Text: S.Hrg. 114-369 — PENDING NOMINATIONS OF SARRI, KIMBALL, KENDALL, WASSMER, MURRAY AND KOTEK
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[Senate Hearing 114-369]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
S. Hrg. 114-369
PENDING NOMINATIONS OF SARRI, KIMBALL, KENDALL, WASSMER, MURRAY AND
ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS
THE NOMINATIONS OF KRISTEN JOAN SARRI, TO BE AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF
THE INTERIOR (POLICY, MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET); DR. SUZETTE M. KIMBALL,
TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY; MARY L. KENDALL,
TO BE INSPECTOR GENERAL AT THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; VICTORIA
MARIE BAECHER WASSMER, TO BE UNDER SECRETARY OF ENERGY; DR. CHERRY ANN
MURRAY, TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF
ENERGY; AND JOHN FRANCIS KOTEK, TO BE AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF ENERGY
OCTOBER 20, 2015
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COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
LISA MURKOWSKI, Alaska, Chairman
JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho RON WYDEN, Oregon
MIKE LEE, Utah BERNARD SANDERS, Vermont
JEFF FLAKE, Arizona DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
STEVE DAINES, Montana AL FRANKEN, Minnesota
BILL CASSIDY, Louisiana JOE MANCHIN III, West Virginia
CORY GARDNER, Colorado MARTIN HEINRICH, New Mexico
ROB PORTMAN, Ohio MAZIE K. HIRONO, Hawaii
JOHN HOEVEN, North Dakota ANGUS S. KING, JR., Maine
LAMAR ALEXANDER, Tennessee ELIZABETH WARREN, Massachusetts
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia
KAREN K. BILLUPS, Staff Director
PATRICK J. McCORMICK III, Chief Counsel
ANGELA BECKER-DIPPMANN, Democratic Staff Director
SAM E. FOWLER, Democratic Chief Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Murkowski, Hon. Lisa, Chairman, and a U.S. Senator from Alaska... 1
Reed, Hon. Jack, a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island................ 3
Cantwell, Hon. Maria, Ranking Member, and a U.S. Senator from
Capito, Hon. Shelley Moore, a U.S. Senator from West Virginia.... 5
Manchin III, Hon. Joe, a U.S. Senator from West Virginia......... 5
Sarri, Kristen Joan, to be an Assistant Secretary of the Interior
(Policy, Management and Budget)................................ 7
Kimball, Dr. Suzette M., to be Director of the United States
Geological Survey.............................................. 13
Kendall, Mary L, to be Inspector General at the Department of the
Wassmer, Victoria Marie Baecher, to be Under Secretary of Energy. 30
Murray, Dr. Cherry Ann, to be Director of the Office of Science
at the Department of Energy.................................... 34
Kotek, John Francis, to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy
(Nuclear Energy)............................................... 39
ALPHABETICAL LISTING AND APPENDIX MATERIAL SUBMITTED
Cantwell, Hon. Maria:
Opening Statement............................................ 4
Capito, Hon. Shelley Moore:
Opening Statement............................................ 5
Kendall, Mary L.:
Opening Statement............................................ 20
Written Testimony............................................ 22
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 150
Kimball, Dr. Suzette M.:
Opening Statement............................................ 13
Written Testimony............................................ 15
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 129
Kotek, John Francis:
Opening Statement............................................ 39
Written Testimony............................................ 41
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 217
Manchin III, Hon. Joe:
Opening Statement............................................ 5
Murkowski, Hon. Lisa:
Opening Statement............................................ 1
Murray, Dr. Cherry Ann:
Opening Statement............................................ 34
Written Testimony............................................ 36
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 205
Reed, Hon. Jack:
Opening Statement............................................ 3
Sarri, Kristen Joan:
Opening Statement............................................ 7
Written Testimony............................................ 10
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 79
Vitter, Hon. David:
Letter for the Record........................................ 48
Wassmer, Victoria Marie Baecher:
Opening Statement............................................ 30
Written Testimony............................................ 32
Responses to Questions for the Record........................ 193
Wyden, Hon. Ron:
Letter for the Record........................................ 227
PENDING NOMINATIONS OF SARRI, KIMBALL, KENDALL, WASSMER, MURRAY AND
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural
The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:08 a.m. in
Room SD-366, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Hon. Lisa
Murkowski, Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LISA MURKOWSKI, U.S. SENATOR FROM
The Chairman. Good morning. The Committee will come to
We are here this morning to consider a total of six
nominations before the Committee, three for each of the
Departments that are under our jurisdiction.
For the Department of Energy we have Dr. Cherry Murray to
be the Director of Office of Science, Ms. Victoria Wassmer to
be the Under Secretary of Energy, and Mr. John Kotek to be the
Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.
For the Department of the Interior we have Ms. Mary Kendall
to be Inspector General (IG), Dr. Suzette Kimball to be
Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Ms. Kristen
Sarri to be the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and
I have said before this Committee that Secretary Moniz, in
my opinion, is doing a good job at the Department of Energy. I
do not necessarily agree with everything, but he works with us.
He listens to us, and I think that he deserves to have a team
in place to support him.
Unfortunately, I am not able to say the same when it comes
to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. Instead,
the Interior Department's record has been very frustrating,
particularly if you are an Alaskan. We are seeing decisions out
of the Department of the Interior that are really destroying
our hope to be independent as a state.
Ms. Sarri, the Interior Department describes the position
that you have been nominated for as providing overall policy
direction, leadership, guidance and assistance on a broad range
of management and operational issues. I would say that the
Department needs serious help in those areas given the repeated
policy disappointments that we are seeing in my state.
We had one bit of good news when the President came to the
state in August when he made the decision to rename Mt.
McKinley as Denali. We appreciated that.
But Interior has also closed off half of our national
petroleum reserve which was specifically designated for oil
production. It has stalled projects in the NPRA that would help
restore throughput in our TransAlaska pipeline system. It has
effectively locked nearly all of ANWR up as permanent
wilderness despite opposition from 70 plus percent of Alaskans.
I am certainly not going to forget the heartless decision
that Interior made to deny King Cove an 11-mile, life-saving
road nearly two years ago or the absolute lack of assistance
that Interior has provided since then as we have seen 32 more
Medivacs from that community.
We have had more recent examples that get my attention in a
very, very strong way. A few weeks ago the deteriorating
regulatory environment played a key role in Shell's decision to
abandon seven years of work and $7 billion in investment in the
offshore Arctic. And just this past Friday, Interior rejected
lease extensions and canceled the offshore sales that are
scheduled for 2016 and 2017.
If you are an Alaskan and you are reading the headlines,
you have to wonder what is going on within Interior. Why do
they have it out for us? How can Interior set up a regulatory
regime that prevents companies from having commercially viable
exploration programs and then claim that it shows a lack of
interest somehow in the Arctic?
So Ms. Sarri, this is a long way of saying that you are
going to need to convince me that you are part of the solution
and not part of the problem for Alaska at the Interior
I have had good discussions with Ms. Kendall, but I am
attempting to reconcile two conflicting impulses when it comes
to this particular nomination. I strongly believe that Interior
needs a permanent IG. I am disappointed the Administration has
let the position go unfilled for six and a half years, but I am
also committed to ensuring that the individual that we confirm
is fully independent, with good judgment in difficult
situations and a firm grasp of the responsibilities of an
Inspector General, not only to the Secretary but to Congress as
well. The law requires an IG to meet her independent
obligations to Congress. While we expect that the IG always
approach her work with civility, she must never compromise her
Ms. Kendall, I am sure you understand that the bar for an
IG is high, especially as your confirmation would be tantamount
to a lifetime appointment. The tenure that you have been
involved with us for in this position has been marked by
controversy, so you will hear legitimate questions raised today
as to whether or not you are the right fit for the permanent
For the purposes of the Committee here this morning, we are
going to be hearing again from all six of the nominees. Several
of our colleagues will also introduce the candidates. There is
a vote on the floor scheduled for 11 o'clock.
In terms of the order here this morning we will first hear
from Senator Reed. After we hear from Senator Reed, who will
introduce Ms. Sarri, our fellow Committee members Senators
Capito and Manchin will introduce Dr. Kimball. After those
introductions we will ask the nominees to come forward, and
then nominees will be invited to introduce their family members
or any guests that are present. After those introductions I
will swear in the witnesses, we will have a short statement
from each nominee and then when the vote is called we will
assess where we are. I would like to keep moving throughout the
hearing this morning without taking a break, but we will assess
that at the 11 o'clock hour.
With that, I would like to turn to our colleague, Senator
Reed, from Rhode Island. Welcome to the Committee. I know you
are a busy Senator this morning as well, so we appreciate you
coming by to make the introductions.
STATEMENT OF HON. JACK REED, U.S. SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND
Senator Reed. Thank you very much, Madam Chairman, Senator
Cantwell, members of the Committee. I am delighted to be able
to introduce Kris Sarri, the President's nominee to the
Department of the Interior as Assistant Secretary of Policy,
Management and Budget. Kris is joined today by her mother,
Rosemary, her sister, Cathy, her niece, Gabriella, and her
nephew, Alex, and I extend my warmest welcome to all of them.
Kris is a native of Michigan. She first began service on
Capitol Hill in 2001 as the Legislative Director of the
bipartisan Northeast Midwest Senate Coalition which I chaired
along with Senator Collins, and in that capacity she brought
thoughtful, bipartisan, analytical skills to bear on a daily
She was somebody who worked both with Senator Collins and I
very well and very effectively, and I think she will do that in
the Department of the Interior. She always, indeed, made sure
there was a thorough, thoughtful basis for the policies that
the coalition proposed.
After her work there, I was so impressed I asked her to
join my office. She did. She was a key member of my team with
respect to appropriations, natural resources and energy issues.
Superbly gifted, talented, intelligent, thoughtful, asks the
right questions and with a temperament that really inspired,
not only confidence but collaborations. So I cannot think,
again, of a worthier nominee that would come before this
After leaving my office she was so good she was plucked
away by the Department of Commerce where she was a Deputy
Director of Policy and Strategic Planning and a principle
advisor to the Secretary of Commerce. I think, once again,
because of her success there, she was identified as someone who
could add skill and expertise to the Office of Management and
Budget. She served there as the Director of Legislative
Affairs. Once again, contact with offices on both sides of the
Hill in a bipartisan, thoughtful manner, and she really
distinguished herself. She understands how policy works. She
understands it is about principle, collaboration and
compromise. She is particularly gifted when it comes to the
issues in the environment that are so important to the mission
of the Department of the Interior.
I know she is going to do a superb job, and I thank you
very much, Madam Chairman, for having this hearing.
For my colleagues, she has got the temperament, the
collaborative spirit, the tactical skills and the sincere
commitment to serve the public interest with the highest
standards. With that, I would urge the Committee's support, and
once again, thank the Chairwoman for her gracious hospitality.
Thank you, Madam.
The Chairman. Thank you for joining us, Senator Reed.
Senator Cantwell? I did not mean to skip over you.
Senator Cantwell. That is okay.
The Chairman. But felt that we should get our colleague
here in and out of the Committee. I apologize, and I defer to
you at this time.
STATEMENT OF HON. MARIA CANTWELL, U.S. SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON
Senator Cantwell. That is quite alright. We appreciate our
colleague being here and speaking on behalf of the nominee.
I thank the Chair for scheduling what I consider to be an
important hearing and welcome all six of the nominees that are
before us today because these are important positions.
We have six nominees whose work really is the underpinning
of the missions of two of our departments that this Committee
has jurisdiction over. We have before us nominees for the top
management positions for the Department of the Interior and the
Department of Energy, and I consider these key, essential
people to helping our agencies work. We have the leads of both
agencies' premier science groups, and they provide very
important scientific information and research necessary for the
Departments to help carry out their missions.
In addition, we have the head of the Nuclear Energy Office,
who is responsible for designing safe nuclear reactors for the
future and also finding a path forward for disposing of the
waste from our current and past civilian and defense nuclear
Finally, we have the Inspector General for the Department
of the Interior, who is responsible for ensuring the integrity
of the Department's diverse and important operations.
We are fortunate, I believe, to have six highly qualified,
experienced nominees in front of us. Four of the six
individuals have actually been performing the functions of
these offices to which they are nominated in their current jobs
and as the Principal Deputies to those offices--three of them
for more than a year, so they have already demonstrated their
fitness and ability to serve in the positions to which they
have been nominated. Indeed, the Committee approved Dr.
Kimball's nomination last year.
I look forward to hearing from all of these nominees this
morning, and I know that my colleagues will have great
questions for each of them. So thank you for helping us move
these important positions.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Cantwell.
At this time I would ask the six nominees to come forward
and we will have introductions, again, as I mentioned from
Senator Capito and Senator Manchin for Dr. Kimball.
Senator Capito, if you would like to proceed with your
STATEMENT OF HON. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, U.S. SENATOR FROM WEST
Senator Capito. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I apologize in advance for my voice or lack of, so this is
probably a good thing I have no voice. I am very pleased to
join my colleague, Senator Manchin, in introducing Dr. Suzette
Kimball today. I met her in April when she came to visit and
talk about her position and her nomination to be Director of
I wanted to highlight a little bit about, how I feel the
USGS really impacts a small state like West Virginia and how
appreciative we are of their efforts.
USGS helps to identify coal and mineral reserves, monitor
water quality and provide accurate mapping which has been
incredibly important throughout Appalachia. The scientists and
researchers at USGS work to help keep our country safe from
national disasters by monitoring earthquakes, wind, wildfires,
volcanoes and their warning systems provide real-time
information in times of crisis. Also, the USGS network of
stream gauges throughout West Virginia and the United States
are an important resource that helps our kayakers and our
whitewater rafters make the most of their trips down river,
helps fishermen find the best place to cast, helps engineers
design bridges that can withstand floods and helps cities and
towns better manage their water supplies.
