Lucas seeks details from Energy Department on origins-of-COVID stance

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK), chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, led two Republican committee colleagues in requesting a classified briefing from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the origins of COVID-19.

“Our top priority is to keep Americans safe, healthy, and secure,” Rep. Lucas said in a statement. “After the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our country, it is only fair that we understand the origins of this deadly virus to best inform ongoing response efforts and better prepare us for future outbreaks.”

Rep. Lucas and his colleagues, including Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Jay Obernolte (R-CA), made a briefing request in a March 10 letter sent to DOE Deputy Secretary David Turk following publication of a Feb. 26 story in the Wall Street Journal that reported the department is no longer undecided about how COVID-19 originated and now thinks the virus likely originated in a lab located in Wuhan, China. 

The DOE reported its update in a classified intelligence report it provided to the White House and key members of Congress, according to the news article.

“The Department of Energy’s official change in position is a significant development, and if new scientific and intelligence metrics were utilized in arriving at this conclusion, then it is vital our committee members be made aware of that information as we conduct due oversight on this issue,” Rep. Obernolte said in a related statement.

On behalf of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Rep. Lucas and his colleagues requested information on why DOE changed its position and upon what scientific and intelligence metrics the department used to reach its conclusion. 

“I look forward to meeting with DOE leaders to learn more about their understanding of this issue,” Rep. Lucas said. “There has been a troubling lack of transparent, open discussion about COVID’s origins, so I hope we receive informative, factual answers on this critical question.”