerboard” patterns of land ownership.

Jewell also responded to questions about the DOI’s plans to address water resource concerns in the West, the future of the National Blueways program, the DOI’s role in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and sequestration impacts on DOI operations.

Opening statements and witness testimony, as well as a video archive of the entire hearing, are available from the committee website.

-BLH

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Space Hearing on the NASA Authorization Act of 2013
June 19, 2013

Witnesses (with links to opening statements):
Dr. Steven W. Squyres
Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University
Mr. A. Thomas Young
Former Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Corporation

Committee Members Present (with links to opening statements):
Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Subcommittee Chairman
Donna Edwards (D-MD), Subcommittee Ranking Member
Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member
Mo Brooks (R-AL)
Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-MA)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Marc Veasey (D-TX)
Bill Posey (R-FL)
Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
Steve Stockman (R-TX)

On June 19, 2013, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Space held a hearing to review a discussion draft of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2013. The hearing focused on the future of human spaceflight, NASA’s role in STEM education, and how to best prioritize funding for key NASA programs.

In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-MS) provided an overview of the draft legislation. He emphasized the legislation’s focus on funding “core programs” such as the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion crew capsule, International Space Station (ISS), James Webb Space Telescope, and Commercial Crew Program. Additionally, the legislation prohibits NASA from implementing certain requests in the President’s FY 2014 Budget, which includes an Asteroid Retrieval Mission and a restructuring of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education that would eliminate most of NASA’s involvement in education and outreach.

Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ranking Member of the full committee, and Donna Edwards (D-MD) expressed concern that draft bill provides insufficient funding, including cuts of about one-third to NASA’s Earth Science program. “It doesn’t contain funding commensurate with the tasks NASA has been asked to undertake—in fact, it gives NASA additional unfunded mandates while maintaining deep sequestration cuts over the life of the bill,” Johnson stated.

Witness testimony from Dr. Steven W. Squyres, Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, and A. Thomas Young, Former Executive Vice President of Lockheed Martin Corporation, also highlighted the lack of funding and the worrisome cuts to NASA’s Earth Science program. Squyres and Young additionally emphasized that Congress and the Administration should focus on providing high-level goals, while the details of project implementation should be left to NASA experts.

Representatives queried the panel about the future of human spaceflight, the President’s proposed restructuring of STEM education, and the draft legislation’s proposed changes to NASA’s Space Technology program.

Several committee members raised questions about which intermediate milestones would provide the best foundation for sending humans to Mars. Edwards asked the panel whether establishing a lunar outpost was a necessary intermediate, and Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) questioned whether an Asteroid Retrieval Mission could be beneficial. Squyres and Young responded that neither a lunar outpost nor an asteroid retrieval mission was a necessary prerequisite for sending humans to Mars. The panelists applauded the draft legislation for requiring NASA to develop a roadmap to Mars, but emphasized that the roadmap should be developed by NASA rather than dictated by Congress.

Palazzo and Mo Brooks (R-AL) raised questions about the funding level for the Space Launch System. Brooks referred to letters he had received from former NASA administrator Mike Griffin and from another former NASA employee stating that the SLS would require $1.8 billion, rather than the $1.45 billion authorized in the draft legislation. Young stated that Congress could get an independent cost estimate to determine the required funding level, but emphasized that Congress needed to provide sufficient funding to enable NASA to meet its goals. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) suggested that the SLS project was a monetary drain on NASA and should be canceled; however, Squyres cautioned that the SLS or a similar large vessel would be required to send humans to Mars.

International partnerships and partnerships with commercial spaceflight companies were discussed as options to reduce the cost of human spaceflight. Rohrabacher stated his belief that companies such as SpaceX could put humans into space at less expense than NASA could. Marc Veasey (D-TX) asked the panelists to discuss the importance of building on the successful ISS collaboration during future human space exploration. Squyres and Young agreed that NASA should consider cost-sharing with international partners, and Squyres recommended that any international partners be included during the development of a roadmap to Mars.

