Granholm questioned about fossil fuels, energy jobs at confirmation hearing


UNDATED (WOOD) — The U.S. Senate on Wednesday held a confirmation hearing for former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has been chosen by President Joe Biden to be U.S. energy secretary.

Granholm was questioned on everything from drilling for oil on public lands to reducing greenhouses gasses and laid out her vision for the U.S. Department of Energy if she is confirmed.

“I want to talk about three missions,” she said. “First is the security of America through the National Nuclear Security Administration and the clean up of that cold war legacy, ensuring that we can protect out nation. Second, supporting the amazing, amazing scientific work that’s being done at the DOE’s 17 national laboratories and other facilities across the country, including on climate change and emissions reductions. And third, taking that research to scale, deploying it to create jobs for Americans.”

Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., asked about Biden’s plan for a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, citing a similar plan in California that has lead to higher costs and what he called an unreliable power supply. He and senators from other energy-producing states are concerned about fossil fuels being replaced and their states’ economies suffering as a result.

In response, Granholm seemed to suggest that environmental goals could be achieved without the elimination of the jobs that are supported by that industry.

“…The important goal, I think, for this committee is, as well, the 100% net-carbon zero emissions,” she said. “And I like to talk about emissions because I think that is something that technology can address that keeps people employed.”

Granholm was also questioned about some energy firm startups in Michigan that failed during her term after heavy investment of federal and state tax money. Granholm said she was proud of her energy record as governor and said she hopes that “we don’t look at some failures along the way as a reason not to invest” in new energy technology.

A replay of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.

Granholm served two terms as Michigan’s governor from 2003 to 2011 and should play an important role in the implementation of Biden’s clean energy initiatives. A major portion of those initiatives rely on automotive giants to get on board — automotive giants that are headquartered in Michigan and Granholm worked with while serving as governor.

On top of having experience with Michigan’s automotive giants, Granholm also has a history when it comes to clean energy initiatives.

In 2007, she proposed and signed the ‘No Worker Left Behind’ Act, which was designed to offer two years of free training or community college to workers who were displaced or unemployed due to changing job trends. Since August of 2007, over 130,000 people have enrolled in the program and according to a study conducted on the program in 2009, over 72% of those enrolled had found work or retained their positions.

In 2008, Granholm passed a renewable portfolio standard requiring ten percent of Michigan’s energy to come from clean energy sources by 2015 and 25 percent by 2025. As of 2019, Michigan had more than 11,000 jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Her confirmation as energy secretary seems likely.

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