Congressman Frank Lucas is raising more questions about the need for a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at the U.S. Department of Energy, suggesting it is another layer of bureaucracy and green energy effort created by the Biden administration.
As chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, the Oklahoma Representative joined committee member Brandon Williams, a Republican from New York in firing off a letter to the DOE bout the multi-billion dollar office and its role. So far, they had not received answers to their earlier questions.
“This massive influx of funding for an entirely new office under an untested and siloed management structure raises serious concerns about DOE’s ability to administer and coordinate these projects appropriately,” Lucas and Williams wrote.
“We are concerned that without robust guidelines and procedures in place to ensure coordination of these activities, longstanding Department initiatives and taxpayer dollars will be at risk.”
In November 2022, the Committee sent a letter to DOE requesting information about its progress in standing up OCED, an office tasked with overseeing the Department’s critical demonstration activities.
DOE was appropriated $27 billion dollars to launch the office under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). To implement these laws, the office was swept up in a major Department reorganization, placing it under the authority of the Under Secretary for Infrastructure while keeping most of the Department’s other demonstration activities and core R&D programs under the authority of the Under Secretary for Science and Innovation.
In the Department’s response to the Committee’s first letter, it failed to explicitly answer some of the most straightforward questions asked – specifically how the Department plans to ensure coordination between the DOE Undersecretary for Infrastructure and the DOE Undersecretary for Science and Innovation.
In the most recent follow-up letter, Lucas and Williams noted, “While the Department’s response to this letter included some substantive answers to the committee’s questions, it addressed this important area of concern by stating simply that OCED collaborates with relevant program offices through various methods like working groups, integrated program teams, and informal information sharing.
They called the DOE’s answer a “vague assurance” that didn’t address the nature of their questions.
The Members reiterated their concerns noting, “there is a high likelihood that the Department’s organizational structure could create bureaucratic hurdles that will delay progress in developing and deploying critical energy technologies.”
The Committee requested a briefing with DOE staff and written responses regarding the work and programs of the OCED by May 19, 2023.
The full letter can be found here.