Fleischmann Remarks at FY24 Budget Hearing for the Department of Energy (As Prepared)

Mar 24, 2023

The hearing will come to order.

It is my pleasure to welcome Secretary Jennifer Granholm to the Energy and Water Subcommittee this morning to discuss the fiscal year 2024 budget request for the Department of Energy.

Madam Secretary, you well know that I strongly support the primary missions of your Department. Specifically – DOE, through the National Nuclear Security Administration, supports our nation’s defense through the maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpile and through support of the nuclear Navy. DOE, through the Office of Science, remains the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences.

Numerous offices are tasked with working to develop new, and improve existing, energy sector technologies in support of an all-of-the-above energy independence strategy. The Department is responsible for the clean-up of the nation’s environmental legacy resulting from decades of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.

So I was pleased to see strong funding for some of these missions in the fiscal year 2024 budget request. For example, the Weapons Activities account is increased, including an increase for the Uranium Processing Facility, critical for enriched uranium operations needed to support the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

Unfortunately, I’m concerned about some of the priorities expressed in the budget request. For instance, the Administration has highlighted clean energy and climate change goals as key drivers of the budget request – yet the Nuclear Energy program is cut by 12 percent below enacted. Nuclear energy – a baseload, carbon-free source of electricity – will be essential in achieving any climate change goals, so it is difficult to understand such a large cut, especially as other programs see double- and triple-digit increases.

A revitalized American nuclear industry also provides an additional energy export of geopolitical consequence, especially for countries seeking alternatives to Russian and Chinese entanglements. As such, I am particularly concerned that the Nuclear Energy budget includes only a modest increase for the Advanced Nuclear Fuel Availability program, which is working to advance the availability of high-assay low enriched uranium – or HALEU (hay-lou) – necessary for fueling the next generation of advanced reactors.

For the Office of Science – a program near and dear to my heart – the budget request proposes an increase of $700 million, or almost 9 percent. Yet that support pales in comparison to the $1.3 billion, or almost 40 percent, increase for energy efficiency and renewable energy activities. While I agree that both programs focus on important issues, I don’t agree with the significant difference in relative priority found in the budget request. 

Secretary Granholm, I appreciate you being here today to explain your budget request. I look forward to working together with you and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move forward a budget that will strengthen our national security and advance our energy independence.

Please ensure that the hearing record, questions for the record, and any supporting information requested by the subcommittee are delivered in final form to us no later than four weeks from the time that you receive them. Members who have additional questions for the record will have until the close of business Monday to provide them to the subcommittee office.

With that, I will turn to my Ranking Member, Ms. Kaptur, for her opening statement.