The USGS played a pivotal role in helping the West Virginia
Department of Environmental Protection respond to the January
2014 Elk River chemical spill by collecting water samples and
performing rapid analysis.
I know that Dr. Kimball, in her past, has accumulated much
valuable expertise and experience that she will bring to this
position and that will benefit not just those of us in West
Virginia but across the country. And I welcome her here today
as a fellow West Virginian.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Capito.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOE MANCHIN III, U.S. SENATOR FROM WEST
Senator Manchin. Let me just say that what my colleague and
my friend, Senator Capito, has said is all accurate and very
true. I am also pleased to be able to speak on Dr. Kimball's
behalf. She has lived in West Virginia for 17 years and has
served as a Deputy Director of the U.S. Geological Survey at
the Department of the Interior since 2010.
Dr. Kimball and I share a passion for the rich history of
our state and dedication to public service. She is an active
member of the Eastern Panhandle's farm land and historic
preservation communities. In fact, she and her husband, Curt,
live in a White House Farm. It is a local landmark built in the
1740's and used during the Revolutionary War to aid the
American troops. Their farm was even surveyed by George
Washington, so it is pretty special.
Beyond our personal connection Dr. Kimball continues to
impress me with her dedication to the scientific mission of the
U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS is not a partisan agency. I
repeat, not a partisan agency and issuing burdensome
regulations, instead they provide crucial, impartial
information and added to the Federal agencies and to the
public. As Senator Capito just mentioned, she is, they were
greatly involved in helping us during the historic effects of a
spill in the Elk River that affected 300,000 West Virginians
for quite some time. So I really appreciate her and her
interest and involvement in that effort.
I think I speak for all West Virginians when I say I am
delighted Dr. Kimball has chosen West Virginia as her home, and
I am grateful for her service.
I would also like to remind this Committee that in June
2014 we approved her nomination by unanimous voice vote with
not one dissention, so she has been at this for a while. I
think it is time that we move on, if you will.
She is doing the job. She has not changed one bit. She is
the same Suzette Kimball that she was a year ago and she has
been for quite some time. She will serve us very ably and
So I appreciate, very much, the opportunity to speak on her
behalf and hope that all the Committee would receive her as we
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Manchin.
At this time I would invite any of you at the table to
introduce any family members that you might like to present
before the Committee, and after that we will swear you each in.
If we want to begin at this end, Ms. Sarri.
Ms. Sarri. Thank you very much, Senator.
I am so happy to have my family here with me today. I have
my mom, Rosemary, who is sitting right there; my niece, Gabby;
my nephew, Alex; and my sister, Cathy, with me.
The Chairman. Good. Well, welcome to all of you.
Dr. Kimball. Thank you very much, Senator.
I am really honored to be able to introduce my husband,
Curt Mason; our daughter, Michelle Muerr; our close family
friend, Lisa Herman; and her son, Aaron, who is already an
accomplished political analyst. [Laughter.]
The Chairman. Ahh, very good. We might need his help.
Welcome to all of you.
Ms. Kendall. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
I am pleased to introduce my daughter, K.J. Adler, who is
also my best friend.
The Chairman. Great, it is nice to have you here before us
Ms. Wassmer. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I would like to
introduce my mother, Viola Becker; my husband, Franklin
Wassmer; and my son, Christophe Wassmer, who were able to join
The Chairman. Good to have the family here.
Dr. Murray. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
It is my pleasure to introduce my sister, Nancy Murray, and
her husband, Brad Curtis, who come here from Tucson, Arizona.
The Chairman. Great, long way to come, good support.
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, Chairman. I am sorry to report my
wife and school age children are back home in Boise.
Where they're attending to their studies, so.
The Chairman. If they are in school that is a good thing.
We appreciate that.
At this time I would ask each of you to rise. The rules of
the Committee which apply to all nominees require that you be
sworn in connection with your testimony. Please stand and raise
your right hand.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to
give to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
[All nominees answer, I do.]
The Chairman. Before you begin your statement I will ask
you three questions addressed to each nominee before this
Will you be available to appear before the Committee and
other congressional Committees to represent departmental
positions and respond to issues of concern to the Committee?
[All nominees answer, I will.]
The Chairman. Are you aware of any personal holdings,
investments, or interests that could constitute a conflict or
create the appearance of such a conflict should you be
confirmed and assume the office to which you have been
nominated by the President?
[All nominees answer, no.]
Mr. Kotek. No, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman. Is that a no by each of you? I was not sure.
Are you involved or do you have any assets held in blind
[All nominees answer, no.]
The Chairman. Okay.
Go ahead, be seated. Thank you very much.
At this time I would ask that each of you present a short
statement to the Committee. Your full written statements will
be included as part of the record. After statements from each
of you, we will have an opportunity, as members of the
Committee, to present our questions to you.
With that, Ms. Sarri, if you would like to proceed?
STATEMENT OF KRISTEN JOAN SARRI, TO BE AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF THE INTERIOR (POLICY, MANAGEMENT, AND BUDGET)
Ms. Sarri. Thank you very much and good morning.
Thank you, Chairman Murkowski, Ranking Member Cantwell and
members of the Committee for welcoming me to the Committee this
morning. It's a privilege to be considered by this Committee as
the President's nominee for Assistant Secretary for Policy,
Management and Budget (PMB) at the Department of the Interior.
I want to thank Senator Reed for his support of my
nomination and throughout my career. It's his dedication to
public service, his work to improve the lives of others and his
work ethic that really serve as a model for me.
I'm very pleased, also, to introduce my family, my mom,
Rosemary; my sister, Cathy; my niece, Gabby; and my nephew,
My mom is a constant supportive inspiration to me. At the
age of 89, she is still an active social worker and she still
comes with me to Michigan home football games. So she's an
involved member of her community. She, at a very early age,
instilled in me the benefits and the need to engage in public
I also want to acknowledge my dad, who was a Greek
immigrant to this country after World War II. He fell in love
with our national parks, and every summer he used to pack up us
in the family station wagon and take us on a new adventure out
West. It was really these adventures out West that inspired my
love of the great outdoors, and it's something that I hope I'd
pass along to my niece and to my nephew.
My family has been a constant source of support for me, and
I'm always thankful to them for their love.
Finally, I want to thank members of this Committee and
their staff for taking time to meet with me. If confirmed, I'm
looking forward to continuing the conversations that we had and
strengthening the vital relationship between this Committee and
Throughout my career I've sought out opportunities to
promote community development, natural resource stewardship and
job creation by building partnerships and working to strengthen
the effectiveness of government. Prior to joining the
Administration, as Senator Reed mentioned, I have spent about
nine years on Capitol Hill working for the bipartisan,
Northeast Midwest Senate Coalition, Senator Reed and also the
Senate Commerce Committee, where I was fortunate to have
Senator Cantwell as my Subcommittee Chair.
In each of these roles I had the opportunity to work with
Senators who focus really on how government should work best to
serve the American people while bolstering our economy and
protecting the environment. I learned from them the value of
strong, bipartisan cooperation and the need to gain other
perspectives when developing policy. It's these lessons and
experiences that I carry with me.
Now as this Committee well knows, the Department of the
Interior is a significant contributor to our nation's economy.
And Interior has special trust responsibilities to American
Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and affiliated Island
communities. It's also responsible for conserving and
protecting our natural resources and our cultural resources. So
I view PMB's role as supporting the Secretary, Deputy Secretary
and our bureaus as we work to drive impacts for the American
people in our diverse areas of responsibility.
PMB does this in several important ways. First, it works to
ensure the sound stewardship of Interior's fiscal resources.
Second, it works to increase the efficiency of our programs and
reduce costs so we can invest more in mission. And third,
through the management of the Department wide programs and
policies, PMB helps with coordination and cohesion throughout
For the past year I have served as the Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary for PMB, and I've had the privilege to work
with a team of highly skilled and committed staff. If confirmed
I hope to continue to strengthen the Department in a few key
First, Interior's work force. It is large, geographically
diverse and increasingly eligible to retire. If confirmed I
would want to work on efforts to increase our work force
diversity in order to deliver mission effectively for the
Second, Interior is committed to improving access to public
data with preferred transparency and also to improve resource
management. For example, we are working with our partners in
industry and academia and across the Federal Government to make
public land data more available to help build apps, support
tourism and improve customer service. And if confirmed I would
like to continue with these open data efforts.
Finally, PMB is responsible for Department-wide programs
from wildland fire management to the cleanup of contaminated
sites to emergency management. It also plays a key role in
coordinating across bureaus and with other agencies on policies
from invasive species, to land conservation, to youth
engagement. And if confirmed I would welcome the opportunity to
work with this Committee and the Congress on these issues.
Again, I want to thank the Committee for considering my
nomination, and I look forward to answering your questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Sarri follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
The Chairman. Thank you, Ms. Sarri.
STATEMENT OF DR. SUZETTE M. KIMBALL, TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE
UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY
Dr. Kimball. Thank you, Chairman Murkowski, Ranking Member
Cantwell and members of the Committee. I'm honored to appear
before you today as President Obama's nominee to be Director of
And I thank you, Senators Manchin and Capito, for your kind
introduction. I'm very proud to be a resident of wild and
wonderful West Virginia.
I would also like to acknowledge and honor my family, those
here today and those watching at home. One cannot accomplish
these types of jobs without the full support of one's family.
I was raised to not only value public service, but to also
see it as a responsibility. My father and brother had military
careers. My mother was a teacher. Most of my cousins have
served in the military or civil service and my husband
dedicated his career to civil service, so for me, public
service is the family business.
Although I did not have a childhood steeped in outdoor
experiences that set the stage for my career path, I had the
good fortune to take a geology course from a remarkable
educator, Dr. Gerry Johnson. His compelling lectures engaged my
imagination and passion for understanding the processes that
drive Earth systems and the impacts of natural events.
My PhD program in Earth Sciences at the University of
Virginia showed me the value of integrated environmental
sciences, a context that forces one out of narrow, academic
boundaries and requires competence in a spectrum of
disciplines. This perspective will serve me well if confirmed
as USGS Director as the questions we face today also transcend
traditional academic fields and asks us to understand not only
the geologic foundation in operative physical processes but
also the potential impacts to biological systems and to the
I've had the good fortune to serve in both academia and the
Federal Government. My years in the National Park Service gave
me an understanding of the pressures that land managers face
and the types of information that can be most useful to them.
This experience gives me a unique perspective to support and
partner with the entire Department.
Since coming to the USGS in 1998 I've had the opportunity
to see the breadth and depth of this outstanding organization
from many perspectives. It's noteworthy that we do not issue
regulations nor do we manage resources. The scientific nature
of the USGS, its national perspective and its non-regulatory
role enable us to be both policy relevant and policy neutral.
Since its founding in 1879, the USGS has made enormous
contributions to the health and well-being of the country and
the world as well. These achievements include the science that
has delineated the mineral and energy resource base in the
nation, that helps protect lives and livelihoods from the
effects of natural hazards, that enable safe public water
supplies, that supports restoration of ecosystems and that
provides assistance to other nations for resource and hazard
Our society faces pressing issues that science can and must
help address, challenges like ensuring sustainable development
of natural resources, dealing with climate change, coping with
natural disasters and ensuring water and food security.
We live in a global economy. Understanding the worldwide
distribution of both resources and risks is essential to the
country's security and economic health. The USGS has made
progress to address these issues including regional landslide
assessments and earthquake early warning system. And we
continue to develop nationwide, 3D elevation data, new hyper
spectral technologies to map mineral distributions. And we
brought new life cycle analyses to critical minerals analysis.
We have advanced the national assessment of groundwater
availability. We have developed new strategies to contain the
Asian Carp and other invasive species. And we've contributed to
the science needed to understand critical ecosystems such as
the sagebrush steppe. In all of these efforts we appreciate the
support of Congress and in particular, this Committee.
Looking to the future the USGS needs to continue these
efforts for which we have unique capabilities, but we also need
to be responsive to emerging needs. We are increasing the
involvement of sociologists and economists in our studies in
order to ensure that our science is relevant to the public.
We're providing new technologies to protect public health
and safety and new tools for communities to become resilient in
the face of challenges such as changing climate or water
scarcity. And we are engaging young scientists to be part of
our future, a future that will be worthy of our long history of
achievement for the nation and the world.
I'm deeply grateful to Secretary Jewell and President Obama
that they've chosen to nominate me to lead this outstanding
scientific organization. If confirmed, I look forward with
working with you to address the challenges that face our
Thank you very much for the opportunity to appear before
you. And I'll be happy to respond to questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Kimball follows:]
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The Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Kimball.
STATEMENT OF MARY L. KENDALL, TO BE INSPECTOR GENERAL AT THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Ms. Kendall. Thank you, Madam Chairman, Ranking Member
Cantwell and members of the Committee. I'm honored to be
considered by you for confirmation as the Inspector General for
the Department of the Interior.
I have been privileged to lead the OIG for the past six and
a half years during which time the OIG has had 195 convictions,
$4.5 billion in criminal fines, penalties and restitution, over
$119 million in questioned costs and $55 million in funds put
to better use. On average over the past five years the OIG for
Interior ranked fifth for return on investment among the 72
My leadership style underpinned by employing dignity and
respect has proven effective in motivating the OIG work force
to conduct meaningful work, reduce influential reports and
affect significant change in the programs and operations of
Interior and which put the OIG in the top 15 percent of the
best places to work in 2014.
Recently I met with many of you and/or your staff. We've
discussed many issues, some important to your constituents,
some of which you embrace with enormous passion and some that
have made my nomination subject to controversy and criticism.
I've tried to address the controversies that have followed me
from the House Committee on Natural Resources. Whether I have
done so to any of your satisfaction, I do not know, what I do
know is that I have been true to myself, my principles, my best
judgment and the law.
My personal style to engage in civil discourse, even when
addressing difficult issues, has been criticized by some as
being too accommodating. Civility, in my experience, however,
is not an accommodation but rather a strong and effective tool
in communicating with and holding DOI accountable.
