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Energy Workforce Expresses Concern Over Appointment to the Federal Reserve

Last week, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a hearing to consider three nominations, including Sarah Bloom Raskin to be Vice Chairman for Supervision and a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Raskin, who has served for years in the banking and financial regulation sector, most recently as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and as a Governor of the Federal Reserve Board, was nominated to this position by President Biden on January 14. 

This position holds the powerful responsibility of regulating and overseeing U.S. financial institutions and, like all positions at the Federal Reserve, is considered to be strictly non-political. Past comments in op-eds and media interviews have raised concerns about Raskin’s ability to serve as a neutral regulator in this powerful role, specifically towards the oil and natural gas industry.

During last week’s confirmation hearing, Senators questioned her about comments she made on disincentivizing investment in oil and natural gas to counteract climate change. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA) addressed specific statements regarding oil and natural gas investments. “Right up to very recent times, it seems very clear to me that you believe that climate change is a very, very dire, imminent threat, that it will be catastrophic … that for those reasons, it is necessary and appropriate for financial regulators, including the Fed to allocate capital away from those companies that are contributing the most to the carbon in the atmosphere,” Sen. Toomey said.

Raskin responded to Sen. Toomey’s question with a commitment that she would not use this position for political motives. “It is inappropriate for the Fed to make credit decisions and allocations based on choosing winners and losers,” Raskin said. “Banks choose their borrowers. The Fed does not. It is inappropriate for the Fed to choose winners and losers and to do so is not the proper institutional role of the Fed. That is, as I said, a cardinal principle of Fed supervision.”

Energy Workforce joined a group of 41 allied oil and natural gas trade associations to voice concerns over her nomination, in a letter submitted to Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-PA) on January 28.  

The letter expressed concerns that Raskin “is a strong advocate for debanking the very industry that powers America. Her multiple public statements indicate an agenda at odds with the President’s goal of providing Americans with reliable, affordable energy.” The letter also asked the committee to consider that “her public writings and speeches advocate for using Federal Reserve stress tests and other regulatory levers as a means to reshape the entire financial system in ways Congress never intended” while debating this nomination.

Raskin’s nomination will need to be approved by a majority vote of the Senate Banking Committee before proceeding to a final confirmation vote by the entire Senate.

The full text of the joint trades letter can be found here.  A recording of the nomination hearing can be found here.

If your company is interested in this issue and working with the Council’s Government Affairs Committee, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley.

Deidre Kohlrus, Director Government Affairs, writes about industry-specific policies for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Energy Workforce newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, activities and more.


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