Chair: Joe Manchin
Projected Grade for the 117th Congress
0 Investigative Oversight Hearings
16 Policy/Legislative Hearings
29 Total HearingsLast updated: Aug. 7, 2021, 12:26 p.m.
Constituted in its current form in 1977, the committee’s roots go back to the Louisiana Purchase and Congress’s need to deal with the newly acquired lands. Primarily through the Interior Department, the committee has jurisdiction over all public lands and the outer continental shelf, including the vast federal lands of the western United States, which account for about 40 percent of U.S. coal production. Federal OCS waters produce about 16 percent of U.S. oil, while onshore production is bit less than 10 percent of U.S. oil and natural gas. The committee traditionally attracts many of its members from the western states and Louisiana. It has jurisdiction over the Energy Department (also formed in 1977), which, besides oil and gas policy, is responsible for civilian nuclear power and nuclear waste. Besides energy development, the committee has a conservation mission through its jurisdiction over the National Parks, the National Wildlife Refuge System, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and historic sites. A predecessor committee produced in 1969 the National Environmental Policy Act, the so-called “Magna Carta of environmental law.” The committee has four subcommittees: energy; national parks; public lands, forests and mining; and water and power.
Consistent with the crucial importance of energy to the overall economy and energy prices to all consumers, and the many controversies over expanding drilling and mining on federal lands, the committee has over the years had a strong hearing schedule. During the 12-year period, it was busiest the in 111th (2009-10) and the 115th (2017-18) Congresses, each of which coincided with a new presidency. In between, activity subsided somewhat. In the 116th Congress, under Chair Lisa Murkowski (R, Alaska), the committee held 71 hearings, a drop from the 88 hearings held in the 115th Congress, but on pace when adjusted for the abbreviated timeline due to Covid-19. That figure is more than most other committees without a large calendar of nominations.
A majority of the committee’s hearings over the years have involved policy and legislative oversight. During the 12-year period, the greatest activity happened in the 111th Congress, the first of the Obama administration with Democrats in control of Congress. In the 116th Congress, under Chair Murkowski, the committee held 40 policy and legislative oversight hearings, the fewest of the five Congresses studied and a drop from the 49 held in the 115th Congress.
The committee does very little investigative oversight. In the past five Congresses, dating back 10 years, it held only five investigative oversight hearings. It held none in the 116th Congress, a distinction it shares with eight other Senate committees.
111th Congress: Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
112th Congress: Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
113th Congress: Ron Wyden (D-OR) [Mary Landrieu (D-LA)]
114th Congress: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
115th Congress: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
116th Congress: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
117th Congress: Joe Manchin (D-WV)
We are 39% of the way through the 117th Congress
Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources0 Investigative Oversight Hearings; 0% historical maximum
Number of Hearings
Committee Hearing Performance
* Adjustments have been applied so that committees' grades are not lowered by the constraints on hearings caused by Covid-19 [oversight-index.thelugarcenter.org/covid-19-statement]