tv [untitled] April 3, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT
that -- >> we don't just want them setting up shop outside beijing. especially if we as the taxpayers have made these types of investments. >> right. it's a set of reasons to encourage american companies to set up manufacturing in the united states. those set of reasons include provisions on whether they can use research supported by the department of energy. but they also, quite frankly, include issues having to do with the climate in the united states the fiscal policies and tax policies. >> we know the climate here. and it's not to our benefit at the moment. so let me yield to the ranking member who through his opening statement shares very much my concern here. he can speak from an industrial base that has been stripped of a lot of its assets. >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary, i have a couple questions. we have five minutes at least on this first round.
i would associate myself with the chairman, and i'm very concern concerned. there was a provision for the stimulus bill in 2009. but it applied only to infrastructure investment. and when credits were used for energy programs, much of those facilities and products were imported. i'm told we lost one production facility and possibilities for solar. i produce more steel. i don't, my workers do in my district and any state in the country, and every time i see a 215-ton windmill imported because we don't make it here, i get furious. and i appreciate the last time we had a discussion you initiated the discussion, and i appreciate it, that there is a focus now at the department about making sure the intellectual firepower that you have is going to be used with a goal of making sure goods and products are
manufactured. i do appreciate that. the question i have on manufacturing is there is a proposal for manufacturing demonstration facility within the 2013 budget. and, again, on first blush, i think it's a swell idea. the concern i have is over about the last three to five years the department has established the bioenergy research center, energy innovative hubs, the energy frontier research centers and industrial assessment centers, clean energy regional application centers, manufacturing energy centers. and the obvious question is, do we need that? do we have too many centers? are we dissipating our efforts? >> no, i don't think we're dissipating our efforts. you named a lot of centers. >> i'm just saying why do we need the manufacturing done -- >> fair question. let me focus on that.
>> i have three minutes left here. >> right. those centers specifically are centers in which you work with american companies, and they're almost like incubated companies. i toured one. its was a carbon composite. it was done in conjunction with oakridge where you have companies and you test new manufacturing methods. so these companies say, well, we don't really know whether this is going to work or not. so you have a facility that helps them develop new manufacturing methods that can enable them to produce carbon composite materials which virtually the whole world thinks will be the material of the future. but in order to produce it cost effectively cheaper so you can actually embody them in american products. these are american companies that use this facility and say, look, we're going to do experiments. maybe they can't afford some of this stuff. but here's the facility. it's like an incubator house. come and we'll help you get started. i think that's -- those are
examples of the manufacturing facilities which i think are directly applicable to help keep manufacturing in the united states. >> okay. two last questions. the second one deals with the issue of management and would note that in the 2011 report by the gao, they did indicate that the department has made progress towards many of the recommendations relative to the watch list. but also suggested that d.o.e. needs to commit sufficient people and resources to resolve its contract management problems. you still have obviously nnsa as well as environmental cleanup about 60% of your budget on the list. further, very recently the national academy of sciences issued a report that talked about serious management issues or hampering the work at nnsa weapons laboratory noting persistent levels of mistrust
calling the relationship dysfunctional. what additional actions are you taking relative to the national academy's report in that just persistent year in and year out appearances of these agencies on that watch list? >> with regard to the watch list, as you noted, the office of science is now off the watch list. if you look at their recent record, it's 100% on time and on budget. and that's an existence movement from the department of energy that one can develop very complex multibillion dollar budgets and carry them through on projects. and so when i knew that when i walked in the door. concerted effort to export those best practices in the office of science to nnsa and to environmental cleanup. one of the things, let me very, very briefly say that a strong common denominator, especially in complex projects, for example, the nsa or wtp are doing is you don't start construction until a large
fraction of the engineering drawings are done. if you start putting shovels in the ground when you have 10% of the design done, you'll find out this is not only true in government projects. this is true in the private sector as well. you invariably find out that, oops, you should have done more design before you actually start the construction. and so one of the things we've seen -- so a lot of the things that you see are things put in progress years ago. and there is now concerted effort to make sure that you progress further along and first budget estimates but never -- but also be very reluctant to start putting shovels into the ground until you know what you're going to be building. >> all right. in light of that national academy report -- >> i'd love to tell you about that, but for another day. >> thank you. >> thank you. mr. rogers? >> thank you, chairman.