Coming to this hearing I have both the benefit and the
burden of having a track record as the acting Inspector
General. And as such, I have made certain legal, policy and
management decisions that have not always been well received by
some Members of Congress, of my staff, of the public and even
officials of the Department. Although I sometimes joke, I am
rather serious when I say, if I am making everyone a little
unhappy, I'm probably doing my job.
As with many things in life, having the benefit of 20/20
hindsight, I may have made some of those decisions differently.
Yet in the moment I have always acted on my conscience and
principle, guided by the best information available at the time
with the advice of trusted and tested advisors and with
integrity, independence and objectivity as my guides. I have
always conducted myself in the best interest of the OIG and of
the greater IG community both of which have provided me
unflagging support throughout my entire ten years in the IG
I do not expect to convince you by my words here alone
today of my independence and objectivity, rather I point to
some of the most influential work the OIG has done since 2009
which I describe in my much more detail in my written
testimony. The depth and breadth of the programs in DOI are
both vast and complex. Under my leadership the OIG has focused
its attention and resources on the highest risk and highest
priority issues in the Department and to address the areas of
greatest vulnerability to fraud, mismanagement and misuse of
Madam Chairman and members of this Committee, I sit before
you today as a career civil servant for over 29 years. I
sincerely believe that public service is a public trust
requiring me to place loyalty to the Constitution, the law and
ethical principles above private gain. I have no other ambition
than to continue my public service with dignity and respect for
our employees and for our stakeholders. I believe in the
mission of the Inspectors General. I am committed to the OIG
for Interior and if confirmed, I will continue to do the very
best job I can to lead this respected organization in its
ongoing efforts to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse and
mismanagement in the Department of the Interior.
Thank you for your attention and consideration. I'd be glad
to answer questions.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Kendall follows:]
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The Chairman. Thank you, Ms. Kendall.
STATEMENT OF VICTORIA MARIE BAECHER WASSMER, TO BE UNDER
SECRETARY OF ENERGY
Ms. Wassmer. Good morning, Chairman Murkowski, Ranking
Member Cantwell and other members of the Committee. It's my
honor to appear before you today as President Obama's nominee
for the Department of Energy's Under Secretary for Management
If confirmed I will work every day to support Secretary
Moniz and to advance the Department's critical efforts to
ensure America's security and prosperity by addressing its
energy, environmental and nuclear legacy issues through strong
performance and management practices.
Before I begin I'd like to thank my husband, Franklin, and
my two sons, Alexander and Christophe, two of whom are here
with me today, along with my mother, Viola Becker. I would not
be here without their encouragement and support. My two sons,
now both in high school, routinely challenge me to grow in ways
I never could have imagined, and they also make sure I laugh.
My husband, Franklin, who has worked for the last 20 years in
the local public charter school movement, grounds me every day
to not only do meaningful work, but to live a meaningful life.
Our commitment to community and public engagement,
instilled in us by our parents, has been the cornerstone of our
own family. Commitment to public engagement is what propelled
me to spend the majority of my 25-year career in public
service, including 17 years in management and leadership
positions within the Federal Government. Most notably, I
currently serve as the Assistant Administrator for Finance and
Management at the Federal Aviation Administration. Previously I
served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for
Administration and Finance at the Millennium Challenge
At the MCC I was responsible for realigning corporate
services to better support the agency's mission. Within my
first six months I instituted an annual customer satisfaction
survey as well as a new performance management system to
increase employee engagement. We saw a double digit improvement
in 2011 from our 2010 customer survey results as well as a
double digit improvement in my team's FedView survey results
over that same period. I reconstituted an executive oversight
board, tightened our internal controls and improved management
practices, all of which helped to optimize budget resources to
better support the mission of the MCC which is to reduce
poverty through economic growth.
In August 2011 I became the FAA's first ever Assistant
Administrator for Finance and Management overseeing the
transition of the agency's finance, acquisitions, information
technology and regions and center operations into an integrated
shared services model.
Today I am responsible for the efficient and effective
performance of these critical services and support of the
agency's aviation safety mission. I also manage the FAA's $16
billion budget and lead the agency's efforts to identify cost
savings, leverage technology and ensure critical acquisitions
remain on cost and schedule.
Over the last four years my team and I employed strategic
planning, performance and program oversight to help the agency
save more than $360 million through our cost control program.
This included nearly $130 million in savings through our
strategic sourcing program. We also reduced the agency's
administrative footprint and exceeded our environmental goals
in fleet and petroleum usage.
In addition to receiving clean audit opinions each year
during my tenure, we have led the agency in achieving the CEAR
awards for the FAA's annual performance and accountability
We have also implemented an enterprise-wide, integrated IT
strategy, decreased IT contract costs by more than $30 million,
deployed a new cloud-based email system, implemented a cloud
strategy utilizing an innovative brokerage model contract and
consolidated our IT help desks from seven to one. We did this
all while addressing increased cyber attacks.
I believe my experience and formal education have prepared
me well to take on this new role at the Department of Energy. I
have a deep understanding of what it takes to be an effective
leader in a government agency, to be a responsible steward of
the taxpayer's resources and to create and transform an
organization to be high performing.
I believe in working collaboratively and accountably as a
team creating an environment that brings out the best in
everyone as we work together to take programs to new levels.
Growing up my parents instilled in me the belief that
public service is a noble calling and it's an honor to be able
to serve others. If confirmed as the Under Secretary I will
work every day to be worthy of the privilege.
Thank you and I welcome any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Wassmer follows:]
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The Chairman. Thank you, Ms. Wassmer.
Dr. Murray, welcome.
STATEMENT OF DR. CHERRY ANN MURRAY, TO BE DIRECTOR OF THE
OFFICE OF SCIENCE AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Dr. Murray. Chairwoman Murkowski, Ranking Member Cantwell
and members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to
appear before you today as you consider my nomination for the
position of Director of the Office of Science at the Department
of Energy. It's an honor to be here and to be nominated by
President Obama and supported by Secretary Moniz.
The DOE Office of Science manages ten national
laboratories, many major scientific user facilities and it's
the largest supporter of physical sciences research in the U.S.
If confirmed I look forward to working with this Committee to
maintain the nation's leadership in science.
I was born in Fort Riley, Kansas. My father was in Officer
Training. He was also in civil service all his life. He spent
his career as a diplomat and alternately in the Army. Until I
was 17 I moved with my family almost yearly. We lived in Japan,
Pakistan, South Korea and Indonesia. My parents were both
artists, and I assumed I'd also be an artist. I'd spent the
first two years of high school in Alexandria, Virginia. In
ninth grade I had an inspiring chemistry teacher. I was
enthralled by doing lab experiments and by the beauty of math
that explained the science. For me, it was like creating order
from chaos. I was hooked and I decided right then to be a
scientist and to keep art as a hobby.
I attended MIT where I received my Bachelor's degree and
Doctorate in Physics. I then spent 27 years at Bell Labs
Research which was, at the time, one of the top places to do
research in the world. At Bell Labs we focused on everything
from basic science to applied engineering and product
development and I rose to Senior Vice President managing
research and development, inventing and innovating the future
of telecommunications. During those years I experienced
directly how breakthroughs in fundamental science lead to the
most disruptive technologies in the market. I also learned that
the transition from basic science to technology development and
ultimately to new products is never easy and it is not a linear
process. It is more of a spiral.
In 2004, I became Deputy Director for Science and
Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and
experienced how important science is as an underpinning of our
national security. In 2009, I became Dean of the School of
Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard.
Having interacted with spectacular undergraduate and
graduate students who eagerly want to solve problems that make
a difference in the world, I am optimistic about our nation's
continued science leadership.
I was a member of over 20 national academy study committees
including the Committee that wrote the Rising about the
Gathering Storm report. I also served on the Presidential
Commission on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and I now serve
on the Congressional Commission to review the effectiveness of
the national energy laboratories.
As in all technology advances the major technology
revolution that is happening right now in our energy system
will be catalyzed by advances in science. In the past, as a
nation, we could rely on the great industrial research labs.
They could provide leading edge science relevant to technology
and did, but industry is no longer doing as much fundamental
science now. We must harness the enormous potential of the DOE
national laboratories, working with our great research
universities in collaboration with industry.
I look forward, should I be confirmed, to leading the DOE
Office of Science and the national laboratories it stewards and
to be working with this Committee to ensure that the U.S.
continues to be a leader in scientific advances and the
translation of these advances into new technologies, important
for our sustainable energy security, national security and
Thank you. I'd be happy to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Murray follows:]
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The Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Murray.
STATEMENT OF JOHN FRANCIS KOTEK, TO BE AN ASSISTANT SECRETARY
OF ENERGY (NUCLEAR ENERGY)
Mr. Kotek. Chairman Murkowski, Ranking Member Cantwell,
members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to
appear today as you consider my nomination to be the Assistant
Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Energy at the U.S. Department
I'm honored to have been nominated for this post by
President Obama. I also deeply appreciate the confidence that
Secretary Moniz has expressed by asking me to serve in this
capacity. And I'm grateful for the statement of support for my
nomination provided by Senator Risch and the Idaho
I'd like to start by thanking from the bottom of my heart,
my wife, Denise. She's been extraordinarily supportive of me
throughout our 21 years of marriage, and she understands
completely the challenge we've been asked to undertake, having
herself worked at DOE back in the 1990's.
Now earlier this year I was appointed as Principle Deputy
Assistant Secretary in DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy. This is
actually my third stint as a DOE employee having started my
career at DOE Headquarters in 1989 then rejoining DOE as Deputy
Manager of the Idaho Operations Office from 2003 to 2006.
Between my first two jobs at DOE I was on the staff at Argonne
National Laboratory at the old Argonne West facility in Idaho
which is now part of the Idaho National Lab.
While I was born in Hawaii and raised in Massachusetts,
I've called Idaho home since 1999. And I should note that
during my time with Argonne in 2002 I served as the American
Nuclear Society's Congressional Fellow working in the Office of
Senator Jeff Bingaman when he chaired this very Committee.
After leaving DOE in 2006 I went into the private sector
advising clients on a wide range of energy and natural resource
issues with the particular focus on the siting of controversial
facilities. I believe that my facility siting experience
coupled with my nuclear background served me well in my role as
Staff Director for the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's
Nuclear Future, a position I served in from 2010 to 2012.
My time as Staff Director was truly one of the highlights
of my career and not just because it gave me an opportunity to
work for people like Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton and Brent
Scowcroft, Senators Pete Domenici and Chuck Hagel, and of
course, Dr. Ernest Moniz. The main reason my service was such a
highlight was that it gave me an opportunity to help a
bipartisan panel, made up of some of the best minds in the
country, dig deep into a controversial issue and develop a set
of recommendations that were unanimously adopted and widely
accepted by individuals and organizations on all sides of the
nuclear waste issue. I know that the Commissioners have been
heartened by the work this Committee has done to incorporate
the BRC recommendations into proposed legislation, and I'm
eager to work with you and others to see the nation's nuclear
waste management program advance and set a solid foundation for
the program going forward.
Looking at the mandate of the nuclear energy organization
more broadly, I've long believed that nuclear energy can and
should play an important role in meeting our twin objectives of
meeting rising global energy demands while addressing the
threat posed by emissions of carbon and other greenhouse gases.
To be sure, nuclear energy isn't the only way of tackling this
challenge and I believe the President's All of the Above energy
strategy gives us the best chance of meeting carbon reduction
goals both at home and abroad.
In the nine months since I returned to DOE I've seen great
opportunity for DOE to work with industry, universities, our
national labs and with international partners, to ensure
nuclear energy technologies can continue to meet current energy
demands while providing opportunities for new nuclear energy
supply in the intermediate and long terms. I'm particularly
excited about the opportunities for technologies like small
modular reactors and even more novel reactor technologies to
provide safe, affordable, low carbon electricity and other
energy products, potentially including processed heat, hydrogen
production and desalination services.
If I'm fortunate enough to be approved by this Committee
and confirmed by the Senate, these are the kinds of areas that
will be my focus.
I also look forward to working with this Committee to
identify additional opportunities to advance nuclear energy as
part of our low carbon energy future. I hope to secure your
support so that I might have that opportunity.
Thank you, and I welcome any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kotek follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
The Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Kotek.
Thank you, each of you, for your comments this morning, and
again, your willingness to serve and your willingness to go
through the gauntlet of questions that we will have for you
Just for the information of members, my intention is to
continue the committee process throughout this vote. I would
ask that when the vote is called if you just leave and vote and
then come back. After Senator Cantwell and I have asked our
questions the first up on the Republican side is Senator
Cassidy and he will be followed by Senator Franken--just so you
know when to pop in and out.
At this time I will proceed with the first round of five
minute questions and direct my first one to you, Ms. Sarri.
You have indicated that you have now been the Principal
Deputy there at PMB for about a year or so, and that in this
role there is a department-wide review coordinating across
agencies which, of course, is necessary in this area. I
mentioned in my opening remarks, and I think you might hear the
frustration in the words, I am a little bit under the weather
this morning, otherwise you would have heard a little more
animation in my voice as well. So maybe you have been saved by
a long airplane flight and a little bit of the flu.
But there is a great deal of frustration in my state right
now, not the least of which is coming from the Shell
announcement that while they did not see what they were hoping,
it was also complicated by the fact that seven years and $7
billion leads them to turn away from a prospect that was not
only important to Shell, but very, very important to the State
of Alaska. Then on Friday to learn from the Secretary, by voice
mail, before a public announcement that the lease extensions
were not going to be renewed, not going to be considered, as
well as cancellation of the offshore leases for '16 and '17, an
incredible blow and a hit to the State of Alaska in regards to
our opportunities to explore anything offshore.
This is at a time when again the Secretary and the
President know full well that we have got a pipeline that is
less than half full and we are looking as a state to be able to
move in some of these areas--and we have been hindered at all
The question that I have for you this morning is what was
your role in these decisions as they relate to offshore Arctic?
