Energy Dept. nominee questions legality of Trump’s proposal for oil reserve

Dan R. Brouillette, senior vice president of government and industry relations at USAA.

Dan Brouillette, Rick Perry’s pick to be his number two at the Department of Energy, questioned the Trump administration’s proposal to sell off oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help balance the federal budget during a Senate hearing Thursday.

“The SPR was set up for a very specific reason… and the definitions and conditions under which it can be sold are very clearly defined,” he said. “I am not familiar with the discussion the administration has had, but as a general matter I would stand by the federal law.”

Under federal law, the president can only sell oil from the reserve if, “required by a severe energy supply interruption or by obligations of the United States under the international energy program.”

Brouillette, a San Antonio lobbyist with the military banking and insurance provider USAA, was nominated by President Donald Trump earlier this month to be deputy secretary of energy. In an appearance before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday, Democrats and Republicans repeatedly asked Brouillette to respond to Trump’s budget, which calls for a variety of cuts at the Department of Energy and other measures like selling off a portion of the Strategic Petroleum reserve to raise revenue.

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Asked by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louis., about Trump’s proposal to eliminate a federal program that helps fund commercial clean energy projects, Brouillette, said, “I was not part of the budget process.”

“I understand this was the president’s request to the Congress. But at the end of the day Congress will work, both the House and the Senate, to determine the final and appropriate numbers for these programs.”

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