November 05, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) pressed nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Katharine MacGregor to ensure that no action is being taken or plans underway from the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to drill natural resources off of the coast of Maine – reasserting the state’s opposition to offshore drilling. During the hearing, Senator King also pressed nominees on their support of the Restore Our Parks Act, conserving natural resources, and improving the efficiency of the electric grid. The other nomination under consideration in today’s committee hearing was James Danly, nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
The exchange with nominee MacGregor included this moment:
King: “On offshore drilling, I was delighted to hear your answer to Senator [Mike] Lee’s question about collaboration and cooperation with state officials. In the state of Maine, our legislature, our governor, and our entire Congressional delegation are adamantly opposed to offshore drilling off our coast. Will you take the same view of the importance of collaboration with state officials in that situation?”
MacGregor: “Absolutely sir. 43 USC 1344 is where we get direction on the administration of the leasing program. It requires our work with the governors of the state and local governments.”
King: “And you will absolutely respect that provision?”
MacGregor: “We will absolutely work every step of the way. We shall work as directed by law.”
King: “Are there plans for drilling or exploration off the New England coast today?”
MacGregor: “I think the Secretary’s statement that a five year plan is not imminent right now is correct. We are evaluating the impact of separate litigation on that program.”
Later in the hearing, Senator King discussed the importance of conserving natural resources for future generations.
“In the space between our grandparent’s birth and our grandchildren’s death, we are going to use up essentially all of the fossil fuel that it took hundreds of millions of years on this planet to create, and I just offer that as a thought,” said Senator King during the hearing. “Forgetting about the environmental effects – which are severe, but that the very fact, in a sense, our generation, our memory of generation is using up something that’s a finite resource on the planet, I find disturbing. As we go into Thanksgiving, I think of dad sitting at the end of the table, the turkey comes, all the kids are sitting there, and dad says ‘I’m going to eat all of it’. And that’s what we’re doing, and I think that’s unconscionable from a point of view of simply stewardship of a resource, let alone environmental stewardship.”
A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions, Senator King is the lead sponsor on a range of bills that encourage energy efficiency such as the Next Generation Grid Resources and Infrastructure Development (GRID) Act to improve energy independence, foster innovation, and leverage federal resources to support a more resilient and modern electric grid. In August, Senators King and Collins introduced the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Act, legislation that would support businesses that want to invest in energy efficiency technology, help diversify energy options for rural industries, and maximize Maine’s natural resources. In October, Senator King joined his colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to release funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) as quickly as possible to Maine people who rely on its aid to pay for steep winter heating costs. In a May hearing, Senator King highlighted the grave dangers posed by rapidly rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere, and emphasized the importance of global collaboration in order to fully and effectively respond to the threats of climate change. In April, he published a column on Earth Day laying out the ambitious and attainable steps America must take to respond to the challenges of climate change. In February, Senator King took to the Senate floor to urge action on climate change. He strongly opposed the Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.