Kennedy questioned the panelists about the draft legislation’s proposed restructuring of NASA’s Space Technology program. The Act would shift much of the responsibility for exploration-related technology development to the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. Squyres and Young worried that under budgetary pressure the mission directorate would use technology funds to solve immediate problems rather than developing innovative technology for the future. They recommended that some funding be maintained in a separate technology organization, and Young added that a strong oversight process would help to keep the technology relevant to NASA’s broader goals.

Squyres, Young, and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) expressed concern about the President’s proposal to diminish NASA’s role in STEM education and outreach and applauded the draft legislation for preventing NASA from moving forward with the restructuring. “NASA’s space missions are unique within the federal government, both in their technical audacity and in their capacity to educate and inspire,” Squyres stated. “I believe that dismantling NASA’s education and outreach efforts would deal a serious blow to our nation’s scientific and technical literacy.”

Opening statements and witness testimony, as well as a video archive of the entire hearing, is available from the committee website.

- BH

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2014 U.S. Department of Energy Budget
June 13, 2013

Witness:
The Honorable Ernest J. Moniz
Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

Committee Members Present: (with links to opening statements):
Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Subcommittee Chairman
Bobby Rush (D-IL), Subcommittee Ranking Member
Fred Upton (R-MI), Full Committee Chairman
Henry Waxman (D-CA), Full Committee Ranking Member
Joe Barton (R-TX)
Steve Scalise (R-LA)
Ralph Hall (R-TX)
Lois Capps (D-CA)
John Shimkus (R-IL)
Kathy Castor (D-FL)
Michael Burgess (R-TX)
Paul Tonko (D-NY)
Lee Terry (R-NE)
Gene Green (D-TX)
Bob Latta (R-OH)
Doris Matsui (D-CA)
David McKinley (R-WV)
Donna Christensen (VI)
Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Mike Doyle (D-PA)
Pete Olson (R-TX)
Morgan Griffith (R-VA)
Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Bill Johnson (R-OH)

On June 13, 2013, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing to discuss the fiscal year (FY) 2014 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) budget proposal. In his first testimony as Secretary of Energy, The Honorable Ernest J. Moniz addressed some of the House’s concerns regarding the FY 2014 budget and spoke broadly about his plans as Secretary.

In their opening statements, Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said that the current budget plan does not follow the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, one supporting both conventional and renewable energy, which the current administration claims to adhere to. Instead, Upton said, the current budget favors renewable energy and has a large “disparity in funding levels [which] directly conflicts with the President’s stated commitment to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy.” Whitfield and Upton both said they are encouraged to work with Secretary Moniz on this and other issues.

In Ranking Member Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) opening statement, he said he also supports the “all-of-the-above” agenda of the Administration. Rush also stressed the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education, especially for minorities, and was pleased with the past efforts DOE has put into STEM education for minorities.

During his testimony, Secretary Moniz said that America is still overly reliant on oil. The FY 2014 budget, Secretary Moniz explained, will double American energy production by 2030. Secretary Moniz also reported that the FY 2014 budget will support research for all types of domestic energy, including fossil fuels, geothermal, nuclear, and others. Secretary Moniz also mentioned DOE’s role in keeping the U.S. the world leader in supercomputers. However, Moniz stated, competitors are not far behind, and Congress needs to maintain funding to ensure U.S. leadership in this area.

Many questions were raised regarding the fossil fuel budget. Steve Scalise (R-LA) said the Administration’s current policy has made it harder to explore on federal lands, and has reduced energy production on federal lands. Scalise argued that the President’s “all-of-the-above” strategy does not include oil and gas, and has been limiting production by delaying bills such as the Keystone XL pipeline (H.R. 3) and the Offshore Energy and Jobs Act (H.R. 2231), which would open several outer continental shelf areas for leasing. Secretary Moniz emphasized that although he intends to increase oil and gas production on U.S. federal lands, many of the problems Scalise brought up regarding energy production are issues for the Department of the Interior.

Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and David McKinley (R-WV) brought up climate change issues. Secretary Moniz agreed with Waxman that there is a large anthropogenic component contributing to climate change. Secretary Moniz also stated that despite carbon emissions being at a 20-year low there is a “nearly unanimous” consent that we are on a “pathway to very negative consequences” regarding climate change.

