We’ve loved seeing all the great climate and environmental justice folks appointed or nominated for positions across the Biden-Harris Administration, and we were particularly excited to see former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm nominated for Secretary of Energy.
Granholm brings a wealth of relevant experience, including her efforts to revitalize the struggling U.S. auto industry during the Great Recession. It’s clear from her confirmation hearing that she supports RD&D efforts across all clean energy technologies and understands the unique challenges facing nuclear energy. Read more to see her answers that caught our eye.
"If confirmed as Secretary, I will work with the Department to continue to support the research, development, and demonstration of technologies to preserve our existing [nuclear] fleet, deploy advanced reactor technologies, and expand nuclear energy to markets beyond electricity to meet our carbon reduction goals in the United States and globally."
Granholm was asked several times about nuclear and she repeated her support for investing in not just R&D but demonstrations and deployment, both to aid the existing fleet and for advanced nuclear technologies. When pushed by Senator Steve Daines of Montana on whether Granholm would prioritize wind and solar over other fuels, she responded that all energy sources would be needed to reach the U.S. net zero by 2050 goal and that she is “particularly excited by the opportunities for game-changing advances in carbon capture and advanced nuclear technologies in the next several years.”
Two Senators asked questions about disadvantaged communities and the impacts of a clean energy transition, both for fossil-dependent communities and those paying a high price for energy. Both times Granholm highlighted President Biden’s pledge to invest 40% of the resources to mitigate climate change to historically disadvantaged communities and that she was “enthusiastic” in making sure DOE lived up to this commitment. Granholm also committed that DOE would be an active and vocal member of the Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.
Several senators asked about the U.S. diminished role in international nuclear markets, and the concerning rise of Russia and China. Granholm offered a few detailed responses that focused on a whole-of-government approach, where DOE would work with other agencies and Congress “to empower the U.S. nuclear industry to develop, demonstrate, and export American-made nuclear technology.”
Granholm committed to following Congress’ direction to create a Uranium Reserve. When asked about the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, Granholm answered that she supported the recommendations in President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission, including consent-based siting, and would examine them further.
Some themes that were woven throughout all of her answers that we are super excited about are Gov. Granholm’s commitment to creating and supporting good, fair-wage jobs in all communities; her focus on deploying or developing the technologies needed to transition to a clean economy as fast as possible; and her motivation to ensure communities that no one will get left behind in the clean energy transition.
You can read her full responses to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Questions for the Record.
Or watch the full committee hearing.
Also, proud to see another University of California Berkeley alum. Go Bears!