April 27, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today questioned Vicki Hollub, President and Chief Executive Officer of Occidental Petroleum on her company’s support of the restoration of Obama-era regulations to limit the release of methane emissions, in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator King has been outspoken about climate dangers posed by methane – particularly since the Trump Administration announced its intention to roll back restrictions last August. Senator King is a leader of this week’s Congressional Review Act, which aims to rescind the Trump Administration’s relaxation of methane regulations. Given methane’s immense impact on the climate, a wide range of oil and gas leaders have expressed support for these regulations, including BP, Shell, Equinor, and Cheniere.
SENATOR KING: “As you know, methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas; as you know, one of the great sources of methane is fugitive emissions from drilling. The Obama Administration put restrictions on that release, the Trump Administration issued a rule to essentially lift those restrictions. We have a motion on the floor of the Senate, I think this week, to rescind the rescinding…What’s your company’s position on that action?”
HOLLUB: “We support the direct regulation of methane, just for the reasons you said. It is very potent and we need to have regulation in place to ensure that we have adequate control throughout the industry. We support that.”
SENATOR KING: “So you would urge us to vote yes on the resolution to restore the direct regulation?"
HOLLUB: “We support doing that, yes.”
Later in the hearing, Senator King underscored the importance of investments in job creation and transitions from careers in the fossil fuel industry to renewable energy fields – particularly important in rural areas of the nation. During the exchange, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon shared his Maine connection, prompting Senator King to highlight the ways the state’s economy has shifted in recent decades.
SENATOR KING: “The jobs loss issue is really tough, and I understand that. I’ve lived through in my state some wrenching industrial changes—lots of jobs lost. However, that happens. Because of changes in the economy. Shouldn’t we be talking more about how to reskill and reemploy those jobs rather than trying to change the direction of where the economy is headed? An example is coal; coal has largely gone into a serious decline because of natural gas, and the replacement of coal plants with natural gas plants. Talk to me about, and I really understand what you are talking about, those are good high wage jobs. But the economy changes. We had good high wage jobs in Maine doing a lot of other things 50 years ago. We don’t have them anymore.”
GOVERNOR GORDON: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Barrasso. Senator King, my mother grew up in Kennebunk when it was a shoe factory place.”
SENATOR KING: “There were 30,000 jobs in shoes in 1970 in Maine. Now there may be 1,000.”
A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions wherever they can be found, Senator King is a founding member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, and a lead sponsor on a range of bills that encourage energy efficiency and research on clean energy technologies. Senator King is a cosponsor of the Battery and Critical Mineral Recycling Act, which aims to incentivize the recycling of rechargeable and electrochemical batteries needed to meet the United States’ growing clean energy needs and decrease dependence on critical mineral imports, and the Joint Long-Term Storage Act seeks to speed up deployment of long-duration energy storage technologies through strategic collaboration between federal agencies. Senator King is a cosponsor of the Renewable Electricity Standard Act of 2019 which would put the U.S. on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050, and the Clean Economy Act which would address the need for bold climate action and at the same time boosts American competitiveness, promotes healthier communities and fosters a growing economy that works for everyone. He focused the December 2019 edition of Inside Maine on the impact of climate change in Maine, as well as emerging bipartisan solutions to address this global existential crisis.
In addition to Ms. Hollub and Governor Gordon, today’s hearing featured testimony from: Nada Culver, Deputy Director of Policy and Programs, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Department of the Interior; Governor Brian Vallo of Pueblo of Acoma; and Kathleen Sgamma, President of the Western Energy Alliance.