WASHINGTON—Arkansas U.S. Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton today announced they are placing a hold on the confirmation vote of President Obama’s nominee for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Under Secretary for Management and Performance, Victoria Marie Baecher Wassmer, because of the Department’s insufficient response to the Arkansas Congressional Delegation’s letter related to the potential partnership with the Clean Line project. The senators released the following statement:
“The Department of Energy has provided insufficient and incomplete responses to a series of questions from members of the Senate and House related to the Department’s implementation of Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. A requested meeting with the Secretary of Energy to discuss these matters has not yet occurred. We are also deeply concerned by the financial arrangements between the Department and applicants like Clean Line. The Department has still not explained how it avoids conflicts of interest when applicants like Clean Line pay the salaries and expenses associated with pending applications. Before the Federal Government exercises eminent domain over Arkansans’ private property, Arkansans at least deserve a fair process without conflicts of interest. We want to facilitate the consideration of this nomination by the full Senate as quickly as possible, but first we need adequate and complete responses to the questions we’ve asked. Responses received so far, while appreciated, have been partial and largely thematic, failing to address many of the specific questions raised in our September 14, 2015 bicameral letter. We hope to meet with the Secretary soon and we hope this matter can be resolved quickly.