Bob Latta (R-OH) asked Secretary Moniz “what is your stand on fracking?” Secretary Moniz responded that “all of the environmental issues that have arisen…are manageable.” Secretary Moniz went on to say that many of the problems have been due to poor execution in cementing and well completion.

Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Moniz about the process and timeline regarding natural gas exportation permits. Secretary Moniz responded that DOE will begin working through these permits in an expeditious manner, and expects to have them completed within the calendar year.

Opening statements and witness testimony, as well as a video archive of the entire hearing, are available from the committee website.

-CDK

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Review Programs and Activities of the Department of the Interior
June 6, 2013

 

Witness:
The Honorable Sally Jewell
Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

Committee Members Present:
Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
James Risch (R-ID)
Rob Portman (R-OH)

On June 6, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a full committee hearing to review programs and activities of the Department of the Interior (DOI). Witness testimony was from Sally Jewell, the new Secretary of the Department of the Interior, who spoke in broad terms about the various programs and activities of the Department, as well as the issues the DOI will face in the future. Although the scope of the hearing was broad, testimony and questions focused on specific issues facing members’ constituents and how the DOI would respond to these issues.

In his opening remarks, Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) praised the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 proposed budget for the Department of the Interior, which would represent a nearly 3 percent increase from enacted 2012 levels. He then went on to highlight his support for the Administration’s commitment to several aspects of the DOI, such as the conservation of public lands and renewable energy. He also urged Secretary Jewell to stay committed to these programs, such as the New Energy Frontier.

Although questions from the members tended to focus on regionally specific issues directly affecting their constituents, oil and natural gas production was the most common theme. Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) first addressed the issue in her opening remarks, where she voiced concerns about falling oil and natural gas production on federal lands, citing figures indicating a five percent decrease in oil production from last year, and an 8 percent decrease since last year – a 23 percent decrease since 2009 – in natural gas production. Secretary Jewell disagreed with this statement, indicating that onshore oil production on federal lands was “the highest in years.” Ultimately, Senator Murkowski suggested that the decline was due to a decrease in offshore production that more than offset the increase in onshore production, and expressed concern and a need to “look at the full picture” when discussing these matters.

Questions from Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) focused on hydraulic fracturing and on the Bureau of Land Management’s revised proposed Oil and Gas; Well Stimulation, Including Hydraulic Fracturing, on Federal and Indian Lands rule. Barrasso expressed concern that because industry could receive variance from states with equal or greater regulation, the rule was “unnecessary,” and it was "unclear why federal regulation is needed on top of state regulation.” Secretary Jewell stated that the purpose of the rule was to provide minimum standards for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. Franken and Portman both had questions about the permitting process, with Sen. Franken asking about the consideration of water issues when issuing permits, and Portman expressing concern about the length of the permitting processes, even in states with good regulations.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) also had questions related to oil shale, specifically whether the Department would uphold the 2012 Oil Shale and Tar Sands Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, or whether it would take a fresh look at the program to see if it complies with the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Both Secretary Jewell and Deputy Secretary David Hayes indicated that the Department would uphold the most recent rule, stating that there are 600,000 acres available for development, and they are prepared to defend the 2012 rule.

Opening statements and witness testimony, as well as an archived video of the hearing, are available on the Energy and Natural Resource Committee website.


-JTK

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Ernest Moniz to be the Secretary of Energy
April 9, 2013

Witnesses
Ernest Moniz
Nominee for Secretary of Energy

Committee Members
Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Brian Schatz (D-HA)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
James Risch (R-ID)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

On April 9, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to consider the nomination of Ernest Moniz to be Secretary of Energy.  Moniz is nominated to replace outgoing Secretary Steven Chu who served for President Obama’s first term. Currently a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) heading the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, Moniz previously worked as the Under Secretary of Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology. He also served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.

