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Downloading Manchin's EV hearing

Jan 11, 2024
Illustration of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin holding a long sheet of paper with a lightning bolt on it.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

We learned a lot at Sen. Joe Manchin's blockbuster hearing on the EV tax credit — though little of the news had to do with the program.

Why it matters: In addition to Inflation Reduction Act chatter, lawmakers and officials left tea leaves on LNG exports, DOE loans, antitrust policy and more. Here are three takeaways from the year's first key energy hearing…

👩‍⚖️ Court challenge: Manchin laid out what he believes is the basis for a potential future lawsuit against how the administration implemented the IRA tax credit language (which the senator helped draft).

  • He claims mineral content percentages that the statute says must be met to qualify for the credit have "effectively been cut in half" and has "delayed at least two years" the ban on minerals and materials from China and other "foreign entities of concern."

Manchin added that he'll support anyone who challenges the program in court with an amicus brief to "set the record straight on the bill Congress actually wrote."

  • After the hearing, Manchin updated reporters on his request for GAO to review whether the EV credit guidance can be undone with the Congressional Review Act: "They said they're going to give it to me pretty quickly."

🏗️ LNG export fight: Sen. Bill Cassidy pressed DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk over reports the Energy Department is reviewing the public interest determination for approving new LNG export terminals and expansions of existing sites.

  • Turk didn't speak directly on the LNG export determination but said the agency feels "the responsibility for the public interest determination in everything we do to continuously update and improve our analysis" to reflect all factors and new information.
  • Cassidy fumed: "The fact that DOE is going through a multi-year analysis [suggests] the paralysis is actually the desired result of the analysis."

⛏️ Mum on mining loans: Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Turk during the hearing that her office heard that mining infrastructure is "not eligible" for DOE's loan program.

  • After Turk said the agency is "trying to be [as] creative as possible" with "the tools and authorities that we've got," Murkowski flat-out asked if mining projects are eligible.
  • The DOE official demurred: "If there's any change in authorities we need, we'd be eager to work with you and the chairman."
  • Murkowski then left the door open to legislation explicitly giving loan programs office authority to support a mine.
  • "What I'm taking away from this exchange is that you can't assure me the mine projects are actually eligible for DOE loans," she said.

😷 Get well, Wally: Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo appeared at the hearing remotely because he tested positive for COVID.

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