It was mostly smooth sailing for Dan Brouillette, current deputy secretary at the Department of Energy (DOE), during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday to discuss his nomination to become DOE Secretary when Rick Perry steps down later this year.
President Trump "chose wisely" in nominating Brouillette to lead DOE, according to committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who said she anticipates that he will be confirmed by the full Senate. The committee is scheduled to vote on Brouillette's nomination Tuesday.
"I for one am very glad that you are here before us as the president's nominee to be the Secretary of Energy," Murkowski told Brouillette. "I think we've seen during your time as deputy secretary that you've really helped to create a solid agenda for the department that's been focused on the science and the technology. You've brought us into the world of quantum and artificial intelligence."
"He knows the department, he know congress, and he knows the energy issues facing our nation," said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), the ranking Democrat on the committee.
"He is eminently qualified, as the United States leads the world in all sorts of energy issues," said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA). "As deputy secretary he showed a commitment to energy security. It is no surprise as a Louisiana native he understands the importance of U.S. LNG [liquefied natural gas] exports, creating jobs in the United States but lowering greenhouse gas emissions abroad."
Brouillette answered questions from Senate members on a wide variety of topics, including nuclear waste storage, Arctic energy exploration, and cybersecurity.
"It's been the policy of this administration and perhaps even of the last administration to pursue an all-of-the-above energy strategy," Brouillette said. "The reasons for doing that are numerous, but the reasons that I think are perhaps most important for us today is that, in our view, diversity of energy supply means energy security, not only for our nation, but our allies across the world. So it's very, very important that we continue to produce energy from all sources that we have here in the United States."
Only once did a hint of controversy enter the hearing, when Brouillette was asked if he had any connection to energy deals in the Ukraine that have ensnared Perry in the House's impeachment proceedings against Trump. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has said Trump asked Perry to work with Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, on policies related to Ukraine, but denied that their meeting with Ukrainian officials earlier this year amounted to a “shadow foreign policy” effort, as critics have alleged.
Brouillette said he and Perry have worked together to lessen Russia's energy influence in the region through construction of its Nord Stream 2 pipeline and other efforts, but he denied any connection to conversations under House review.
"I have not been involved in any of the conversations that are related to the House's inquiry. Those are not matters that would typically fall to the chief operating officer of the department. My role in the department is to run the day-to-day operations."
Brouillette would have strong support moving out of the committee, according to Murkowski. "It's my intention to move you through the committee process just as rapidly as possible," she said. Perry has announced that he will be depart on Dec. 1, “and we would like to see a seamless transition there as we move your name forward to assume this very important position as Secretary of Energy."
Perry announced last month that he planned to step down by the end of the year, and Trump quickly nominated Brouillette to move into DOE's top spot.
The Senate confirmed Brouillette to DOE's second highest position in August 2017. Brouillette had been head of public policy for USAA, is a former vice president of Ford Motor Co. and previously served as chief of staff to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He also served as assistant secretary of Energy for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs from 2001-2003 and was a member of the Louisiana State Mineral and Energy Board from 2013-2016.