In his opening statement, Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) emphasized the need to transition “America to a lower-carbon economy.” He outlined some major issues Moniz would face as Secretary including “how to manage newly accessible reserves of natural gas, combatting (sic) climate change, making our economy more efficient and supporting new energy technologies.” He discussed the current natural gas boom and corresponding low prices, as well as the potential for and issues surrounding exporting natural gas. He brought up a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that “U.S. carbon emissions last year dropped to the lowest level since 1994, thanks largely to the rise of natural gas… [which] emits 50 [percent] fewer greenhouse gasses than traditional fossil fuels.” Wyden argued that “addressing climate is not just an issue of avoiding natural disasters; it’s also critical to maintaining our nation’s competitive advantage in a tough global economy.” He stated, “Our country needs to reduce our carbon footprint” and “renewables must be part of [the] solution.” He discussed a number of upcoming bills including some to “encourage hydropower and geothermal, which we would call the forgotten renewables.”

Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) praised Moniz in her opening statement as possibly being “the rare nominee who gathers wide bipartisan acclaim.” She spoke of his “intellectual honesty,” particularly regarding his statements “in favor of a free-flowing global gas trade…defend[ing] unconventional gas from spurious criticism… [and] refrain[ing] from opportunistically changing [his] mind about nuclear power after Fukushima.” She outlined some of the “challenges and problems” facing DOE including that the U.S. is “still in search of a broad, coherent, and consistent [energy] policy,” “energy-related programs and initiatives remain fragmented and scattered throughout the federal government, [and] not enough money is getting ‘to the bench’ for research and development.”

Moniz was introduced by former Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft. Bingaman spoke of Moniz’s “outstanding qualifications” and Scowcroft stated, “I can honestly say I do not know anyone more suited to lead the [DOE] at this difficult time.”

Moniz began his testimony stating, “If confirmed by the Senate, I will work to the best of my abilities to advance the public interest across all the missions entrusted to the Department of Energy (DOE) – energy, nuclear security, science, and environmental remediation.” He outlined his experience working in each of these areas.

He noted that “DOE is the lead funder of basic research in the physical sciences” and that he will “work with the scientific community and with Congress to assure that our researchers have continuing access to cutting-edge research tools for scientific discovery and for training the next generation.” He indicated that he would “pursue” the president’s “‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy…with the highest priority.” He stated that “the need to mitigate climate change risks is emphatically supported by the science and by many military and religious leaders as well as the engaged scientific community. DOE should continue to support a robust R&D portfolio of low-carbon options: efficiency, renewables, nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration, [and] energy storage.” He praised the numerous benefits associated with the oil and natural gas boom: job creation, manufacturing growth, reduced imports, and increased national security.

Moniz indicated that the “hardest challenges” with regard to nuclear environmental remediation sites are the “long term, expensive, complex clean-up projects in several states.” He “pledge[s] to work with the committee, with other members of Congress, and the affected communities and other stakeholders in the most transparent manner.” He aims to “accelerate solutions consistent with safe operations and budgetary realities so that contaminated lands can be returned to beneficial and productive use.”

During the question and answer section, Murkowski asked about Moniz’s commitment to an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy and his view on coal as part of the “all.” Moniz agreed with the “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. He indicated that while coal will continue to be a valuable energy resource domestically and globally, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology needs to become "a viable and cost competitive approach” for moving toward a low carbon economy. He also indicated the need for increasing “public confidence in long-term storage of large amounts of CO2.” In a separate question from Wyden, Moniz noted the importance of employing CCS, small modular reactors, and “the breadth of renewables including… small hydro and particularly engineered geothermal.”

Wyden inquired if Moniz agreed that “it has to be a priority to accelerate the transition to a lower carbon economy.” Moniz noted the current trend towards a low carbon economy and advocated for the U.S. to "pick up the pace.” Wyden brought up the issue that renewable energy resources are often considered not “price competitive with fossil fuel resources. Moniz indicated that “it’s the department’s push on the research and development agenda” and the “goal of innovation” to lower costs. He indicated that “remarkable cost reductions” are currently in underway for renewables such as solar and wind.

Mark Udall (D-CO) requested that Moniz “talk about how a balanced energy portfolio can and would reduce carbon emissions and slow climate change.” Moniz stated, “I certainly agree that the scientific basis warranting action is completely clear, there can be legitimate discussions about exactly what one does and at what pace.” He argued the importance of transitioning to a “low carbon economy,” using natural gas as a “bridge” energy source between traditional and renewable energies, employing CCS on coal and possibly natural gas in the future, and developing renewables and nuclear resources.