>> coal provides 50% of the nation's energy electricity today. if we went completely at 100 miles an hour developing other sources, you're still going to need coal and for the foreseeable future. it is an abundant resource that we have that we're called the saudi arabia of coal. it's inexpensive, relatively speaking. on the world market for energy. and, yet, it seems this administration is intent on completely shutting off the use of coal and the mining of coal for the purpose of generating electricity. epa is issuing regulations almost every day.
on the mercury and air toxic standards that ruled the issue, there's no way any -- there's no technology capable of meeting those standards. and so consequently, there can be no new coal plants because of that rule among others. at the same time, epa is demanding new technologies for compliance with their regulations. you are cutting the research that would develop those technologies. that seems to me to be incomprehensible. we have two agencies of the government at cross purposes. the fossil energy research and development program and your department has played an important role in improving existing technologies and inventing entirely new ones.
your request for funding is cut for fossil energy r&d is cut by 21%. $113 million cut. the request cuts advance energy systems by $45 million. that's almost half. and it cuts cost cutting research by $19 million, which is 40%. in essence, on the one hand the epa is saying you can't build a new plant because you don't have the technology to burn coal the way we want it burned. and you're saying, but i'm not going to give you the money to find those ways to burn coal the way you would like. help me out here. am i confused? >> mr. congressman, i have to say that i am very much supportive of developing those
technologies that you speak of. that would develop to be able to use gas and coal in a clean way. we believe that it is very important to develop those technologies not only in the united states but in partnership in the world what we're going to be doing. coal will be around for a long time, and we recognize that. and for those -- i think the congressman was at the rpe summit. he heard me talk about that this morning. how important it is that we continue that research. part of the issue and the budget was there was a lot of money rescinded in some of the carbon capture and sequestration projects that were a partnership between the government and private sector. and what we are trying to do our path forward we see as a viable path forward is that there is a
b beneficial use of carbon dioxide which will further our research in capturing carbon dioxide but not only to be used in enhanced oil recovery but also as we pump the carbon dioxide in the ground, we'll learn a lot about what is going on. and this at least industry is saying that what we say is all right. we understand. we're still interested in that. and so we're working -- we're trying to work with industry and reprogram some of this and we have interest in having the carbon capture and the sequestration part is now enhanced oil recovery which will tell us a lot, and it will help sequester in the short term, being five or ten years. we're going to learn a lot from that. >> you're proposing to cut the funding. you're going to cut fossil energy research and development by 21%. you're cutting advanced energy systems almost half.
cost cutting research by 40%. all the while, you're increasing funding for all the other research programs other than for coal. notably, a $500 million increase for the renewable program which is already funded at $1.8 billion. how do you explain that? that's completely contrary to the answer you just gave me if i understood you correctly. >> well, as i said, we do support the research. there's a deployment side -- >> then why are you cutting it? drastically cutting it. if you support it, that's a funny way of supporting. how are you supporting it other than with money? >> we are supporting it with money. we are supporting it with trying to work with the utility companies in these projects.
>> there's been lots of applications for fossil energy r&d. i don't think there's been any of them approved. >> r&d? excuse me? no, loan guarantees. >> loan guarantees. i'm sorry. >> i think the loan guarantees are ones where we are working through them. we want to actually -- we have the loan money. we're working through that and these are complex issues. i would like to see that loan money used. >> mr. dicks, ranking member. >> can you bring us up to date on yucca mountain? >> as far as i know, what is happening is that this is before
the courts and we're waiting the decision of the courts. >> we understand that if, in fact, the courts rule, and we believe that this still is the law of the land, that you have to start forward. how much you would estimate it would cost to get this project back on, you know, moving forward? >> i would have to get back to you on that. certainly, if the courts order us to proceed, we'll proceed. i can get back to you on the exact details. >> we understand it's around $100 million to get started. now tell us about your blue ribbon commission. what recommendations do they have on nuclear waste? >> well, what they recommended is, first, they -- as we all do, acknowledge that we have to solve this problem. and it's very important that we do solve the problem. one of the very important things
that they noted in that they spent about two years -- many, many meetings, very thorough job. so i commend them for the excellent job. but one of the things they noted was that other countries have done it in a different way, notably sweden. they think also finland has gone a different way. and so what they found was that -- >> can you tell us what those ways are? >> yes. sweden set up a public-private type of company. it's not officially in, let's say, the department of energy. that with this, they also noted if you can convince the people that this can be done in a safe way, that there are economic benefits. and what could have been, you know, let's pick you and you like it or not, it's going
