Friday Focus: Potential leadership changes in DC that impact Alaskans.

In News by wp_sysadmin

From the Washington Examiner – Barrasso replacing Murkowski? 

ENERGY COMMITTEE SHAKEUP: Barrasso announced his intent yesterday to lead Republicans on the Senate Energy Committee next year, seeking to take over the top slot from term-limited Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

His move would open up the top GOP spot on the Senate Environment Committee, expected to be filled by West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito. She would be the first woman to hold the Republican leadership position on that panel and the second-ever woman to chair the committee, behind Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, if Republicans keep the Senate.

Barrasso, who already sits on the Energy Committee, is likely to maintain a focus on low-carbon technologies such as carbon capture and advanced nuclear that Murkowski has also strongly backed. However, he might not lean as far into broader policy discussions as Murkowski, who has recently expressed an openness to consider policies like carbon pricing and talks frequently of how warming oceans, melting ice, and other climate change effects are harming her state.

The next DOE secretary? ‘This is the guy you want’
David Ferris, E & E News Reporter, November 19, 2020

Arun Majumdar is shaping up as the most influential energy adviser in President-elect Joe Biden’s transition circle.

He is heading the Department of Energy’s transition team and is a leading candidate to be its secretary, giving him a prime perch to guide Biden’s energy policy. But who is he and what is his vision for the agency?

An immigrant from India who worked his way into the top echelons of universities, national labs and President Obama’s Energy Department, Majumdar is recalled by former colleagues as a talented scientist and administrator who can explain complicated technical matters to a lay audience — and has the acumen to work across the aisle on Capitol Hill.

“He knows the building, he will hit the ground running,” said Brandon Hurlbut, a former chief of staff for Obama’s first Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “He knows how to engage with the national labs, he knows how to engage with Congress. He knows how to manage a large enterprise; he has the technical chops.”

Those skills could be put to the test if Majumdar takes a top government post, as DOE plays a leading role in Biden’s sweeping climate and energy agenda.

Biden has called for the nation’s electrical grid to be carbon-neutral by 2035, meaning that DOE will be the agency to lead initiatives to electrify cars and buildings, ramp up carbon capture at fossil fuel power plants, reinvent nuclear power, and navigate controversial calls to phase out natural gas, while also representing the U.S. around the globe as Biden tries to reassert U.S. leadership on climate change.

Biden’s DOE also may face a Republican Senate opposed to spending public dollars on energy, and conservative energy advocates who are ready to dismiss some or all of Biden’s energy priorities.

Other names under consideration as DOE secretary are Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, who was deputy secretary under Obama and has long been a Biden adviser; Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination with a strong climate and energy focus; Ernest Moniz, Obama’s second DOE secretary; and Dan Reicher, a Stanford University lecturer who had senior roles in President Clinton’s DOE and served on Obama’s transition team.

Majumdar has resigned from at least some of the many boards he sits on, a common sign that someone is being considered for a top government job. Asked if he was being vetted, Majumdar forwarded the request to Biden’s transition staff. Regardless of whether he ends up in a DOE position, Majumdar can leave his footprint on the agency now by directing future hires and the transition.

Majumdar came to Washington in 2009 as the first head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), an unusual arm of government that incubates transformational but underfunded energy technologies. He is a strong proponent of using government dollars to innovate the energy sector, including for fossil fuels.

Biden Urged to Make Haaland First Native American in Cabinet
Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Bloomberg, November 18, 2020

A campaign to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to put Representative Deb Haaland in charge of the Interior Department — and make her the first American Indian cabinet secretary in U.S. history — is gaining ground in Washington.

The effort, which involves lawmakers, tribal leaders, and some environmentalists, also is making headway with Biden transition officials, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing deliberations over personnel.

Haaland, who was just elected to her second term in the House, is a top contender for the post of Interior secretary along with retiring Senator Tom Udall, the people said. Both are Democrats from New Mexico.

Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, just took himself out of the running, throwing his support behind Haaland for the post in a letter Monday to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Biden officials have been urged not to give serious weight to Senator Martin Heinrich, another Democrat from New Mexico, in part because of his decision to support current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s confirmation last year, two of the people said.