Today, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Frank Lucas sent a second follow-up letter to the Department of Energy reiterating the Committee’s demand for information relating to a $200 million grant awarded to a company with well-known ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This is the third request the Committee has sent DOE since December 2022. The second request, sent in January 2022, received an interim response, noting the DOE would not provide more information on the status of the grant awards until a certain review phase had been completed.
Sparking the original concern was an October 2022 battery grant awarded to Microvast, a manufacturing company operating primarily from China. The $200 million funding for this grant was used from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and was directed to give priority to entities that would not export recovered critical materials to or use battery material supplied by or originating from a foreign entity of concern, including China.
“The Department’s lack of sufficient guardrails to protect federal research dollars and inability to provide an adequate and timely response to the Science Committee’s good faith inquiries escalates our serious concerns about the Department’s research security practices,” Lucas wrote. “It has been more than three months since we first raised this issue to the Department and nearly five months since the Department announced the grants in question.
"It is deeply troubling that the Department has not been able to communicate any information that explains its vetting process in adequate detail or demonstrates that sufficient guardrails are in place to ensure that companies that receive awards do not transfer funding or technology to China and are not subject to undue influence by the CCP. This information is critical, not only for oversight of the awards announced in October, but to ensure that DOE has appropriate safeguards in place for the billions of dollars in new taxpayer funding it was given in recent legislation. If DOE cannot confirm that it has thorough processes in place to protect its awards from exploitation by the CCP, future award announcements may also be cause for Congressional concern.”
Lucas once again urged DOE to immediately pause any further funding for this program, and to provide the requested documents no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 22, 2023