What was your role as Principle Deputy at PMB in these
Ms. Sarri. Senator, thank you for your questions. I have
the same cold as you do, so I hope you feel better.
Let me just first start by saying really quickly that
Alaska is incredibly important, obviously, to energy production
in this country. And the safe and responsible development in
the Arctic is an important part of that picture.
The Chairman. But we are not seeing it coming out of the
Ms. Sarri. I was not involved in either of the decisions
announced on Friday. My role at PMB is really on those cross-
cutting policy initiatives. I mentioned a couple just invasive
species and youth issues, energy issues that firmly lie with
BOEM and BSEE.
The Chairman. So you had no involvement in terms of the
decisions either as it related to the lease extensions or the
cancellation of the '16 and '17 offshore leases?
Ms. Sarri. No, Senator, I did not.
The Chairman. The drilling regulations that are coming up
are, again, something that we are very, very keenly looking at.
BOEM and BSEE are in the process of developing these regs now
to address offshore drilling safety in the Arctic. The concern
that many have is that what Interior will lay down will be regs
that are so burdensome and so excessive in terms of the
regulatory controls that effectively pushes even further off
the opportunity for activity in the Arctic.
In this position you are being nominated for, how would you
work to bring greater certainty because that is what we are
looking for here is certainty to the Federal regulatory
environment in the Arctic?
Ms. Sarri. So, Senator, again, that's something that BOEM
and BSEE work closely on when they're doing regulatory
development. And the important role I think I play in that
effort is to make sure that those two Bureaus have sufficient
staffing to meet their regulatory mission and to carry out
regulations working with industry.
The Chairman. So when you say that, I mean, your title is
Policy, Management and Budget. So you are suggesting to me that
on the policy side of it the only thing that you do is make
sure you have sufficient staffing available for that?
Ms. Sarri. On this particular issue that you were raising
where my nexus is really working on the budget side of the
equation and not so much on the regulatory development.
When it comes to the policy issues at PMB, it is really on
those that have cross-cutting nexuses with all the different
Bureaus where you want to have that cohesion and coordination.
As I was mentioning one of the big areas that we play in is
invasive species which have an impact across public lands and
in communities or wildland fire development.
So when it's very mission specific to a bureau we, the
bureau, are responsible for that effort. But with that case
coming out, I think one of the important things I need to do is
have a responsible role in terms of making sure we're budgeting
responsibly for that and also where it's appropriate for me to
The Chairman. I will have some further questions here.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Like you, I have many questions for our nominees but only
five minutes, so I am just going to throw it out there and see
if we can get a lot of feedback.
Mr. Kotek, I wanted to ask you about the recommendations to
separate defense and commercial waste--whether you will come up
with a plan to move forward on that, whether that plan would
include impacted communities, and what technical issues do you
think need to be addressed so that we can get there?
I am so glad that Dr. Cherry and Ms. Wassmer are sitting
next to each other because when it comes to cleaning up
Hanford, you represent both ends of this puzzle.
Dr. Cherry, I want to know if you agree--the National Lab
Commission that you served on said that science should play a
larger role in helping us with some of our major nuclear waste
sites and the remaining issues. Some of the waste, we still do
not even have solutions for on the science side.
Ms. Wassmer, how do you plan to complete in a timely
fashion both getting the Vitrification plant done and the Waste
Treatment plant done? So both of the waste treatment
facilities, obviously, have had many challenges. How do we
Lastly, Dr. Kimball, I do not know if you read the New
Yorker article about the Cascadia Fault and the challenges of
what is an analysis of a 300-year event that could hit the
Pacific Northwest, but my colleague, Senator Murkowski, and I
have introduced legislation on better monitoring. What do you
think we need to do to actually get that better monitoring in
So, as quickly as you can go.
Mr. Kotek. Certainly, I'll start.
Thank you for the question, Senator. What you've touched
on, of course, is the Administration's commitment to a consent
based siting process to develop new facilities for the storage
and ultimately for the disposal of nuclear waste. The
Administration is committed to a consent-based siting process
that involves working with states, tribes, local governments,
in a way that leads to signing agreements with what we'd call,
a willing and informed host, community for those facilities.
As we learned through the Blue Ribbon Commission process,
communities, states, tribes are going to need to answer two
fundamental questions when it comes to their willingness to
host such facilities. One is can we do this in a way that's
fully protective of people and the environment? And then second
is can our community, state, tribe, feel like they're better
off for having taken on this challenge until it becomes
incumbent upon us to provide information, technical resources,
other assets to them as they work through answering those types
Senator Cantwell. So will you come up with an actionable
plan on separating defense and civilian waste? That is what I
Mr. Kotek. Oh, I'm sorry.
When it comes to the defense waste, yes. We have, the
President acted on a recommendation from the Secretary to, in
fact, pursue a separate repository for defense waste. That
announcement was made back in March, and we're now in the
process of developing plans for that.
Senator Cantwell. Great.
Mr. Kotek. So yes, and thank you. I'll look forward to
working with you on that, if I'm confirmed.
Senator Cantwell. Okay, great.
Dr. Murray. Thank you for the question, Senator.
Of course, science really is the underpinning of pretty
much every technology, and one of the things that the
Commission noted is that with the enormous amount of resources
that we're spending on environmental cleanup more science is
So already we've had scientific consensus, workshops and
meetings of scientists and environmental managers to try to
figure out what are the scientific breakthroughs that we can
do. And you will see more on this. I'll be very glad to work
Senator Cantwell. Thank you.
Ms. Wassmer. Thank you, Senator, for the question related
to WTP and the importance of that for the Hanford site.
I've had high level briefings from the Department of
Energy. And if confirmed, I would be getting more to speed up
with the details. But I do understand the phased approach that
the Department is recommending in terms of that facility and do
believe that it's very important to ensure that we can both
treat, store and then ultimately safely dispose of waste.
Senator Cantwell. Well, I will look for it. I know you have
done good work at the FAA, but part of the issue at Hanford has
been somebody proposes some great idea, a new secretary comes
along and then they realize later that doesn't work. And then
we've spent billions of dollars, and we have to go back.
I just hope that we will move forward on a path of
certainty here--we have leaky tanks, and we need to get them
Dr. Kimball, getting our monitoring system?
Dr. Kimball. Right. Our priorities are absolutely to
provide the kinds of information that are necessary to protect
public health and safety, and early warning systems are very
important. And that requires monitoring.
We very much appreciate the attention that this Committee
has provided and you and Chairman Murkowski in introducing the
legislation that would establish the National Volcano Early
Warning System. We feel that that's an important step forward
and the attention, the national level attention, that this
legislation brings to the issue, we feel is very important.
I look forward, if confirmed, to working closely with you
to ensure that we do have those kinds of systems in place.
Senator Cantwell [presiding]: Thank you.
Senator Cassidy. Ms. Sarri, I think you mentioned your
mother is a Michigan football fan just to get the sympathy
vote. Did you know, that is just, kind of, my bias? [Laughter.]
Ms. Sarri. Did it work? [Laughter.]
Senator Cassidy. Not from the Michigan State people, you
know, they are---- [Laughter.]
First I would like unanimous consent to introduce a letter
on behalf of my Louisiana colleague, Senator Vitter, regarding
Ms. Kendall's nomination.
[The information referred to follows:]
[GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]
Senator Cassidy. Ms. Kendall, you came by my office. We had
a nice visit. Thank you.
Some of the questions will be followup to that or even the
same, but it is more for the public record as opposed to our
To set the stage for others when the Macando oil spill
occurred there was a report issued by the Department of the
Interior suggesting that eight safety experts felt as if the
moratorium instituted by the Department was appropriate. As it
turns out those eight experts did not agree with it and said
that it would not measurably reduce risk and would have a
lasting impact upon the nation's economy that my state still
suffers from that decision to go forward with the moratorium
despite the experts saying not to. And there was an
investigation that ensued. So with that stage set, I will
As you know and as we spoke in the office, there was an
issue that you were to investigate who altered the report and
yet simultaneously were being involved--took membership on the
Safety Oversight Board of the OCS. There was a tension there.
On the one hand you were to investigate something of which you
were a part of. So would you please address that?
Ms. Kendall. I will, Senator, thank you.
The details are, sort of, in the weeds, but the distinction
is the Safety Oversight Board was charged with putting together
long-term solutions or recommendations for safety and oversight
in the Outer Continental Shelf. The report that we were being
asked to review, the IG was asked to review, was something
called the 30 day report. And it was a short-term report
requested of the Secretary by the President to make immediate
recommendations to solve some of the immediate problems that
were being faced in the Gulf because of the Deep Water Horizon
disaster. And so the Safety Oversight Board did not have a role
in that 30-day report.
Senator Cassidy. Can I ask? Was there anyone on the Safety
Oversight Board who could have potentially, knowing that you
could not know then what you know now, who could have
potentially been involved with the alteration of the original
report in the sense where you are rubbing shoulders, breaking
bread, with those whom you might otherwise have to hold
accountable for having altered a report?
Ms. Kendall. I don't believe so. And it was not----
Senator Cassidy. Could you have known that when you joined
the Safety Oversight Board? It does not seem as if it is
conceivable that you could have known.
Ms. Kendall. Undoubtedly, I couldn't have.
Senator Cassidy. So just intuitively if you are rubbing
elbows and breaking bread and coming together on a mutually
agreeable basis we have got to figure this out. At the same
time you may potentially be holding someone accountable for
something which truly was wrongdoing. It seems as if you have
set yourself up for a conflict of interest.
Ms. Kendall. I understand how that perception could be or
that conclusion could be drawn. In fact, however, the Safety
Oversight Board was not involved in that 30-day report.
Senator Cassidy. I accept that. But, as we spoke earlier,
it would have been hard to know then that there were not people
on one board who may have been responsible for a wrongdoing
Ms. Kendall. Except there were only three people on the
Safety Oversight Board, and I knew who was involved in the 30-
Senator Cassidy. I accept that.
Now I have an email from an Assistant Secretary in which it
seems as if some of the Inspector General's staff were
uncomfortable with your involvement with the Board. So I will
not quote at length, although I could, but just suffice it to
say it does seem as if within the organization it was perceived
as a conflict of interest by some.
Let me ask as well, and we have spoken about this before
but again for the public record, the House has previously or I
guess maybe, the Senate, but I am more familiar with the House,
has requested information of your staff as regards to this
whole episode and the Inspector General's staff did not submit
Now in our conversation you said, well, never before have
Inspector Generals been offered this and it was really up to
the House to go to the Department to provide the information.
But at some point if there is a set of circumstances in
which you would serve on an Oversight Board, because we really
have to make things work here and this is a bending of the
rules or a potential conflict of interest that maybe could be
overlooked in order for the greater good, if Congress is going
after a record and Interior will not give it to them, it almost
seems like the Office of Inspector General not giving it as
well serves the interest of the Department. And we are
frustrated because we cannot exercise oversight because both
are playing rope-a-dope. What are your thoughts about that?
Ms. Kendall. Well Senator, in this case we're talking about
documents that Executive Privilege came into play.
Senator Cassidy. As I gather though, that was something
that you invoked that the Administration did not invoke prior
Ms. Kendall. No, we did not invoke it. The OIG did not
Senator Cassidy. Okay.
Ms. Kendall. The Department led up to invoking it. Only the
President can invoke Executive Privilege, and what we were
doing was trying to get the House Committee and the Department
to talk and resolve that issue as opposed to asking the OIG to
Senator Cassidy. Then I will go back to my point. If the
Department decides to rope-a-dope and not give information to
Congress, we have no place else to go but the OIG.
Theoretically your loyalty is to both, to the Department and to
Congress. In that case it served the purpose of the Department
but not for the purpose of transparency.
Thank you again. I yield back.
The Chairman [presiding]: Thank you, Senator Cassidy.
Senator Franken. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Kendall, welcome. It is always a pleasure having a
Minnesotan in front of the Committee.
In your testimony you underlined that some may mistake your
civil dealings with the Department of the Interior as being too
accommodating. I appreciate that you bring some Minnesota nice
to the Federal Government.
However, could you tell me about how you view the role of
the Office of the Inspector General as an independent entity?
Ms. Kendall. Yes, sir. Thank you, Senator.
The OIG plays an important role in terms of holding the
Department accountable. We do that through audits and
investigations primarily, and our findings come through and
then we follow up with recommendations.
I think that the responsibility of the OIG is to call
things as it sees them through its audits and investigations
and make meaningful recommendations that will help the
Department improve its operations and resolve problems.
Now those are not always happy discussions, but I think
they can always be civil. And that has been part of my role is
to engage in difficult discussions with the Department usually
about difficult problems that are not easily solvable but to do
it in a productive and a polite manner.
Senator Franken. Thank you.
I know that Senator Cassidy was asking about some of the
controversies around the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. In 2008
Congress established an Integrity Committee to investigate
allegations of wrong doing that were made against Inspectors
General. The Integrity Committee includes a Senior FBI official
who serves as the Chairman, the Director of the Office of
Government Ethics, the Special Council and Foreign Inspectors
You mentioned in your testimony certain controversies which
Senator Cassidy mentioned involving your office's handling of
matters related to the moratorium, the drilling moratorium,
which was exhaustively investigated by the House Natural
It is my understanding that the three Gulf State senators
asked the Integrity Committee to investigate allegations of
misconduct involving your handling of this matter as well. I
understand that the Integrity Committee appointed an Inspector
General from another Department who conducted an independent
investigation but could find no evidence to support any of the
allegations. The Integrity Committee reviewed the Inspector
General's report and adopted its findings and conclusions as
its own two years ago, and the matter is now closed. Is that a
fair summary of the Integrity Committee's investigation and
Ms. Kendall. I think it is a fair summary, sir, but we also
provided that information to the Committee in written form so
the Committee has that.
Senator Franken. Thank you.
I would like to move on to Dr. Kimball.
Next month the Administration will fly to Paris for
historic negotiations on an International Treaty to curb
greenhouse gases. While the state of science is sufficiently
matured to act, climate change research is ongoing and remains
a priority both for me and for the U.S. Geological Survey.
