Here are the highlights of the day:
It will not be easy to end China’s domination of supply chains
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm acknowledged the US dependence on China for clean energy technologies such as batteries and solar panels, but said the Biden administration was moving to bolster nationwide supply chains through the bill. climate Democrats and other laws.
“I don’t think we should be satisfied with saying, ‘We will give this component to China.’ We’ve seen what it’s like when a country relies on a supplier—it makes you vulnerable, » Granholm said. « If we’re going to be strong, we have to develop our American-made energy, everything from soup to nuts. »
The Biden administration has had to balance two sometimes contradictory goals of moving the nation away from fossil fuels while reducing reliance on China. His efforts to achieve the second goal included protectionist measures that angered US allies in Europe.
« We’ve been at the whim of our economic competitors, especially China, which has obviously had a strategic plan to corner the market in this area, » Granholm said. « And that’s something we should do for ourselves. »
The secretary touted clean energy tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act, last year’s giant climate bill, which strive to stimulate both the demand and supply of zero-carbon energy. He also warned against anti-Chinese rhetoric that could send signals that the United States does not welcome the Chinese diaspora.
« It’s a game of economic competitiveness and I think we should be careful, very careful, not to give the impression that we are anti-Chinese or anti-Chinese American, » Granholm said.
Jigar Shah, the director of the Energy Department’s office of loan programs, said the United States wants to attract foreign direct investment, but outlined the DOE’s processes to mitigate foreign influence.
And Sharon Burke, president of the research firm Ecospherics and a former Obama administration defense official, noted that « we cannot separate [from China] even if we wanted to.
The fight against the debt ceiling hangs over the energy industry
The White House and congressional negotiators are approaching a deadline to reach an agreement on the federal debt ceiling or risk an economically catastrophic default.
Speaker of the Chamber Kevin McCarthy On Thursday he expressed optimism that a deal could be reached in time, but the sides were divided on crucial issues, including Republican demands on fossil energy policy.
Both sides of the debate have expressed interest in attaching some changes in energy permit requirements — aimed at ensuring faster approval of energy projects — to a broader budget deal, but the sides have not yet agreed on what that would look like.
New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has warned that holding the debt ceiling « hostage » could threaten states’ economic growth and ability to act on climate change.
Former Maryland Representative John Delaney, also a Democrat, said the debt ceiling fights were « absolutely pointless and a complete waste of time, » but he was optimistic about a deal.
« I’m always a roller coaster of emotions, there’s a stalemate, but they all work out in the end, » she said.
And the sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) urged the White House to invoke the 14th Amendment to end debt limit negotiations, rather than accede to Republican policy demands. Legal scholars are divided over whether the president could use the amendment, which says the validity of the national debt « must not be questioned, » to get around the limit.
Everyone wants to allow changes
Leaders from both the fossil fuel and clean energy sectors have called on Congress to act on the permit changes, calling it necessary to provide the certainty required by the industry.
But Markey said progressives and supporters of pollution-burdened communities would not accept a permitting deal struck under pressure from a debt limit expiration.
“We will not come to a solution [on permitting] if it’s locked into a last-minute deal to make sure the US government doesn’t default on its financial obligations, » Markey said. « It’s by definition unacceptable. »
Granholm added during his remarks that there is « an urgent need » to move to permits.
« In the context of the debt ceiling, this is happening right now, but we should also be negotiating permits, » Granholm said. “We all feel this huge sense of urgency about it. It’s insane that it can take 10 years or more for a transmission line. It is not acceptable.
Critical minerals are creating an environmental dilemma
The United States lacks many of the critical minerals needed for the clean energy transition. The Biden administration is under pressure to increase domestic sourcing while maintaining environmental protections.
Burke said environmental groups are starting to recognize that it will be necessary to increase domestic mining and refining to meet climate goals.
« We have to make this transition, and the only way to get it right is to put all the stones on the table, » he said.
Even the nuclear industry has a supply chain that relies on a foreign adversary, a senior Energy Department nuclear official acknowledged.
Michael Goff, chief deputy secretary of the Office of Nuclear Energy, said Russia supplies about 20% of US uranium, but « it cannot remain a long-term supplier for us. »
DOE is looking at ways to replace it, he said, while maintaining reliability for Americans who rely on nuclear power and ensuring the supply of the specialized form of uranium needed for proposed advanced nuclear plants, which are now dominated by Russia.
Biden’s balancing act
Granholm he defended his support for moving forward with the Mountain Valley Pipeline in front of several demonstrators who stopped the event to protest the project.
The pipeline, which would carry natural gas from West Virginia to Virginia, has drawn fierce opposition from environmental groups.
« We know there is a real desire to have energy security in areas where there is enormous energy demand, » the secretary said. « We also know that we need to accelerate investments in clean. »
The remarks underscore the Biden administration’s poise in keeping its climate goals intact while acknowledging the continued role of the oil and gas industry in the economy.
“As far as the protesters here are concerned, these are really tough decisions,” Granholm said. “We are in this transition. We want to be able to ensure that our allies can turn on the lights. »
Markey said he’s optimistic that the United States will be looking at fossil fuels in the « rearview mirror » as the nation moves toward electric vehicles.
« This age of oil is coming to an end very quickly, » Markey said. The senator added, however, that he opposes « unnecessary » leasing to oil and gas companies.