Jennifer Granholm Confirmed as Energy Secretary

The Senate confirmed former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as the Energy Secretary for the Biden administration on February 25, 2021, by a 64–35 vote.

Energy infrastructure

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Granholm was the first woman elected as a governor in Michigan in 2002 and served two terms in that capacity. Before that position, she was the first woman elected as Michigan’s attorney general in 1998.

Granholm is credited with diversifying Michigan’s economy, strengthening its automotive and manufacturing industries, and adding emerging clean energy sectors after the decline the state saw in its economy during the Great Recession.

“Today, one-third of all North American electric vehicle battery production takes place in Michigan, the state is one of the top five states for clean energy patents, and 126,000 Michiganders were employed in the clean energy sector prior to COVID-19,” according to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) press release.

After her terms as governor of Michigan, she became a Distinguished Professor of Practice in the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, “focusing on the intersection of law, clean energy, manufacturing, policy, and industry,” according to the DOE. “She also served as an advisor to the Clean Energy Program of the Pew Charitable Trusts.”

She is the second woman ever appointed to lead the DOE, following Hazel O’Leary, who led the department during the Clinton administration from 1993 to 1997.

“I am humbled by the faith President Biden has placed in me to lead this incredible team at the Department of Energy,” said Granholm, according to the DOE. “DOE is powered by brilliant scientists, engineers, and energy policy experts who are the very best for the job we’ve been tasked with: to develop and deploy new clean energy technologies that will achieve the Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and secure our nation’s future. I am so ready to work alongside them as we kickstart America’s clean energy revolution, create millions of good-paying union jobs, and deliver benefits to American workers and communities across the nation.”

In a blog post, Granholm described herself as “an energy policy wonk who has long been in awe of the groundbreaking research and innovation that goes on at DOE….”

What Does the DOE Do?

According to AllGov, “The … [DOE] is responsible for advancing the national, economic and energy security of the United States through the implementation of policies regarding nuclear power, fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources. The DOE promotes scientific and technological innovation in all of the aforementioned energy sectors and is charged with the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex. One of its key duties is the formulation and implementation of the National Energy Policy. This comprehensive and wide ranging document covers energy challenges facing the US; impacts of high energy prices; protecting America’s environment; increasing energy conservation and efficiency; increasing domestic energy supplies; increasing America’s use of renewable and alternative energy; America’s energy infrastructure; and enhancing national energy security and international relations.”

Granholm’s Mission

Granholm’s blog post states that Biden has tasked the DOE “with delivering a cornerstone of his bold plan: the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. For DOE, that means developing and deploying the technologies that will deliver a clean energy revolution. And for you (the American people), that means cheap, abundant clean power delivered on a modern energy grid that is resilient and reliable.

“DOE scientists and engineers have been laying the groundwork for this movement for years, and now we’re going to kick things into hyperdrive.”