Dr. Kimball, can you describe how you envision the role of
climate change research within the USGS as well as some of the
current areas of exploration?
Dr. Kimball. Yes, Senator, thank you very much for that
Senator Franken. Bad microphone.
Dr. Kimball. Thank you.
The USGS has been studying climate effects for several
decades, nearly all of our 136 year history. And we are in a
unique position because we can examine the geologic record and
look for those changes that are associated with natural
processes verses changes that are exacerbated by other
So we do intend to continue. We have a missionary dedicated
to climate and land use change in which we brought together the
work that we've been doing across the bureau to eliminate
internal duplication of effort and to ensure efficiencies.
We plan to be working on downscaled models to look at the
impacts of climate variability associated with things like
drought, reduced snowpack and snow melt, coastal changes,
changes associated with different storm regimes, both in terms
of tropical storm intensity and tropical storm patterns and to
look at how those impact and are connected with decisions about
land use change and carbon sequestration and carbon storage to
identify climate resilience activities that can be taken at
local and community levels to mitigate these impacts.
Senator Franken. Thank you. I am out of time, but Madam
Chair, since it is just you and me, can I ask one more
The Chairman. Okay. [Laughter.]
Senator Franken. Thanks.
This is for Dr. Murray. I am pleased that the bipartisan
energy bill that we passed out of Committee in July includes
additional funding for energy storage research and development.
As our grid continues to evolve I believe that new energy
storage technologies will be essential for providing enhanced
grid stability and enabling variable renewable energy sources
to meet continuous electricity demand. I also believe that the
Department of Energy has an important role to play in this
Dr. Murray, what role do you see for the Office of Science
in developing transformative energy storage technologies
including through ongoing activities at the Joint Center for
Energy Storage Research?
Dr. Murray. Thank you, Senator, for the question.
Of course, science has a lot to do with energy storage. For
the first, materials are essential.
The study of catalysis, the study of chemical reactions,
the study of new possibilities for materials in the modeling
using high performance computing, all of which is going on at
JCESR, the Joint Center for Energy Storage and Research which,
is an Office of Science hub, is looking at the generation
beyond lithium ion batteries. What that has accomplished so
far, just in its first three years, has gotten the industry,
who have been working on storage, as you know, for hundreds of
years, to accelerate their technology.
So the lithium ion industry is decreasing the cost of
lithium ion batteries just because we have this storage hub.
They're creating a data base of different types of electrolytes
and different types of materials that could be used. You can
up, if you can make it work, you can up the storage capacity of
a battery by using magnesium which has two charges instead of
lithium which has one. And so they're going in that direction.
So this is beyond. It's collaborating with industry but
it's beyond what industry would feel comfortable doing because
they have no idea of whether it's going to end up anywhere near
a product. But that's where, I think, the Office of Science
fits. It's between the universities who cannot easily do these
big projects which go from science all the way to prototype and
industry which looks at the prototypes and says, you know
that's a good idea. I think I can actually make that cheaper
and I can make a product out of it.
So it's this joint--this hub is working extremely well, and
I invite you to visit it.
Senator Franken. I would love to do that. Where is it?
Dr. Murray. It's located at Argonne National Lab.
Senator Franken. Okay.
Dr. Murray. Near Chicago.
Senator Franken. Okay.
Well, thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair, for indulging me.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Franken.
Senator Portman, you are up.
Senator Portman. Thank you, Madam Chair, I appreciate it.
I was here earlier and had the opportunity to hear some of
the testimony and some of the questions, and I appreciate all
of you being willing to step up and serve. Many of you have
served before or in other capacities.
My questions are to the Department of Energy, to our
friends who are here interested in getting confirmed for
important positions that are going to affect the livelihood of
a lot of people in my state, including at the Piketon Nuclear
Enrichment, Uranium Enrichment Plant, in Pike County, Ohio. We
have had a tough time there.
As some of you know this is the site where we uniquely
enrich U.S. uranium. It is important for our nuclear arsenal.
As Mr. Kotek said earlier, it is important for our nuclear
energy industry. It is also critical because it provides
tritium which is required for the arsenal and our nuclear navy,
So we have recently had 500 employees at the site who
received warn notices. This is for the cleanup of the old
technology. This is very frustrating for me because for years
and years we have received commitments from the Administration,
this Administration and others, to clean up the site. And
frankly, the commitment has not been honored.
So my questions are going to relate in part to that
cleanup. Ms. Wassmer, you are interested in being Under
Secretary of Energy, so you are going to have a lot of
responsibility for the cleanup side of things.
President Obama said in 2008, the failure to clean up this
site quickly will one, delay future economic development
opportunities. Very true. I was out there a few weeks ago, and
again, they cannot move forward with the economic development
of that area, one of the poorest areas of Ohio, unless they get
this cleanup done. Of course, they need to remove the
radioactive and other waste that is there.
Second, according to the President, will only add
additional mortgage costs. Wow, with the commitments that have
not been made, the taxpayer gets stuck with the bill, about $4
billion more over time to the taxpayer already with the
slowdown in the cleanup that we have seen in this
Third, he said, will pose undue environmental risks. Well,
yes, part of the reason you cleanup these sites is to ensure
that the communities are safer. We are really frustrated
because again and again the Administration has made commitments
and not kept them.
In 2009, DOE made a secretarial commitment to the community
to accelerate the cleanup and complete the work by 2024, and if
you are interested in having that in writing I am happy to
provide it to you because Secretary Moniz wondered about that.
It is true, and we have talked about it many times.
The press release at the time said accelerating the cleanup
was an effort to jump start the local economy and create jobs.
Now we are being told in that community that it is going to be
2044 at the earliest. Again, 500 people are having their jobs
So I have a few questions for you, Ms. Wassmer, as you take
on this job. Thanks to some language that my colleague, Senator
Alexander, got into the Appropriations bill when the House side
did in the CR, we were able to keep employment levels at their
current level. In other words, not have these warn notices be
implemented. Again, Congress seems to have to step in every
year and provide this last minute help. That is not the way to
run a railroad. It is certainly not the way to run people's
So very quickly if you could just give me a yes or no on
this, the Secretary committed to me a couple of weeks ago that
he would advocate for additional funding for the cleanup and
the long-term spending package. Would you support the
Secretary's efforts to secure this additional funding in the
Piketon cleanup so that after December 11th, for the longer-
term package, that the people at that plant know they are going
to have a job?
Yes or no?
Ms. Wassmer. Thank you, Senator, for your question. I do
understand the importance of Portsmouth in relation to our
national defense, and I do also understand during the CR period
that the Department has committed to ensure that there are no
involuntary left layoffs.
Senator Portman. I have limited time, so I need a yes or a
no on the long-term cleanup.
Ms. Wassmer. Sir, absolutely, we will have the----
Senator Portman. For the long time CR, yes or no.
Ms. Wassmer. I am committed to ensuring if I am confirmed
that we would have long-term cleanup at the Portsmouth site.
Senator Portman. And that for the long-term CR, in other
words, after December 11th, that you would support the funding
in there to keep these people from losing their jobs.
Ms. Wassmer. Sir, I----
Senator Portman. This is what the Secretary told me that he
was going to advocate for.
Ms. Wassmer. Sir, if the Secretary has shared that with
you, if I am confirmed, I will support, absolutely, his
direction and guidance----
Senator Portman. Every year you guys put in your budget
inadequate funding for the cleanup. You were $80 million short
last time. My question for you is very simple. Are you going to
advocate this year to be sure the cleanup levels in the FY'17
budget request are adequate to keep the layoffs from happening
and to keep the cleanup on pace at least to the level it is at
now? Yes or no?
Ms. Wassmer. Sir, if I am confirmed I would be happy to
work with you on this issue.
Senator Portman. Okay.
I would say to that question, you would be happy to work
with me, when I supported Secretary Moniz in his confirmation.
He made that same commitment. When I supported the Deputy
Secretary, Sherwood Randall, I got that commitment. The
Assistant Secretary, Regalbuto, I got that commitment, the Head
of the Office of Environmental Management. All during their
confirmation hearings they made assurances they would work with
me. They said those same words, and they have not.
So we need to see that follow through. And you know,
frankly, I am not much in the mood to do other confirmations
until I get real commitments on this.
Mr. Kotek, you and I have talked about some of these issues
before. I am sure and I know you have a great background in the
nuclear area and I appreciate what you said about nuclear power
and its importance, but I would just ask you one simple
question about the new technology which is ACP technology. We
had 120 centrifuges that are spinning out there. Suddenly DOE
surprises us all, as you know, a few weeks ago and says we are
going to pull the plug on this after many indications the
opposite would be true, not providing us the report that was
due to Congress in April to defend that. We got that report the
night before the hearing when Secretary Moniz was here. Do you
believe that we do need to have a domestic source of enriched
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, Senator, for the question.
Of course, the availability of uranium to meet our nuclear
energy needs in the U.S. is very important to my organization
of the future of nuclear technology.
The specifics of the ACP project in the uranium enrichment
program in DOE actually falls into a different organization, so
I am not familiar with the specifics of the report you referred
to or other things. But I certainly would be pleased to work
with you, if confirmed, to ensure that we have got uranium
available to meet present and future needs here in the U.S.
Senator Portman. Your predecessor was very involved in
this, so I hope that you will be as well. And to the extent you
believe in nuclear power as you said earlier, I would certainly
hope you would believe that we ought to have a domestic source
of enriched uranium and not be dependent on the Russians and
others for our enriched uranium. Can you make that commitment
Mr. Kotek. Yes, sir. Thank you for the statement. I agree
that we need to ensure that we have got availability of
domestic enriched uranium going forward.
Senator Portman. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
The Chairman. Senator Heinrich is next on the list.
Senator Heinrich. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Wassmer, DOE's Office of Management and Performance is
responsible for the very important work of cleanup and disposal
of defense nuclear waste including work in New Mexico at Los
Alamos National Labs, obviously, and the Waste Isolation Pilot
Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad. WIPP, as you know, is the nation's
only deep geological repository for defense transuranic waste.
So first, I would just say that I would invite you to visit
WIPP once you are confirmed. I know that reopening that
facility remains a very high priority for Secretary Moniz;
however, I hope you agree that the safety of the workers and
the surrounding community has to be our top priority as that
process moves forward. DOE's recent internal assessment of
trends in safety showed continuing problems with senior
management's attention to the conduct of operation, maintenance
and safety culture. The review cited schedule pressure as an
underlying causal factor in that report.
How do you see your responsibilities in overseeing WIPP's
recovery as a site and how would you refocus efforts to restore
safe operations and a safety culture at that facility?
Ms. Wassmer. Thank you, Senator, for your question related
to the WIPP facility.
I have had background briefings and understand at a high
level both the unique role in being the first operating
repository there, but also the current stoppage in relation to
the incidents that you referred to and the importance in
ensuring safely the expeditious return of that facility.
And so, if I am confirmed, I can share with you I would get
up to speed with the details, would be very interested in
visiting the site and making sure that we have the safe return
of services at WIPP.
Senator Heinrich. I look forward to that.
I will say that we are all eager to see that facility
reopened, to see the staff there get back to work, but we need
to do it in a way that puts their workplace safety, at the
absolute top of the priority list.
Dr. Murray, I want to ask you a question.
The Commission to review the effectiveness of DOE's
national laboratories released its draft final report last
month, and one of the Commission's recommendations that I was
very heartened by is that all DOE programs and laboratories
fully embrace technology transition and that mission and
continue improving the speed and effectiveness of
collaborations with the private sector. I thought that was a
fantastic development. It is something a number of us have been
trying to move forward for some time.
I just wanted to ask you if you agree that technology
transfer is an important, central part of the overall mission
of the national laboratories and what do you think DOE can do
to address the challenges that small businesses have in finding
constructive and straight forward ways to engage with the labs
to commercialize those innovative technologies?
Dr. Murray. So thank you, Senator, for the question.
I am, myself, from my background at Bell Labs, very, very
interested in technology transfer. And if confirmed, I will
work with the Department to help a better technology transfer.
One of the things that I learned while I was at Bell Labs
is that the best technology transfer is with two feet. It's
really people. So one of the things I have been thinking about
that would help the national labs work better with small
businesses, startups in particular, is to have post docs at the
labs transition to the startups.
This works really well in universities. It's not really
practiced except by accident at the DOE national labs now, and
it gets around a lot of the difficulties in intellectual
property and in making the agreements with very small companies
and the national labs work well.
The other thing that I will point out that I was very
pleased to discover as a member of the Commission and having
been away from the national labs for a while was that several
of the national labs are starting what I will call a best
practice of providing an umbrella agreement for small business
in their vicinity. So small business can sign up, they can get
a voucher and make use of the lab with very little, three
month, negotiation of contracts which has to get better. I
absolutely am on it, if I be confirmed.
Senator Heinrich. I very much appreciate your reference to
the voucher approach. I think that is one of the best
practices. It is something that I have included in tech
I know Sandia National Laboratories does something similar
to what you were mentioning called entrepreneurial leave that
has been very effective.
We need to figure out those places around the country where
things are working and standardize them more across the
complex. I think one additional place that I would encourage
you to look is by simply looking at the concept of creating
sort of a front door that is outside the gate, literally, a
space with these labs where small business can engage directly
with the labs without going through all the steps that it takes
to go behind the gate for the first time.
Dr. Murray. Yes, thank you, Senator. I completely agree
that is a very good practice, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory
has done that.
Senator Heinrich. Thank you.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator.
Senator Flake. Thank you.
Ms. Sarri, as you know in 2013 we had a shutdown, a
government shutdown that affected a lot of states, particularly
the parks. Six states provided a combined $2 million to keep
some of the national parks open during that time.
When the Federal Government reopened the Park Service,
Department of the Interior was reimbursed then made whole, but
the states that provided the money have not seen that money
reimbursed. I believe that you have stated your opposition to
that reimbursement. Is that correct?
