Grassley Opening Statement at Budget Hearing on Big Oil

“Democrats would rather accuse oil companies of conspiracy and raise gas prices than work with Republicans to write a budget or acknowledge the unpopularity of their many climate policy proposals.”

Prepared Opening Statement by Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Ranking Member, Senate Budget Committee
Hearing on “Denial, Disinformation, and Doublespeak: Big Oil’s Evolving Efforts to Avoid Accountability for Climate Change”
Wednesday, May 1, 2024


Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to start by airing some disappointments I have regarding the process of this hearing and underlying documents. When I was Chairman of the Finance Committee, during my Biden investigation, I ensured that Ranking Member Wyden possessed investigative records as they were produced to the committee. I also ensured his staff had access to the Trump Justice Department’s classified facility to review records. 

When I was Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee last Congress, Chairman Durbin ensured that my staff possessed records during his Trump investigation. Those are examples of how I’ve handled investigations, and what was expected, over the decades.

Regarding the matter before us today, since August of last year, and at times after that, my staff have asked the majority staff about possessing records and whether they’d issue a report. 

My staff never received an answer.

This past Sunday – eight months later – we finally received a copy of those records. Those records were obtained from House Democrats.

On Tuesday morning, the majority issued a joint staff report with those House Democrats.

The majority failed to inform the minority they were working with House Democrats on a report.

And the Washington Post published a story on this report before I received it from majority staff. So, you gave the report to outside interests before giving it to members of the committee.

The majority could’ve been transparent with the minority many months ago, as is the normal course of business.

You chose not to do so.

This unfortunate series of non-transparent events has undone years of investigative precedent.

Process matters. Equitable treatment matters. 

The majority has now created new investigative precedent. And, I will keep that in mind as my investigations move forward.

Now, for the sixteenth time, the Budget Committee is holding a hearing related to climate change rather than our nation’s dismal fiscal outlook. As I’ve said in the previous 15 hearings, the Budget Committee ought to focus on the budget – plain and simple.

While this committee continues to ignore our unprecedented debt and deficits, they’re top of mind for my constituents back home in Iowa.

Over the break, I held 10 county meetings. In each and every one, Iowans voiced their dismay at the state of our nation’s finances. They’re furious about Congress’ utter lack of attention to our bloated federal budget – as they should be. 

Just last week, the Commerce Department released its economic update for the first quarter of 2024. This update obliterates the Biden administration’s fake talking points of a strong economy with inflation contained.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation ticked higher and now stands nearly double their two percent inflation target.   

At the same time, the economy grew far slower than expected, registering its weakest performance since the first quarter of 2022.

The Fed now finds itself between a rock and a hard place. The economy is weakening, but surging inflation requires the Fed to maintain interest rates higher for longer, risking an era of stagflation.

Left unchecked, our mounting national debt will increasingly put upward pressure on interest rates and inflation. This spells disaster for our economy and for the American consumer’s pocketbook.

Interest on the national debt is already projected to cost the federal government more this year than what’s spent on national defense. Now, higher than previously expected interest rates could cost us hundreds of billions more in interest on the national debt.

Meanwhile, hardworking Americans will find themselves priced out of the American dream of home ownership thanks to sky high mortgage rates. At the same time, embedded inflation means they’ll find it increasingly hard to make ends meet. 

It’s no wonder Iowans are frustrated with Washington D.C.’s lack of attention to our nation’s fiscal problems.   

So, yes, the Budget Committee should focus on the budget.

Climate legislation isn’t referred to the Budget Committee. This committee doesn’t legislate climate change policy.

Democrats would rather accuse oil companies of conspiracy and raise gas prices than work with Republicans to write a budget or acknowledge the unpopularity of their many climate policy proposals.

What’s worse is they assume the American people who don’t want expensive and burdensome climate regulations are too dumb to think for themselves.

I can’t say what the fossil fuel industry has or hasn’t done, especially in the two days that the Democrats have given me to review their thousands of pages of so-called evidence. But I have a long record of disagreeing with and tangling with big oil over various issues, from ethanol to tax policy.

But, it’s also undeniable that fossil fuels are critical to our own energy security and the energy security of our allies.

We just appropriated $95 billion for a national security supplemental package to arm Ukraine to defend itself against Putin, bolster Taiwan’s defenses to deter Chinese aggression and restock Israel’s air defense capabilities.

I’m proud to have voted for this package. I also want to congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, and Senator Risch on the inclusion of your REPO for Ukrainians Act in this package. I strongly support your efforts to ensure Russian assets are repurposed for Ukrainian humanitarian assistance and reconstruction.

Our nation and our allies need a stable and secure fossil fuel supply to stand up to the world’s authoritarian dictators.

Demonizing fossil fuels in the name of climate change won’t bolster our or our allies’ national security.

And this committee’s failure to address our dire fiscal situation certainly won’t help either. 

This is why I’ve invited two international energy experts to testify on the state of global energy security.

Welcome, Dr. Cohen and Mr. Ratner. I hope your testimony turns this spectacle into a learning opportunity.

And welcome to all of today’s witness.