Much of the question and answer period focused on natural gas with Wyden and John Hoeven (R-ND) emphasizing hydraulic fracturing, the environment, and public sentiment. Wyden noted concern regarding the “lack of confidence that the public has” in hydraulic fracturing and how to “make sure that fracking is done in a responsible manner and to help address the public’s concern.” Moniz discussed the value of having “public confidence in environmental stewardship” and that while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulations, the DOE could make strides in areas such as methane emissions and improved data.  He noted the possibility of working with all of the stakeholders including EPA and industry.

Murkowski inquired as to Moniz’s “general philosophy” on natural gas exports, to which he noted that Alaska has been engaging in natural gas exportation for years. He stated that evaluating export applications involves taking into account the “public interest” and each application must be evaluated individually.

Dean Heller (R-NV) brought up issues of nuclear safety and waste. He asked, “Do you believe we should look past Yucca Mountain toward consent based sitings for long term spent nuclear storage?” Moniz stated he would pursue “advancing the blue ribbon commission agenda” including a consent based approach. He advocated for “moving the agenda of storage in parallel and aggressively moving the agenda of repositories.”

Opening statements, witness testimonies, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Committee’s web site.

-KAC

Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing to Consider the Nomination of Sally Jewell to be the Secretary of the Interior
March 7, 2013

Witness:
Sally Jewell
Nominee for the Position of Secretary of the Interior

Committee Members
Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
John Barrasso (R-WY)
Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Mark Udall (D-CO)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Tim Johnson (D-SD)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Al Franken (D-MN)
Jim Risch (R-ID)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Jeff Flake (R-AZ)
Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
John Hoeven (R-ND)

On March 7, 2013, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to consider the nomination of Sally Jewell to be the Secretary of the Interior. Jewell is nominated to replace outgoing Secretary Ken Salazar who served for President Obama’s first term. Currently the president and chief executive officer of Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), Jewell has worked previously in commercial banking and as an engineer for Mobil Oil Corporation. She serves on the Board of Regents for the University of Washington, the Board of Trustees for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and the Board of Directors for the Initiative for Global Development.

Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) began his opening statement noting that “serving as Secretary of the Interior is almost like an extreme sport for multi-taskers” and Jewell “knows a bit about multi-tasking from having been a petroleum engineer, a corporate CEO, a banker and a conservationist.” He stated, “Probably the biggest challenge Ms. Jewell faces will be striking the right balance between the Secretary’s dual roles of both conserving and developing our resources.” He raised the point that the “economics of public lands have changed” as outdoor recreation creates jobs and generates $646 billion annually and almost $40 billion in federal tax revenue. In addition to highlighting state-specific issues in Oregon, Wyden called on Jewel to respond to national issues including “ensuring taxpayers receive full value for resources produced from federal lands, managing the renewable and natural gas energy boom to ensure it is done in an environmentally responsible fashion, and finding a long-term solution to provide resource-dependent communities across the country a fair share of the revenue from federal lands.”

In her opening statement, Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) emphasized the need for balance within the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) policies. She called on Jewell to “convince us that you will maintain balance in the various missions and interests” of the DOI, “demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing our States, and again, we are looking for your strong commitment to the tenet of multiple use.” She stated, “We need you to affirm that public lands provide not just a playground for recreational enthusiasts, but also paychecks for countless energy producers, miners, loggers, and ranchers.” She warned against “federal overreach” and “misguided federal restrictions” that make it “harder for local people to live, be safe, and to prosper.” She brought up Jewell’s statement that one of her “top priorities is to upholding the sacred trust responsibilities to Native American and Alaska Native communities.” Murkowski outlined a number of concerns regarding DOI energy resource policies including issues of oil and gas development on federal lands, the possibility of increased federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, and the limited permitting for mining compared to other countries.

Sally Jewell described her qualifications and outlined her goals for the DOI in her testimony. She described her background with Mobil Oil, drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells, as well as her career in banking “as an energy and natural resources expert” and later working with a variety of businesses reliant on public lands. She outlined her accomplishments at REI including employing energy conservation and renewable electricity sources to lower the company’s “carbon footprint,” and “organizing volunteer projects and supporting hundreds of community organizations that connect people, urban and rural, to the outdoors.”