Ms. Sarri. Senator, I appreciate that you brought that up
when we had a courtesy meeting, and I wanted to make sure I
went back and fully understood the Administration's position.
And my understanding is if Congress enacts that legislation we
would want to work with this Committee and obviously with the
parks and the states to offer that reimbursement.
Senator Flake. So your position is different now?
Ms. Sarri. Yes, Senator, it is.
Senator Flake. Okay, that is good to know. That was passed
here on a bipartisan basis twice by voice vote, and the
legislation was sponsored on a bipartisan basis by Senator
Heinrich, myself and others, to make sure that the states were
reimbursed. I am glad to hear that.
Let me go for one issue. Just last week the Office of
Inspector General issued a report finding that the National
Park Service (NPS) was improperly using a construction account
to fund reimbursable activities performed under interagency
agreements. In its report the OIG said that NPS is using the
construction account to pay non-construction expenses and
treating its account as if it were a revolving fund. The report
further states that NPS disagrees, arguing that it has
authority to use the construction account as a ``convenient
method to fund reimbursable expenses.''
In your capacity as Principle Deputy Secretary, Assistant
Secretary for Policy and Management and Budget, did you provide
an analysis of the Park Service's use for its construction
account and do you believe that this is a proper use of funds?
Ms. Sarri. Senator, thank you very much for the question.
I'm actually not familiar about this particular issue. I
don't think we provided analysis at the departmental level, so
I would like to get back to you more on the record on that one.
Senator Flake. Okay.
Ms. Kendall, do you have anything to share on that? Is that
the issue that we discussed in my office or?
Ms. Kendall. Simply that we, quite vehemently, disagree
with the Park Service's position on that expenditure and hope
that we'll be able to resolve it either through the
appropriations folks, in this body and the House, or that they
will stop utilizing that fund for that purpose.
Senator Flake. Okay.
Ms. Sarri, will you commit to getting back to my office on
Ms. Sarri. Absolutely.
Senator Flake. Thank you, I appreciate that.
One other thing, Ms. Wassmer, we have heard from some in
Arizona about the cost containment concerns with WAPA. Can you
commit to work with us to address some of these concerns that
have been raised in terms of cost containment?
Ms. Wassmer. Thank you, Senator, for the question.
If confirmed, I commit to looking into the details related
to WAPA as you have referenced.
Senator Flake. Okay, thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chairman. Senator Manchin?
Senator Manchin. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Dr. Kimball, in March 2011 I submitted a letter along with
Senators Barrasso and Paul to then Chairman Bingaman and then
Ranking Member Murkowski of this Committee seeking an oversight
hearing concerning the Office of Surface Mining's proposed
stream protection or the stream buffer rule. There was evidence
that the DOI management in 2010 tried to discard a contractor's
economic analysis of this rule that suggested up to 29,000 coal
jobs could be lost nationwide as a result of these proposed
regulations. The Department of the Interior management also
threatened to fire the contractor.
Our letter to the Committee stated independent, scientific
analysis of proposed regulations must remain objective and free
from political pressure.
Five years later the nation's coal industry continues to
struggle. We have lost that many jobs, if not more, the serious
economic consequences that would be associated with the latest
version of this rule. I have also seen general reports that
your office has been under immense pressure from this
Administration to provide more favorable numbers and ignore the
conduct that occurred in 2010.
Can you comment on these claims? Do you have knowledge of
Ms. Kendall. I do, generally, I have knowledge of what we
investigated that was relative to the political allegation of
Senator Manchin. They seem to be very upset about the
contractor that you all threatened to fire because they put out
Ms. Kendall. My recollection and I would ask if I could get
back to you.
Senator Manchin. Sure.
Ms. Kendall. With more details.
Senator Manchin. I would like that.
Ms. Kendall. Our investigation determined that the
contractor was not improperly terminated, that the appearance
Senator Manchin. Let me followup with one okay?
Ms. Kendall. Sure.
Senator Manchin. Because you can get back to me on the
accuracy of that.
Ms. Kendall. Okay.
Senator Manchin. Whether he was fired or not and what but
can you comment on the pressures from this Administration has
been exerted regarding the thousands of projected job losses?
Ms. Kendall. I had no involvement in that, sir.
Senator Manchin. Okay.
Well, if you can, I really need to know about this because
it is really disturbing. Our state is really getting plummeted
by this, and it is just ridiculous. If a person is putting out
the facts as they see them and if they do them and then you do
not like the results and there is someone making those
decisions to get rid of these people because they are not
giving the answers they want, then we need to know about that.
Ms. Kendall. Understood.
Senator Manchin. Now, Dr. Kimball, can you comment on the
extent of and the reasons for the dramatic rising estimates of
the U.S. shale gas resources over the last few years? The
reason I ask this question is, we are making decisions, we will
be, on exporting LNG and different things and also our
potential economic vitality from this resurgence, if you will,
if we use it for manufacturing. And do we have the reserves?
And why have they not been accurate on their estimates?
Dr. Kimball. Well thank you for that question.
There are two reasons that have affected the estimates of
our shale gas resources. One is that through the years there
are increasing numbers of surveys of subsurface conditions both
by USGS, by state geological surveys and by industry. And so
that helps us understand the full breadth of resources across
the nation. The second is that our analyses and our assessments
are directed toward technically recoverable resources at the
time that the assessment is done, and technology has been
increasingly effective in being able to extract these
resources. And as technology evolves more and more of the
resource becomes available for extraction.
Senator Manchin. Well, my followup question is how do you
all manage to stay on top of the estimates of the technically
If we are wanting to know how much that we can, not what we
have, but what we can recover to market?
Dr. Kimball. We're fortunate to have very close working
relationships with other Federal agencies, Department of Energy
for one, in this regard and with industry. And we have
developed a good working relationship with industry in terms of
protecting proprietary information and yet being able to use
that information to improve our assessments.
Senator Manchin. So if we are making determinations on our
votes on different types of energy topics would you say your
estimates are conservative? I mean if we are using your
estimates would they be on the conservative side or maybe on
the liberal side?
Dr. Kimball. I actually don't have an answer for that. I
would say that we tend to provide estimates that are
conservative, but that doesn't mean that each and every
estimate that we do falls in that category.
Senator Manchin. This find is very unusual, this Marcellus
shale and the Utica shale and now we have Rogersville and all
this coming on in our little state of West Virginia. It is so
much energy coming on the scene here, and we never saw that
coming. You all did not see it coming either, I don't think.
Dr. Kimball. No, I don't think that we were, not USGS, but
as a nation prepared to fully understand the extent of those
resources and the capability of technology to extract them.
Senator Manchin. Is there anything else out there we might
have under our feet that we do not know about that could really
give us another boost?
Dr. Kimball. Probably, but I couldn't tell you what it was
Senator Manchin. Thank you.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Manchin.
Senator Lee. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Thanks to all of you for being here and for all you do for
Ms. Kendall, I have a few questions for you.
It appears based on a review of publicly available records
on the OIG website that the OIG under your leadership has not
undertaken a comprehensive review or investigation of the
Endangered Species Act program including a review of the
circumstances surrounding the 2011 settlement, the so-called
mega settlement, between Fish and Wildlife Service and a number
of environmental activist organizations. Can you tell me why
your office has not looked into the listing and delisting
process in general or into the decisions that were made in
connection with the 2011 mega settlement?
Ms. Kendall. The settlement question has come up before,
Senator. And quite frankly, we asked, it was in another
hearing, if there were specific concerns about issues in that
settlement and have not been advised that there are specific
We did not look at the settlement. We have not been asked
to look at the settlement and are not aware of issues, other
than the usual issues involved in endangered species decisions
which are always controversial.
Senator Lee. Right. Well I would assume even in the absence
of a request from Congress or someone else that you would look
into something involving periodic review listing decisions just
to see how they are made and to see whether they are being made
according to the appropriate statutory standards?
Ms. Kendall. Not necessarily. If we have information to
suggest that they are not being properly made we would, of
course, look into them. But we have not received any of that
sort of allegation for a good number of years.
Senator Lee. Okay, Okay. So generally you would not reach
out to do that absent some kind of allegation of mismanagement
or malfeasance in connection with a listing or delisting
Ms. Kendall. Correct.
Senator Lee. And you have not received any of those?
Ms. Kendall. We have not.
Senator Lee. Okay.
Now concerns have been raised, including in a 2014
congressional investigation, about possible conflicts of
interest and lack of transparency in connection with the peer
review process that is used to justify ESA listing decisions.
For example, it is my understanding that the Fish and
Wildlife Service (FWS) has a policy dating all the way back to
1994 requiring FWS to seek the expert opinions of ``independent
specialists'' for its listing decisions and also for its
recovery plans. It is also my understanding that the Fish and
Wildlife Service regularly seeks out the same scientists whose
work they are relying on to serve as peer reviewers such that,
in effect, they are being, in many cases, asked to, kind of,
review their own work. It seems to me that might possibly be
less than independent. Would you share that concern?
Ms. Kendall. I'm not familiar with this issue, Senator. I
would certainly be glad to learn more from you and your staff
and let you know if it's something that we think we should look
Senator Lee. Okay, great. We would be happy to share our
concerns at a staff level and see if we can get to the bottom
of that and see if we can get that question answered.
Do you have any concerns with the FWS using peer reviewers,
the very same scientists whose work they rely on to justify
their listing decisions? I mean, assuming that is happening,
would that concern you?
Ms. Kendall. What you're saying may be of concern. It's
hard to apply theoretically. It would also be a matter of how
many scientists there actually are for a given area of
expertise. So, I really can't opine on a theoretical.
Senator Lee. Right, right. So in some instances that might
happen if it is a very narrow subspecialty and there are a
limited number of scientists?
Ms. Kendall. I can only surmise that that's a possibility.
Senator Lee. Okay.
One listing I do want to bring to your attention involves
the Gierisch Mallow, a small flowering plant that is found in
Utah. In its 2013 listing decision for this species the Fish
and Wildlife Service said that the peer reviewers generally
concurred with their methods and their conclusions. However, to
my knowledge the only publicly available comment in the record
for this listing is that attributable to a peer reviewer from a
Dr. Lee Hughes. That opinion, as I understand it, says that a
listing was prompted by the mega settlement lawsuit in 2011 and
is not well thought out based on that scientist's 20 years as a
BLM scientist. Are you familiar with that?
Ms. Kendall. I am not.
Senator Lee. Okay. I assume, you would agree that based on
that fact pattern if the facts as I understand them are
correct, that might warrant further scrutiny?
Ms. Kendall. Again, I would be very happy to work with your
staff for more detail on that.
Senator Lee. Okay, out I would assume you would see a
problem with the Fish and Wildlife Service stating that peer
reviewers generally agreed with their listing decision on the
one hand, but then finding that comments from the only
identified peer reviewer found in the record actually
contradict that decision.
Ms. Kendall. Again, theoretically that sounds like a
potential problem but I have no knowledge about the issue.
Senator Lee. Okay.
Fish and Wildlife's decisions whether to list a species
have, as you can appreciate, an enormous impact on the people
who live and work near that species, near where that species is
Do you have any concerns with the peer reviewers comment
that the listing was done to satisfy a lawsuit and was done,
that it was not ``well thought out?''
Ms. Kendall. Again, it sounds potentially problematic but I
have no knowledge about the underlying issue.
Senator Lee. Yes, okay. Well I assure you that it is, in
fact, problematic. And unless my understanding of the facts is
somehow incorrect, unless I am somehow mistaken, I would think
that the fact pattern that I have described is not just
potentially problematic but very problematic.
Now, I hope I am wrong. I hope you can come back to me and
say, look, you have been misinformed and you do not have
anything to worry about. But if in fact these facts as I have
described them are true, I would assume that you would at least
be willing to look into them and to address the problem that
they would create.
Ms. Kendall. Yes, sir.
Senator Lee. Okay, thank you very much.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Lee.
Senator King. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would like to address a brief comment to Ms. Kendall, Ms.
Wassmer and Ms. Sarri.
There is an important poll that came out this morning in
the Presidential race, and it found that Mr. Trump and Dr.
Carson had 49 percent of the support in the Republican Party.
The reason I think that is significant is that neither one of
them have any experience, whatsoever, in government and a big
part of their appeal to the public is a distrust of government.
The fact that outsiders are doing so well this year, it
seems to me, is something we should think about in terms of the
relationship of government to the American people. That makes
the role of the Inspectors General and the management folks
doubly important because we have to regain. I am not making a
political statement here. I am just saying we need to recognize
that in many instances we have lost the trust of the American
people as an institution.
You all are in a particularly important role to try to
rebuild that trust in terms of investigating and dealing with
issues of malfeasance and misfeasance and also in terms of
managing the taxpayer's money effectively.
There is not a question here, but I just want to emphasize
I consider the positions that you have been nominated to be
incredibly important because of the underlying issue of trust
of our democratic system and our ability for the government
which is quite large to be able to effectively meet the needs
of the American people.
I was struck by the fact that the two leading contenders
for President in one of our major parties are both outsiders in
that sense. I am not saying that is good or bad, but I think it
reflects this underlying concern the government is not
accountable and is not responsive. So these are very important
responsibilities, and I just wanted to emphasize that.
To go from that rather abstract level to some specifics.
Ms. Kimball, you mentioned the 3D elevation program that you
are doing. I have had some interaction on that program with a
company in Maine, Kappa Mapping. I believe it is a very
important program that is very useful, and I think will become
more useful in the future. I hope that is one that you will
Again, on the science as we deal with these difficult
issues, and Senator Manchin was asking you questions about how
much gas is there and all of those kinds of things, we can only
make good decisions here if we have good science and good data.
It is absolutely crucial that you keep, you are one of the
leading science people in the government, that you keep
providing us with as good, clear, unpoliticized data as you
possibly can. I assume that is your commitment.
Dr. Kimball. Thank you, Senator.
