Climate Ally Jennifer Granholm Confirmed as Energy Secretary

by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer

Yesterday, the Senate voted to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy. Granholm, who has positive relationships with both Democrats and Republicans, has committed to implementing science-based policy as part of President Biden’s “Build Back Better” plan. In keeping with President Biden’s plan to pack his cabinet with diverse appointees, Granholm is only the second woman to fill the role in an acting capacity.

Why This Matters: Granholm’s approach to tackling climate change is very much in line with that of President Biden: jobs, opportunity, and economic development. Her predecessors under the Trump administration were openly hostile to climate action. Rick Perry, the first of Trump’s two energy secretaries, wanted to abolish the department he was in charge of altogether and spouted harmful conspiracy theories about climate science. Granholm on the other hand was busy building Michigan back better by diversifying its economy with green energy jobs and reviving the auto industry during the Great Recession of 2008.

During her hearing, Granholm showed refreshing enthusiasm about meeting the goals of the Paris agreement and reaching net-zero emissions.

I want to push on carbon management solutions to get to the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050,” she said. “There is a series of technologies that the Department of Energy is working on to reduce and manage carbon emissions and I think that is an important piece of the energy mix to make us energy secure and to have us reach the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Granholm’s confirmation is a return to science, a return to sanity, and a return to compassion in the Energy Department.

More Than Just Energy: The role of the Department of Energy covers a variety of responsibilities that impact our environment greatly. Most prominently, the department oversees the nation’s energy supply, distribution, and use. After a year of record-breaking hurricanes and wildfires, and a snowstorm that wiped out power throughout Texas, it’s become obvious that the $35-billion per year department must make some changes.

Additionally, the department oversees the environmental cleanup of nuclear sites. The debate of how best to dispose of nuclear waste has been raging for years, leaving the nation with only a handful of partially effective solutions to work with. One of the most controversial is Yucca Mountain, which was designated in 1987 as the initial storage site for all of the nation’s used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes. Experts expect the site to reach its capacity for nuclear waste, 77,000 metric tons, by 2036, and Indigenous groups, environmentalists, and even the state of Nevada have protested its use. Granholm has expressed her opposition to the project during her confirmation saying, “we have to maybe look at what the Blue Ribbon Commission did on this, which was to engage in some consensus-based strategies that allow us to determine where that waste should go.”


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