Regarding the operation of the DOI, she recognized the economic importance and job creating potential of public and Indian lands. She referenced their multiple uses “from energy development, to grazing, to logging, tourism and outdoor recreation.” DOI earned more than $12 billion from onshore and offshore energy production while the National Parks “generated an estimated $30 billion in economic activity and supported over 250,000 jobs in 2011.” She noted that “balance” is crucial at the DOI to “ensure that our public lands and waters are managed wisely, using the best science available, to harness their economic potential while preserving their multiple uses for future generations.”

Her testimony focused extensively on energy policy with a call for “smart policies,” and an “all-of-the-above strategy” that will “expand and diversify our energy production, cut our reliance on foreign oil, and protect our land and water.” In terms of the onshore and offshore oil and gas boom, Jewell emphasized the need to “provide industry with certainty and clarity” while ensuring that “development takes place in a safe and responsible way.” She spoke on the President’s charge to “double renewable electricity generation again by the year 2020” noting the role of the Secretary of the Interior to “make sure that we’re doing that in the right way and in the right places.”

She also spoke to the importance of addressing climate change and committed to “tapping into the vast scientific and land management resources at Interior…to better understand and prepare for the [resulting] challenges.”  She praised the “important progress” in conservation in “preserving our lands, waters and wildlife that define us as a people and make it America the beautiful.” She discussed a study by the Kaiser Family Foundations that found that “children spend an average of 53 hours a week in front of a screen” as well as other studies that “estimate that children spend less than 30 minutes a week in unstructured outside play.” Emphasizing that the U.S. has “a generation of children growing up without any connection to nature,” she aims to “redouble efforts to ensure that our open spaces, trails and parks are accessible and relevant to all people from all backgrounds.”

Wyden inquired about Jewell’s recommendations regarding natural gas development on federal lands. Jewell emphasized the need to “lean into” the resources of the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Land Reclamation, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and to “come up with safe ways to develop” resources.

Murkowski questioned Jewell on her work in conservation and “what comfort or assurance” she could provide to those focused on resource development. Jewell stated that there was “no question” that the Interior needed to take a “balanced approach.” As an example, she discussed how people want to utilize the outdoors and public lands for recreation, but need to fuel cars to get there.

Joe Manchin (D-WV) asked Jewell to explain what she envisioned as an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy. Jewell outlined such a strategy as including the use of the nation’s “vast reserves” of coal and natural gas, the development of renewable energy resources like wind, and the “leveraging” of technology such as carbon sequestration. She praised the USGS for “doing a good job” in exploring resources. Manchin also asked about oil and gas production on private and public lands. Jewell noted that “technology brought private lands to the front” and reminded the committee that production on a well “does decline over time.”

Dean Heller (R-NV) inquired as to her position on mining and whether she viewed it as a “threat to public lands.” She described her previous business dealings with mines and her understanding of the importance of mined materials. She stated, “I don’t have anything against mining” and noted the need for “responsible development” and the fact that mines she previously worked with followed regulations and functioned responsibly.

Jewell also showed support for working with Mark Udall (D-CO) on challenges facing the Land Water Conservation Fund which she called a “brilliant piece of legislation,” and Tim Johnson (D-SD) on rural water projects.

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked about climate change and if it was a “hoax.” Jewell responded that the “scientific evidence is clear” and that there is “no question that it is real.” She stated that “DOI experiences many of the impacts of climate change” and will have to adapt to these impacts. He asked if he could rely on Jewell as a “strong ally” in moving away from fossil fuels, to which she answered that she supported an all-of-the-above strategy with “continued significant emphasis on renewables.”

Martin Heinrich (D-NM) asked if Jewell would use science as her “guiding star,” especially when dealing with controversial issues. She answered that she would.

Opening statements, witness testimonies, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Committee’s web site.