It's absolutely my commitment. If confirmed I can also
guarantee that it is the commitment of all of the men and women
of USGS to do just that.
As for the 3D elevation program, it is one of our
priorities. We see the good elevation data is absolutely a
foundation for understanding a lot of the other scientific
issues that we face today whether that's landslides and debris
flows or whether that's riparian systems and flood systems.
Having that information is essential.
Senator King. And appropriateness for development.
Dr. Kimball. Absolutely.
Senator King. Crucial information.
Well, thank you.
Dr. Kimball. Yes, sir.
Senator King. Mr. Kotek, by the way, I was impressed that
you all brought your families. I think if I had to appear
before a Congressional Committee, I would want my family as far
away as possible. [Laughter.]
It is wonderful that you did that.
Mr. Kotek, we are sort of turning the page on high level
nuclear waste and going to looking at consolidated interim
storage with consent.
Number one, I think it is important to realize that we have
high level nuclear storage sites in this country today. So it
is not a question of whether there will be some, it is a
question of where they are. We have one in Maine where the
Maine Yankee plant closed about a dozen years ago, and we have
a high level nuclear storage site. I think you have been there.
So my question is, as we are looking at this, sort of, new
option, what is the timing? Is this another 25 years or are we
talking about something that could happen within the reasonably
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, Senator, for the question.
Yes indeed, I've been to the site to which you're referring
and was struck by the fact that at that beautiful piece of
property you've got spent fuel being, you know, guarded,
protected, and everything else is gone from the reactor. And
that was one of the things that I think really struck the
members of the Blue Ribbon Commission when the Commission paid
With respect to timing the Administration put out a
strategy back in 2013 that at the time forecast about eight
years to get to what we call the pilot interim storage
facility, about 12 years to get to a full scale interim storage
facility. And then set a year of 2048 for ultimately a
So, you know, I think in the not too distant future, given
the appropriate appropriations and authorizations from the
Congress, we'd be in a position to move out with development of
the site using the consent-based process to which you refer.
And if confirmed I look forward to working with you on that.
Senator King. I will be 104 in 2048. I wish you could do it
a little bit sooner than that. I would love to see that Maine
Yankee site eliminated. And, you know, Eisenhower retook Europe
in 11 months.
Mr. Kotek. I should add to that point, sir, that in terms
of setting priorities for moving fuel the Administration's
strategy places top priority on dealing with fuel at the shut
down plant sites such as Maine Yankee to go first to interim
storage. So I would think that we would be able to move
Senator King. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chairman. Senator Hoeven?
Senator Hoeven. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Thanks to all of
our witnesses for being here today.
I would like to start with Dr. Kimball.
In May 2011 I asked then Secretary of Interior, Ken
Salazar, to update the U.S. Geological Survey's 2000 estimate
of the reserves, recoverable oil reserves in the Williston
Basin. The USGS worked for about 19 months to complete that
update and revise its findings of the Bakken reserves,
recoverable oil reserves in the Williston Basin, and of course,
increased their estimate very, very significantly. That was
very important both in terms of stimulating drilling activity
further or additional drilling activity in the Basin as well as
helping us encourage and in fact get the infrastructure
development that we needed as part of that energy development,
that energy--that oil play.
My first question is do you have plans to, I think now we
replace about 1.2 million barrels of oil a day and huge amounts
of natural gas as well. So my question is do you have plans to
update USGS's estimates of the recoverable oil reserves in the
Dr. Kimball. Well, thank you, Senator. And we thank you
because you were instrumental in bringing all the people to the
table to help us move forward with that last assessment.
We periodically review and update our assessments. I do not
know, right now, what the timeframe is to review that
assessment, but I will find that information out and provide it
Senator Hoeven. Okay, and then would you be willing to work
with me? USGS has been very responsive and very good on this,
so I would ask that you work with us to plan out the next
update because it is very important as we continue to develop
the Bakken, particularly now, with some of the competitive
pressures that we face.
Dr. Kimball. Yes, sir. I would be very happy, if confirmed,
to continue working with you to make sure that we have the
assessments updated as needed.
Senator Hoeven. Thank you, Dr. Kimball. I appreciate that.
I would like to turn to Principle Deputy Assistant
Secretary Sarri, welcome.
In March 2015 the Bureau of Land Management, which of
course falls under the Department of the Interior, issued final
regulations for hydraulic fracturing on Federal and Indian
land. There are 27 states that produce virtually all of the oil
and gas in this country, and those 27 states have regulations
that oversee hydraulic fracturing. The BLM rule duplicates
those efforts with a second layer of regulation.
U.S. District Judge Skavdahl in Federal District Court in
the State of Wyoming has issued a preliminary injunction in
regard to that regulation. I am going to read a quote from his
decision in issuing that preliminary injunction, ``Congress has
not authorized or delegated to the BLM authority to regulate
hydraulic fracturing and under our constitutional structure it
is only through Congressional action that the BLM can acquire
So my question to you is both as Principle Deputy Assistant
Secretary and now as nominee to be Assistant Secretary, what
does that court ruling say about the policies that are being
advanced under your tenure?
Ms. Sarri. Senator, thank you very much for the question.
I'm aware of the regulations. I wasn't directly involved in
those so I maybe have higher level comments and I'm happy to
get back to you with more information on the record, if that's
Ms. Sarri. What I think BLM was attempting to do was
provide standardization and a level playing field with a
greater regulatory certainty around hydraulic fracturing.
Obviously we have to have authority for the work that we're
doing when we undertake regulations, and so we look to that as
part of our regulatory process.
Senator Hoeven. Why is it necessary to have duplicate
regulations? Why not work with the states that already have
those regulations in place? We do that in many other aspects of
energy oversight and regulation. That is why we have SIPs,
State Implementation Plans, when we work with Federal agencies.
We use the practices that you have identified. Why have the
Ms. Sarri. I think the effort here was where states had
stronger regulations in place that we would look at those. But
to actually set, kind of, a baseline or bottom line that would
govern fracking across all states was the effort here.
Senator Hoeven. There is not an industry sector I talked
to, we could take energy, we could take agriculture, we could
take manufacturing, we could take high tech, we could take
financial services--there is not one single industry sector
that I talked to that does not come in and they say they are
absolutely mired in red tape and regulation and bureaucracy
which adds tremendous cost and makes it more difficult to
So my question to you is why not work with the states in a
primary role? They are already providing this regulation. And
then if some state is not or does not want to oversee it
properly then you could come in and provide that regulatory
structure. Why not take that approach rather than duplicate
regulation? And this goes to some of the comments that Senator
King just made.
Ms. Sarri. Okay. No, I appreciate that. So let me get back
to you more specifics on hydraulic fracking.
But overall let me just say about the regulatory approach.
This Administration has been trying to do a regulatory look
back across all of the departments of the Executive branch to
get rid of duplicative and outdated regulations. It's an
important part of our regulatory agenda.
I think you're right. When you're looking at regulations
you have to look at what states have and what the state role is
and what the state has in play and the also what the Federal
role is. And if it is something that crosses off in multiple
state boundaries whether you actually need to have, kind of, a
consistency that is, what is a baseline for regulations of
which then the states can buildupon more. I actually think that
that can create great certainty in the economy as well.
Senator Hoeven. Earlier you said that the Department was
willing to look at working with states that have a regulatory
regime in place so that perhaps we could eliminate this double
layer of bureaucracy. Are you willing to commit, if confirmed,
that you would work with us on that approach?
Ms. Sarri. Senator, if I'm confirmed, I would be willing to
work with you and I'd also be willing, obviously, to sit down
and talk with BLM on these particular issues.
Senator Hoeven. Okay. Thank you very much.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Hoeven.
Senator Hirono, you have been very patient.
Senator Hirono. Finally. [Laughter.]
Save the best for last.
Mr. Kotek, I could not help but note that you were born in
Hawaii but that you consider Idaho your home. We in Hawaii like
to think that anybody who has experienced Hawaii takes with
them the Aloha spirit wherever they consider home. Lucky for
you I do not have a question for you. [Laughter.]
Anyway, Dr. Murray, as a supporter of the ability of small
businesses to interact with the labs and to enhance the
technology transfer aspects of what goes on at the labs, I am
glad that your responses to Senator Heinrich's questions in
this arena was one of commitment to that proposition. So I
encourage you to continue with those efforts.
For Dr. Kimball, thank you very much for USGS and their
very important role in tracking the lava flow on the Big Island
that was threatening one of our communities. We are very
appreciative of what you all do. Thank you also for the
opportunity to chat with you recently in my office.
I am aware that the Department of the Interior, through the
USGS, serves as the lead agency in the Federal Open Water Data
Initiative. And as we know from the unfortunate drought that is
plaguing California and the West, awareness of water
availability, use, conservation, etcetera will become
increasingly important in the future and of course, that also
applies to Hawaii.
As USGS works to collect data to supply the Open Water Data
Initiatives and other future initiatives such as predictive
modeling and comprehensive decision support tools that will
help communities be responsible water users, can you highlight
some of the ways that Congress can help USGS in completing
these kinds of water initiatives?
Dr. Kimball. Well thank you very much for that question,
and I did appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about
these issues as they affect the Hawaii and the Pacific Islands.
I think that issues associated with water resources and
water availability are national issues that are important, and
I believe that the only way we can effectively address those
issues is to bring all sectors of both government, industry and
local and community efforts together so that we have the
authorizations that allow us to collect the information and
that we have the good working relationships with local and
community groups that permit that exchange of information and
the ability to enhance our surveys.
One of the things that we've been working with that we
believe has a great deal of potential is the concept of citizen
science and bringing those communities that are dependent on
this information into the dialog. And we really welcome the
opportunity. And if confirmed, I would very much welcome the
opportunity to work with you and the Committee to identify ways
to enhance the water data collection, monitoring and
dissemination efforts across the country.
Senator Hirono. Thank you very much because this, as in so
many other areas, requires a lot of collaboration at all levels
including, as you say, the citizens, citizen scientists. I
think that was your reference. That sounds really interesting.
If there are things the Committee can do to enhance and support
those collaborative efforts I certainly would want to discuss
those with you.
For Ms. Sarri, in your testimony you mention PMB's role in
coordinating across businesses on policy issues such as
invasive species management. I think you are aware that Hawaii
is practically, maybe, the invasive species capital of the
country because the impact, the negative impacts of invasive
species is something that we totally understand.
In March of this year the Department of Navy released a
regional biosecurity plan for Micronesia and Hawaii that makes
recommendations to the State of Hawaii, Guam, CNMI, Micronesia
and the Marshall Islands as well as Palau. So this requires a
lot of collaboration among the Departments of Defense,
Agriculture, and Interior. The purpose of the report is to be
used as a tool in coordinating across agencies to prevent,
manage and control invasive species in the Pacific region which
is a huge region.
Question. Since the Department of the Interior serves as
one of the 13 Federal departments and agency members of the
National Invasive Species Council can you speak a bit on how
you, as Assistant Secretary for PMB, would work within your
Department to implement or help the jurisdictions implement
some of the priority recommendations of the Navy's report?
Ms. Sarri. Senator, thank you very much for your question.
If confirmed, I would be definitely working very closely.
Interior happens to be one of the leads of the National
Invasive Species Council. We've been working very closely with
Agriculture and with NOAA to, kind of, reinvigorate, I would
say, the Council.
And the issues that you raise and issues particularly on
what's taking place in the Pacific are very important to
prevent invasive species from coming into areas of the Pacific.
But when they do get there, early detection and rapid response
is absolutely critical. So at Interior we've been making
additional investments in terms of looking at early detection
and rapid response issues, prevention and education.
I would anticipate, especially as we lead up to the World
Conservation Congress, that the issue around invasive species
and biosecurity in the Pacific are going to be a central issue.
Senator Hirono. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Hirono.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Ms. Kendall, I would like to ask you about a report that
your office, the Office of Inspector General, issued on the
Office of Surface Mining's ongoing stream buffer zone
For years Members of Congress have expressed grave concerns
about this rulemaking. Prior to the issuance of your report the
House held a number of hearings which examined the rulemaking
including the jobs that would be lost as a result of the rule.
A redacted copy of the report indicates that your office
completed the report on February 28th of 2013, but your office
did not release the report to the public or to Congress until
December 20th of 2013, 10 months after your department
completed the report. So you completed it, and then we waited
10 months until you released it on December 20th.
Now I would note that December 20th was the Friday right
before Christmas. It was also three days after this Committee
held a confirmation hearing on Janice Schneider. She was
nominated to oversee the very office under investigation, the
Office of Surface Mining. So you waited ten months and then you
released it the Friday before Christmas, three days after the
Committee held the confirmation hearing so we could not ask
questions about it.
The question is should it have occurred to you, since you
are up front now for a position and confirmation, shouldn't it
have occurred to you that the Senate and the public had an
interest in seeing your report prior to Ms. Schneider's
confirmation hearing and in any case, why did you wait to
release the report until three days later?
Ms. Kendall. Senator, I am almost embarrassed to say it. I
don't recall the details of that delay, and I simply can't
answer your question because I don't know. But I would be happy
to get back to you on that. It sounds wrong. I would hope that
there's a meaningful explanation. I'm sorry I don't have it
Senator Barrasso. Because I think to people that look at
this it certainly seems like you are playing games with
Congress. So I would love to hear back from you on that.
I understand you did provide a copy of the report to the
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Mineral
Management. I am also going to ask that you look into whether
prior to December 20th you shared the report or any information
related to the report with anyone else outside the Office of
the Inspector General and if so, with whom? I will ask that you
followup in writing.
Ms. Kendall. I will do that.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you.
Senator Barrasso. Mr. Kotek, before joining the Department
of Energy earlier this year you worked as a Strategic
Consultant for the Fluor Corporation. Since 2011 the Department
has given Fluor about $1 billion worth of publicly-owned
uranium from its stockpile of excess uranium. In exchange Fluor
has provided decommissioning services at the Department's
gaseous diffusion plant in Ohio. The Government Accountability
Office has said that these transactions violate Federal law, so
I question whether the Department receives full evaluation for
the uranium that it gives to this company.
