Equilibrium & Sustainability

Granholm: Gas price struggle an ‘exclamation point’ for need to accelerate clean energy

Sharon Udasin

Golden, Colo. — The scramble to ease escalating gasoline prices around the globe is an “exclamation point” for the worldwide need to transition to renewable energy, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Wednesday.

“No one has ever weaponized access to the sun,” Granholm said, referring to the impacts the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had on oil. “No one has ever weaponized access to wind. The way we are energy secure is to build homegrown clean energy, and other countries are looking to that as well.”

Granholm was addressing journalists following a launch event for the Department of Energy’s $38 million investment in decarbonizing some of its national labs. The pilot initiative, called Net Zero Labs, will provide funds to four of the agency’s 17 laboratories, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., where the energy secretary was visiting.

Discussing the rise in gas prices, Granholm described it as a ubiquitous problem that is affecting not just the U.S. but nations around the world.

“Everybody realizes that gasoline is derived from oil, and oil is traded on a global market, and so every country in the world is facing this,” Granholm said.

In Singapore, the secretary continued, drivers are paying the equivalent of $8.50 per gallon and in Germany a similar amount — while she said U.K. residents are paying more than $6 per gallon and Canadians more than $5 per gallon.

“Every country is looking for ways to increase supply in the moment — in supply of oil so that we can stabilize,” she said.

For the U.S., those ways in the immediate term include tapping the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve as well President Biden’s call for domestic oil and gas companies to increase supplies, according to Granholm.

Asked by reporters the day before in Louisiana whether the U.S. was considering restricting petroleum exports, Granholm had said that “the president is not taking any tools off the table,” according to Reuters.

On Wednesday, however, she spoke mostly of renewable energy solutions. The secretary reiterated Biden’s calls for Congress to support clean energy tax credits, which were part of Democrats’ reconciliation package that failed in the Senate last year following Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) opposition. 

“These tax credits that will allow for the build out of supply chains as well as the clean energy generation itself — that is all part of the president’s strategy,” Granholm said.

Acknowledging that “global events are impacting how high the gas prices are,” she pointed out that this will not likely be a one-time scenario without long-term solutions.

“When China comes back, or opens up after COVID, people will be driving, that will be a pull on demand — you’ll see an upward pressure on prices,” she said. “When the EU [European Union] actually does ban Russian oil and gas, which they are contemplating doing, that too will create an upward pressure on prices because of the Russian oil that is pulled off the market.”1

“When the United States said we were not going to take Russian oil, that pulled oil off the market,” Granholm added. “So the question is, how do we replace that supply with trusted sources?

Tags Department of Energy gas prices Jennifer Granholm Jennifer Granholm Joe Biden

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