-KAC

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and the Census Hearing on the Road Less Traveled: Reducing Federal Travel & Conference Spending
February 27, 2013

Witnesses:
The Honorable Rush Holt
Representative for the 12th Congressional District of New Jersey
The Honorable Danny Werfel
Controller, U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Cynthia Metzler
Chief Administrative Officer, U.S. General Services Administration

Committee Members Present:
Blake Farenthold (R-TX), Chairman
Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Ranking Member
Tim Walberg (R-MI)

On February 27, 2013, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing to receive testimony assessing government requirements for reducing federal travel and conference spending. In May 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo outlined policy changes in response to the General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas that cost over $820,000. OMB is directing federal departments and agencies to cut 30 percent of their fiscal year (FY) 2010 travel and conference spending by FY2013. Additionally, any conference costing over $100,000 requires senior level approval and the head of an agency must issue a waiver for any over $500,000.

In his opening statement, Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) described the hearing as “an opportunity to hear how OMB’s directive – if fully and responsibly implemented -- can potentially help save the taxpayer’s billions of dollars.” He stated that the committee hoped to evaluate “if these new policies have curbed wasteful expenditures, and what new statutory changes may be required to reduce travel spending appropriately and to shed greater transparency upon travel and conference spending.” He mentioned the reintroduction of the Government Spending Accountability Act (H.R. 313) to “largely implement the guidelines of the OMB memo.”

Ranking Member Stephen Lynch (D-MA) stated in his opening statement that the federal government “must be a good steward of American tax payer’s money.” He noted the importance of ensuring that “only necessary conferences are held, that only those who need to attend participate, and that there are no improper expenses.”

Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ) focused his testimony on the impact of reduced federal travel and conference spending on the scientific community. He stated that H.R. 313 and the OMB memo “initiate prohibitions and impediments that would hinder American scientists’ ability to collaborate and communicate with scientists at other institutions and laboratories.” He discussed how not only formal and poster presentations “lead to new collaborations that have the promise of new discoveries” but also “informal conversations.” He provided examples of successful collaborations at conferences that have resulted in groundbreaking applications such as cancer treatments. Holt advocated for modifying the bill and memo to “allow further scientific progress.” He noted, “We should be investing more in research and development, which means, of course, investing in scientists, but also investing in their ability to pursue science.” He closed his testimony declaring that “we should be spending more on the conferences like those which promote innovation” as they “are not wasteful spending, but instead are examples of federal investments in innovation and economic development.”

Danny Werfel, controller at the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), stated in his testimony that the “Administration has taken a number of aggressive steps to cut waste and modernize government…working to create a government that is more efficient, effective, and accountable to the American people.” OMB seeks to decrease “spending on travel and conferences by making smarter decisions, eliminating unnecessary trips and conferences, and implementing innovative solutions that reduce costs, safe time and achieve better results.” He detailed developments at the Department of the Interior: increased use of technology and media for distance meetings at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and increased “use of government vehicles for travel” rather than airlines and hosting of training in-house or at closer locations at the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement. DOI has reduced travel spending by more than $30 million.

Werfel discussed scientific conferences stating OMB is “aware of the important role travel and conferences can play in carrying out an agency’s mission.” He noted that “a meeting or symposium where scientific experts from the Federal government partner with their private-sector counterparts on critical research” is defined as a conference by the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR). However, he stated, “I think we all can agree that such activities are neither unnecessary nor wasteful” and “we must…be vigilant in protecting activities that are necessary and vital to our shared priorities as a Nation.”

In her testimony, Cynthia Metzler, chief administrative officer at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), discussed her role in promoting “efficiency within the agency and, in part, [ensuring] that our travel and conference policies have strong controls, effective oversight, and focus on reducing costs.” She outlined the changes implemented at GSA following the Las Vegas conference scandal and their efforts to comply with the OMB mandate.

In the question and answer section, Farenthold asked how close government agencies and departments are to achieving the 30 percent reduction in spending. Werfel responded that spending levels are “right in the range” of target levels. He indicated that there is “concern coming from the scientific community” about the critical nature of collaboration in the “advancement of science.”

Opening statements, witness testimonies, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Committee’s web site.

-KAC

 


Contributed by Wilson Bonner, Geoscience Policy Staff; Kimberley Corwin 2013 AAPG/AGI Spring Intern, Clinton Koch 2013 AIPG?AGI Summer Intern..

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Geoscience Policy.

Last updated on October 21, 2013

 

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