there. it turned out to be three competitive bids for the right to put the spent fuel in these sites. and so it was a competition that kind of went completely in reverse. in fact, the losers, the people who did not get the site picked actually had some side benefits. but there was a serious competition to say we see economic benefit, and if you do this in a safe way, there's -- you can control the downsides. we actually have an example of that in the united states. there is radioactive waste in new mexico in carlsbad where it's been operating for 11, 12 years, roughly that period of time. great economic benefit. no accidents. it's been done in a very safe way, and it's been an economic prosperity for that region. >> in my hometown of bremerton,
warrant, we have a big shipyard. and nuclear-powered submarines are coming in and the waste is taken off the submarines and sent over to mr. simpson's district in idaho. and they're supposed to send it on to yucca mountain. there are agreements here. this got up to the level of the top level of the clinton administration -- i guess it was the clinton administration. and there's a time -- i think it's like in 2025 -- this has to happen or idaho will no longer be obligated to receive this waste. so this has implications. the fact that we're just letting this thing go on and on and on, i think, is a big mistake. and i was here. i voted for this. to go -- to do it at yucca mountain. and i think that's the law of the land. it hasn't been changed. i think you're going to wind up -- i think the courts -- i can't believe the courts are going to sustain your position.
so you better start looking at these alternatives. you better start figuring out how you're going to get yucca mountain moving forward. you just can't declare something at the executive branch that it's no longer the law. you got to come to congress and get the law changed. that hasn't happened. >> well, that was another very important recommendation in the blue ribbon commission. it is really up to congress if congress wants to change the law, and we would be willing to work with congress to do that. and we take the legal obligations very seriously. i think it's 2035 you have to get prepared. by 2037 you have to be in shipping. so, yes, we know that those are very serious obligations. >> thank you, mr. dicks. mr. lewis. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. dr. chu, thank you very much for being with us. i can't help but scratch my head
about the fact that we are able to acquire someone of your background and talent to serve in this capacity. to say the least, beyond the heat you'll be taking from committees like this, your willingness to serve is very much appreciated by many of us. your background is well known. a nobel prize winner in the arena of physics. but beyond that, you are celebrating your anniversary is another thing. your bride, dr. jean chu, holds a doctorate in philosophy from oxford university and above and beyond that, she served as chief of staff for two stanford university presidents as well as dean of admissions. my god it would be interesting to hear what you guys talk about at night. >> all i know for sure is she would not have admitted me.
>> i must say, your service is very much appreciated. but beyond that, the panel probably doesn't realize this, but yucca mountain has for all these decades essentially been in my district. and in the early days, it strikes me that unless we learn from this most recent history, we're bound to repeat the disaster at yucca mountain. i was fooling around with a figure earlier thinking that we spent something in the neighborhood of $9 billion in the yucca mountain catastrophe. it's closer to $14 billion as staff tells me. and in connection with that, in the early days of yucca, all of the politicians who want to solve this problem purportedly were supportive of yucca mountain as the location. especially when it was producing jobs in the local economic community. and then you move forward and lo
and behold there is some controversy around this subject. and all the politicians flee in spite of the billions of dollars they send on to you earlier. and the concern that we've got to have is that, first of all, we must solve this difficulty in an environment that is a political environment. and lord knows if we're not careful about learning from the past, we are bound, bound to repeat it. we'll spend billions of dollars again for another location following yucca mountain and lo and behold, what will happen? so one way or another we have to think through the pure politics of this if we're going to make serious progress. and the congress ought to be trying to help you work their way through that. and i can't say that we've done that very well up to this point. >> can i respond? >> please. >> first, thank you for your comments. i agree with you. and one of the recommendations of the blue ribbon commission is to set up this semiautonomous arm, like a dva, that says, get
it out of the political arena. get it so you can have very competent people. take a very professional avenue. what will be in the best interest of the united states in solving this problem? and so that was certainly one of the recommendations. but right now, you know, it's up to congress to weigh these considerations and to decide. but that is one of the clear recommendations of the blue ribbon commission. >> in the meantime, we are struggling with this reality. it was not that long ago that others in the arena where i serve, where the government was located, we all supported this -- this should go forward to a logical location. lo and behold, the next time you locate a facility, please don't locate it next -- somewhere near the speaker's district because the problems there will be endless as well. so between here and there, i would hope that your policy people would work very closely with us to try to have us together hand in hand and have an independent commission or
otherwise not just work effectively but get results at the other end. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and welcome again to the secretary. i wanted to go back to this question of technology transfer and jobs. i visited many of the federal labs. i think that the department in terms of executing its responsibility in terms of federal labs, you've done an extraordinary job, particularly in terms of the nuclear weapons, stewardship and the modernization efforts. i know the committee has done a lot to make sure that we fully fund that. also visited the firma lab and the aragon lab. this issue about government funded research is not limited to the energy department. nasa's got 17,000 patents. we could go through the list. but there are -- i think the administration has been doing some work in this regard.