If confirmed, you will be responsible for overseeing the
public's stockpile of excess uranium. You will play a
significant role in determining the circumstances and
conditions under which the Department disposes of excess
uranium. Given your past employment by this corporation do you
plan to recuse yourself from decisions that would benefit this
corporation and if not, why not?
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, sir, for the question.
Regarding my specific involvement it had to do with a
cleanup contract at the State of Idaho, within the State of
Regarding a specific recusal those matters are still under
discussion within the Department right now and we'd be happy to
get back to you when there's some determination made there.
Senator Barrasso. So it's your position that you do not
have a conflict of interest with respect to the decisions
affecting the corporation?
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, sir.
I have been and will continue to be completely forthcoming
with the experts in the Department who makes those
determinations so they can give me the appropriate guidance.
Senator Barrasso. Because I question whether the Department
actually has received full value for the uranium that it gives
to the corporation. The corporation did not consume the uranium
that it receives from the Department, instead it sells the
uranium, as you know, to another party.
Earlier this year I called on the Department to condition
all future transfers of uranium on the requirement that the
company publicly disclose the terms under which it sells the
uranium. If confirmed would you be willing to do that?
Mr. Kotek. Thank you, sir, for the question.
My understanding of the process is that, you know, DOE
structures its uranium transfers in a manner that results in a
fair market value price for the uranium. Of course, as you've
referred, the transfers to Fluor B and W are exchanged for
services and the value of the services that DOE receives are
based on prevailing market prices at that time and that DOE is
immediately credited with the value and services by the
So that's the process, as I understand it. And going
forward we'd be happy to continue to work with you and your
staff on that matter.
Senator Barrasso. Do you think it is an unreasonable
request, given your past employment by the Fluor Corporation?
Mr. Kotek. Sir, again, I think, given my particular
situation I will work with Ethics Council inside the Department
to understand where, you know, those things I should and should
not be involved in and will proceed accordingly.
Senator Barrasso. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
The Chairman. Thank you, Senator Barrasso.
Ms. Kimball, I want to come to you for a moment. I thank
you for joining us in Alaska. It was some time in August, I
forget when, but we were actually celebrating the fact that
over half of the State of Alaska had been mapped through the
IfSAR data. I your written testimony you state more than 63
percent of the state has been mapped appropriately. I think at
that time we were celebrating 53 or 57 percent. I do not know
exactly, but I commented at the time that there are very few
places in the country where we would be celebrating getting
half way there. I think it speaks to the issue that we face in
Alaska as it relates to the adequacy of our mapping and the
need to get going yesterday.
Thank you for your efforts to work with us. I know we have
many in the state that appreciate that, but we also recognize
that we have a ways to go, so I want to work with you to do
Last year USGS announced that Afghanistan was the first
country to be almost completely mapped using hyper spectral
imaging data. Of course that gets your attention when we here
in this country are trying to get ourselves mapped and we see
that our government is supporting the full mapping of
Afghanistan--almost completely mapped.
Can you tell me what the status of collecting the
hyperspectral data is here in this country and where we are
with the status of LIDAR or Landsat eight and nine data in the
United States and in Alaska, specifically?
Dr. Kimball. Well, thank you for that question. It was
quite an honor to participate in the sky breaking ceremony in
Alaska last month.
As far as the hyperspectral data goes we were able to map
Afghanistan because we had received support from USAID and the
Department of Defense to do so as part of the reconstruction
efforts, and that allowed us to develop the software and the
analytical tools to enable hyperspectral to be used to look at
mineral deposits on the surface, within the soil surface, where
we don't have surface expression for minerals.
So we have now brought that technology home, and we are
using it initially in Alaska to map certain areas in order to
test that system in the kinds of conditions that we have and to
address assessments of mineral resources in Alaska which has
quite an enormous potential in that regard.
The Chairman. So is that underway now?
Dr. Kimball. Pardon me?
The Chairman. Is that underway now?
Dr. Kimball. I believe it has started. I will confirm that.
I believe that it has been started.
Dr. Kimball. And as we are able to refine those techniques
then we will pull that technology out across the country.
In terms of LIDAR and Landsat, we now have two Landsat
satellites operational, Landsat 7 and Landsat 8. We're working
very closely with NASA to move forward in the planning and the
execution of the next Landsat mission which will be Landsat 9
that we anticipate having launched somewhere between 2021 and
We are working diligently between the two agencies to
ensure that we do not have a data gap. With two satellites in
the air we get that information on an eight-day repeat cycle
which is very important for many uses especially in the
As far as LIDAR, it continues to be a high priority for us.
And you will see that in the Administration proposals to
enhance and continue acquisition of LIDAR data to support the
3D elevation program.
The Chairman. Thank you, we appreciate your work in that
Ms. Sarri, I want to go back to you and followup on your
I understand what you said about your not being involved in
the decisions that were made by Interior either as it related
to Shell or as it related to the announcement about not moving
forward on the Shell extensions or also the 2016 and 2017 lease
sales. I am perplexed though, and I do not follow why you would
not be, I guess.
In the Interior's press release they cite to specific items
in light of current market conditions, low interest, low
industry interest, DOI today announces. We were informed by the
Under Secretary that it did not make sense for budgetary and
resource reasons to prepare the lease sales. That was what we
Given that your position that you have been acting in for
Policy, Management and Budget is specific to budgetary and
resource purposes, I guess the real question that I have if you
have said that you were not involved in these decisions is why
were you not involved in these decisions if they were, in fact,
related to budgetary and resource reasons? Further, if you
will, did your office conduct any form of analysis of the
economic impacts that these decisions would have on the State
of Alaska whether it be future oil production, whether it be
the jobs that would not be created or something else?
Ms. Sarri. Well, Senator, as to the Assistant Secretary's
remarks I would want to go back and ask her for some
clarification. My understanding about the reason the decision
was made was the lack of interest in the leases during this
time period and then also market forces and the low energy
prices. So my understanding is those were the drivers of it.
The Chairman. I hope that you understand that lack of
industry interest is not lack of interest in the resource. It
is lack of interest in dealing with an Administration that has
simply made it impossible for them to move forward. That is
where the lack of interest is. I think that that needs to be
reported back, because the interest is clearly there. But if
you cannot meet the terms and conditions that have been set by
the Administration for operating, what are you supposed to do?
Ms. Sarri. Got it, understand, Senator. But I will get back
to you. I think maybe what Secretary Schneider meant in her----
The Chairman. It was, I am sorry, it was not Secretary
Schneider. I do not want to get confused here.
Ms. Sarri. Okay. I'm sorry.
The Chairman. It was Mr. Beaudreau, who----
Ms. Sarri. Oh, Okay, I'm sorry. I must have misunderstood
there. I'll go back and take a look at it. I'm assuming what
they meant was, you know, where we have shown we're working
under a constrained budget. And if the market wasn't at this
time necessarily supporting it. And I understand you have a
different perspective in terms of that, that issue, then you
would look to move some of your budgetary resources to other
But I will make sure I get clarification and get back to
you on the record on that particular question.
The Chairman. Are you aware as to whether or not there was
any assessment or analysis as to the potential impact?
Ms. Sarri. I will also get back to you. There was not any
assessment done by my office on this particular issue, but I
will ask if there was an assessment done by BOEM or BSEE.
The Chairman. Thank you.
Senator Cantwell. Thank you, Madam Chair.
I wanted to go back to Dr. Murray and ask about DOE's role
in advanced materials. Obviously these are very important
materials for lightweight manufacturing, whether used in trucks
or airplanes. Can you speak to what we need to do to continue
U.S. leadership on this issue and what do we need to do in the
area of recycling of these materials as well?
Dr. Murray. Thank you for the question.
Yes, DOE has a major role in materials in the new
manufacturing initiative as well as manufacturing for recycle.
And if you look at things like 3D printing and what's called
materials genomics which is basically looking at the properties
of materials and making a data base and then searching the data
base in multi-dimensions to figure out which material would
actually work better than the one that we have all been using
because it just happened to work when we tried it the first
That is making materials, I will call it science, and
materials engineering more into a science than it has been
before. It has been very Edisonian so a company will use a
material because it knows it works and it just doesn't want to
bother because it takes about seven years to move a new
material into manufacture.
We're trying to shrink that down to, let's just say, three
years and to look at the space of materials. And this is being
done in the storage hubs that I was talking about earlier which
is an Office of Science hub on novel energy storage and
So they're looking at there's an anode. There's a cathode,
and there's an electrolyte. And all of these can be, instead of
picking one and then trying out others, look at the whole space
of what you could do and pick out computationally what might be
interesting projects. And then go and study them in the lab.
And this is turning out to be quite fruitful. It's only
fruitful because we have enough computational power and enough
experimental expertise to be able to get the properties of the
materials measured accurately enough.
Senator Cantwell. Is that where the exascale computing
Dr. Murray. Absolutely, that's exactly right.
Senator Cantwell. So we need to do both.
Dr. Murray. We need exascale for that reason in particular.
And it will be the wonderful thing about exascale, if we can
get to the power density, the low power density of new chips
for the exascale computing, we will have very small exascale
computing will fill this room, of course. We will have very
small pedascale computers because you can just carve out a part
of it and then you can have one in every hospital or every, for
precision medicine or you can have one in R and D plants to do
this materials genomics. It really is a revolution.
Senator Cantwell. I like that word.
How important do you think it is that we fund this research
and development in these areas for DOE?
Dr. Murray. Well it's spectacularly important.
Senator Cantwell. Okay, thank you.
And Graphene? Where would you put that?
Dr. Murray. Graphene is really a very interesting material.
Back when I was doing research at Bell Labs in the 1990's,
nobody thought you could get a single layer of carbon. That was
When, some years later, people realized that you could put
scotch tape on graphite which is well known in battery
materials and just pull off a single layer of carbon. And that
is the strongest material known to man when you try to pull on
it. And that--it's a very interesting conductor. It's not quite
a semiconductor, but you can make it into a semiconductor.
And it has very interesting physics properties. And it's a
little bit hard to deal with. And it's not yet in manufacturing
but it has started a new thought process about putting other
two dimensional materials together. And this is where coming
back into batteries you can create these new two dimensional
materials by putting layers together. So it was actually a very
important part of material science.
Senator Cantwell. Well this shows how important material
science is to energy solutions; that has people interested in
Dr. Murray. Yes, absolutely.
Materials is important to absolutely everything including,
I will say, software because you have to run software on
something. And that something turns out to be your exascale
computer which you can't make unless you can understand the
Senator Cantwell. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Dr. Murray. Thank you.
The Chairman. Thank you.
I have one final question, and this is directed to you, Ms.
I will have other questions that I will submit for the
record to you and others who have appeared before us today, but
in the interest of time I will just ask my final one.
You have heard comments from colleagues here regarding
issues during your tenure, the stream protection rule or stream
buffer rule has been mentioned a couple different times.
This dispute between your office and the House Committee on
Natural Resources persisted through 2014. It included your
decision not to respond to a subpoena from the House, and to my
knowledge that is still at a stalemate that has not been
Have you taken any steps since formally referring the
matter? What have you done in terms of referring this to the
Secretary and then, not only what have you done in advancing
this to the Secretary's level, but what have you done to assist
the House Committee to receive a satisfactory response to this
Ms. Kendall. Well, as you know, Madam Chairman, last
November I sent a memo to the Secretary referring the issue
formally to her. Having found really nothing happening a couple
weeks ago my counsel reached out to the Office of the
Solicitor, with whom we've been working on this issue, urged
them to, again, sort of, activate the issue and reconsider
their decision to lay claim to privilege, although the word has
not been used, as you know.
As recently as yesterday I spoke to the Chief of Staff for
the Secretary and urged him to ask someone from the Department
to actively engage the House Committee on Natural Resources.
They had said they had no outstanding request, but I am told
that they did reach out, as of yesterday and----
The Chairman. To the House Committee?
Ms. Kendall. To the House Committee and we'll be engaging
in the process of accommodation which is the precise process
that I've been asking both sides to engage in.
The Chairman. Thank you for that update.
This goes to a series of questions that you and I had
discussed when we were visiting in my office in terms of the
role, what the law requires of the IG with respect to reports
to Congress and whether there is an independent reporting
obligation and then again, this independent duty to assist
So again know that these are very important. I was
interested in the direction Senator King was taking with his
comment there about the polling data on Presidential nominees
at this point in time, but I do think he does make a point
about the imperative of the various IGs throughout the
government that they maintain that level of independence, that
they maintain that level of true impartiality here and ensuring
that there is a commitment made to the process. That is what we
are seeking to, kind of, call out here.
You mentioned in your opening statement that hindsight is
20/20 and that there may have been some situations where you
may have done something differently or taken a different
approach. Can you give me any indication as to which decisions,
if any, you would have made differently and why?
Ms. Kendall. Yes, I can, Madam Chairman.
The one decision that I think has followed me the closest
and the hardest was the decision to be willing to be a part of
the Safety Oversight Board, in retrospect with the benefit of
Going forward I would do that differently. I think my
office could have conducted the very same work that it did
conduct without my participation on something like that Board,
although it was in extraordinary circumstances and
extraordinary times given a national crisis. But that is one,
certainly, that I have rethought many times over and think
that, although the ends may or may not justify the means, in
the end our office did the work that needed to be done to
review the entirety of Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas
And I think my team did a fabulous job, a very
comprehensive job and did it very quickly, but we could have
done it without my participation in that Board, I believe,
At the time, as I said in my testimony too, I was operating
under the best information I had at the time and utilized in my
best judgment. But we can always second guess decisions we've
The Chairman. I appreciate that.
Senator Cantwell, any followup?
Well, thank you all. I appreciate the time that you have
given us, and to the families that have been very patient as
you have provided support to the six men and women in front of
us, we thank you for being here today.
With that, the Committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:40 p.m. the hearing was adjourned.]
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