Energy & Environment

Senate confirms former Michigan governor Granholm as Energy secretary

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Jennifer Granholm to lead the Energy Department, making her the latest Cabinet nominee to secure confirmation this week.

She was confirmed in a 64-35 vote, with 14 Republicans joining all 50 Senate Democrats in supporting her nomination.

Granholm, who served as governor of Michigan from 2003-2011, will be tasked with helping President Biden transition the U.S. toward clean energy as part of his goal to put the country on a path toward carbon neutrality by 2050.

Her supporters have praised the work she did on jobs and clean energy in Michigan.

“I saw how she handled the difficult challenges facing her during the Great Recession, when the bottom dropped out of the auto industry in her state,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “She helped save the domestic auto industry; she diversified Michigan’s economy; she brought in new investment in new industry and she created new jobs, leaving no worker behind.”

“She has the leadership skills, the vision and the compassion … to face the climate challenge and at the same time preserve our energy security, protect our national security, clean up the Cold War legacy and preserve our scientific and technological prowess,” he added in a floor speech ahead of the vote.

After her confirmation, Granholm tweeted: “I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!”

Some Republicans remain skeptical of her and have raised concerns on the impact of the Biden administration’s agenda on the fossil fuel industry.

“President Biden has declared war on American energy and American energy workers,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said on the Senate floor. “I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of Energy.”

Both Biden and Granholm have stressed they want the transition toward clean energy to create new jobs in various sectors of the economy.

The agency Granholm is set to manage has a broad portfolio that includes the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. During her January hearing, Granholm said her priorities would be ensuring U.S. national security and supporting scientific work at national labs that extends to work on climate change.

Pressed by Republicans on fossil fuels, Granholm said it is a “good thing” that the U.S. is the world’s largest oil and natural gas producer, and expressed support for still-developing carbon capture and storage technology to produce those fuels in a cleaner manner.

In announcing Granholm as his nominee, Biden touted her record on clean energy and jobs during her time as Michigan’s governor. 

“Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business and labor to promote [a] clean energy future,” Biden said in December.

The Senate has been working to confirm Biden’s nominees, though many have not yet received a vote.

Officials who have been confirmed include Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Updated at 1:57 p.m.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Antony Blinken Avril Haines Cabinet member Denis McDonough energy secretary Janet Yellen Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden Joe Manchin John Barrasso Lloyd Austin Pete Buttigieg Senate confirmation Tom Vilsack

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