i know that the white house is required all of the departments to work on this question of technology transfer and jobs and that energy is working hand in hand with the commerce department with the national innovative marketplace to get american manufacturers first run at many of these opportunities. but this is a serious issue. you got conflicting issues and as a scientists, you'll appreciate the fact that it is a conflicting issue in which scientists want to have broad interactions around inventions and new ideas and new approaches in the scientific community. at the same time, we are in economic competition with other countries. and so, you know, making all this information public, making it available leads to our economic competitors getting opportunities to work off of -- they pick the fruit off trees we planted with american taxpayer dollars.
and the issue here of taking patents or taking research that is taxpayer funded and having the jobs, the new widgets that are going to be made, we want in america. i introduced legislation in this regard, hr-2015 which is called the american discoveries american jobs act. which would focus the country on this question. because one of well intentioned lab personnel told me directly, he's got four patents. he tried to build these products here in america. but he got a much better offer somewhere else. all of the research was paid for by american taxpayer dollars. but those jobs are some other place. and there's a lot that we need to work on in this regard. and i think that i'm a big proponent of research.
i think our labs are a tremendous asset. i travel with the chairman and mike simpson and others. i was just amazed at the work by thousands and thousands of ph.d.s on behalf of the american people. but we want to make sure that jobs that are created stay here. and there's a lot of work we have to do. within that context. and the congress has to be involved because we're going to have to change some of the statutory language, i think, to require that if we're going to tax someone who's working every day in my district or someone else's district and invest it in some very smart people who come up and they're going to go out in the commercial market and make a lot of money. that's great. we want that. but we want the jobs that emanate from that to at least be somewhere in the domestic united
states, in 1 of our 50 states, you know, so that the whole country benefits from this. so rather it's mris or lasic eye surgery or gps, all is at the base of government-funded research. and we have to figure out a way to make sure that the jobs that emanate from that help us reinvigorate our manufacturing base. i'd be interested in you taking a look at the legislation. it's not obviously cast in stone. it's probably not going to pass any time in the near future. but i do think we have to work together in this regard. >> thank you. mr. simpson, whose name was invoked a few minutes ago. >> and very well, i must add. >> very well. >> i'm glad to see someone else brought up yucca mountain first. >> actually, i'm -- well, i don't know that i'm going to bring it up. a couple of quick questions. first of all, it's interesting that when you mention whip and the carlsbad area and how that created jobs and economic --
if you'll remember back to the beginning of whip, congress had to force whip on carlsbad. it was not readily accepted by the people of new mexico. we were sued several times and everything else. so sometimes these things have to get done one way or another, which has been the issue with yucca mountain, obviously. has the department embraced the blue ribbon commission's recommendations? and if so, will it require legislation to implement some of those provisions? and if so, will you present that to congress, or will it be done by administrative fiat such as closing yucca mountain? >> no, i think it's very clear that congress will have to play a very key role in -- if it wants to amendment the nuclear waste act. and so that would very clearly stated in the blue ribbon commission statement. >> it would take an amendment of a nuclear waste -- >> it depends on what parts you're talking about. for example, one of the recommendations was that, you
know, there are fees collected from the power generators. and those fees are considerable amount of money. >> right. $750 million a year. and they recommended that some fraction of those fees start to go to this -- if a semiprivate organization is set up because it gives, again, takes it away from the yearly appropriations, puts on a more professional basis. and it can start with a small fraction. but to let that begin because those monies are clearly collected for that reason. >> and it's recommended that that occur promptly? >> well, that would require an act of congress. >> have you proposed it? >> we would love to work with congress in deciding what congress would be willing to accept on those things. that's one example. another example is the blue ribbon commission points out you would want permanent storage sites