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Walden talks Congress returning, COVID-19, energy issues with E&E News


05.04.20

Washington, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) talked with E&E News about the House coming back to work, doing committee work remotely, and ongoing efforts to provide relief during COVID-19.

Check out a few highlights below.

E&E News

Q&A: Walden on aid for energy companies, Hill comeback

By Nick Sobczyk

May 4, 2020

Walden spoke to E&E News by phone last week about the next stimulus, the struggling energy industry, his talks with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and returning to work on Capitol Hill:

It seems like the next round of relief will be about state and local aid and targeted industry relief. Where do you expect the big fights to land?

If we’re going to do infrastructure, my view is that it should be infrastructure that is enduring and lasting. Since the next generation’s going to get stuck with the burden of the cost one way or another, they should get the benefit of the infrastructure, unlike in the Obama years stimulus that had to be shovel-ready or nothing.

The administration has thrown some ideas out there to help the oil industry — royalty relief, an SPR buy. What should be on the table in terms of target relief for energy, both from the congressional side and the Trump administration’s side?

We know that one of the biggest issues in the oil patch is lack of storage. Since consumption is down dramatically, we’ve got to expand storage. I’ve talked to Secretary Brouillette several times about this, and he has underlying authorities that date back decades, I believe, that allow additional storage capacity.

Democrats and renewable energy companies have been pushing for tax break extensions for clean energy and some other forms of aid. Would you support some sort of trade-off — targeted relief for the oil industry, whatever that looks like, in exchange for targeted relief for renewable companies?

We have to see what’s being discussed. Obviously, my district is home to a lot of wind energy, and I know they’re on certain timelines to build out and all. I think we have to be thoughtful about that — that a lot of projects that were on schedule, on budget, on plan suddenly went off in the ditch because you can’t work.

Some committees have done remote or paper-based hearings, including the Senate Environment and Public Works on the hydrofluorocarbon legislation that already passed through E&C. Have you given any thought to that or spoken to Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) about whether E&C might move to do some sort of remote work?

I have deep reservations about conducting hearings and markups by Zoom and phone call. I think that’s not the best way to go. I think it disenfranchises access to the public and the press. It changes how it all flows, and you’re disconnected from your staff.

What should the return to normal work for Congress look like? When are you going to feel safe coming back?

Those discussions are underway, and I’ve asked some members on my side of the aisle in the committee to have those discussions about what we’d be comfortable with.

Click HERE to read the full interview.

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