Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

David Applegate, a longtime U.S. Geological Survey official who has been nominated to lead the agency, discussed critical mineral supply chains and carbon sequestration with senators at his nomination hearing last month.

Mechanical engineer Evelyn Wang is on track to be confirmed as director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy, having received bipartisan praise from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

As the House and Senate prepare to convene a conference committee to reconcile their disparate proposals for sweeping national competitiveness legislation, a common vision has emerged for expanding the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science and Innovation Geri Richmond recently testified about the department’s organizational efforts to increase interchange between basic research, applied R&D, and deployment initiatives. Meanwhile, a number of senior R&D leadership roles at the department remain unfilled.

The Senate has added $5 billion for Department of Energy research infrastructure projects to the House-passed version of the Build Back Better Act, but the overall bill is in peril after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) declared he could not back it.

Physical chemist Geri Richmond and soil scientist Asmeret Asefaw Berhe appeared before a Senate committee this week for a hearing on their nominations to assume the top two science jobs in the Department of Energy. Both nominees appear likely to secure Senate confirmation, despite the top committee Republican questioning Berhe’s qualifications.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) has proposed special infrastructure spending legislation that would provide billions of dollars in funding for R&D, demonstration projects, and other initiatives to promote emerging energy technologies.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) is pressing for the technology competitiveness legislation that Congress is currently developing to incorporate innovation capabilities offered by the Department of Energy and its national labs.

A product of two years of legislative work, the Energy Act of 2020 overhauls policy across the Department of Energy’s applied energy and fusion R&D programs, including by recommending substantial funding increases and greatly expanding efforts aimed at reducing carbon emissions.

Although the new year might bring partisan gridlock in Congress, a bipartisan push for a major R&D initiative could materialize. Meanwhile, more routine science policy matters will be affected by turnover in congressional committee leadership.