As the 115th U.S. Congress wound down, the U.S. Senate voted Jan. 2 to confirm a wave of nominees for energy and environmental positions within the Trump administration.
By voice vote, Daniel Simmons was confirmed as assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE. Simmons had served as EERE's principal deputy assistant secretary.
Prior to joining the DOE, Simmons served as vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank that promotes free-market policies and opposes government efforts "to correct 'market failure' in energy markets."
While working at the institute, Simmons took a critical stance on renewable energy. He testified before Ohio lawmakers in 2013 against the state's alternative energy standard, saying renewable resources "cannot be counted on to produce electricity when needed." He also said states with renewable portfolio standards have higher residential electricity prices than those without and criticized federal tax credits for wind and solar power.
"Despite years of subsidies for wind, solar, and other renewables, these technologies are still not competitive with coal, natural gas, and other affordable, reliable sources of electricity generation," Simmons told state legislators at the time.
But during his Senate confirmation hearing in June 2018, Simmons praised the DOE national laboratories' research into renewable energy and efficiency and said EERE would continue working to lower costs and improve grid integration for those technologies.
In addition to Simmons, the Senate confirmed other energy and environmental agency officials Jan. 2. Those nominees included Mary Neumayr as head of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality and Teri Donaldson as the DOE's inspector general. The Senate also confirmed Kelvin Droegemeier as director of the DOE's Office of Science and Technology Policy and Alexandra Dapolito Dunn as assistant administrator for toxic substances at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.