Granholm becomes US energy secretary

26 February 2021

Jennifer Granholm has been sworn as the 16th US secretary of energy. The former governor of Michigan said the US Department of Energy has the solutions to tackle the climate emergency and the tools to put America on an "irreversible path" to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Granholm, on the left, was sworn in yesterday by Vice President Kamala Harris (Image: US Government)

"When President Biden asked if I would take the helm at the Department of Energy (DOE), I couldn't get the word 'yes' out fast enough. I'm an energy policy wonk who has long been in awe of the groundbreaking research and innovation that goes on at DOE, and I spent the couple of months after my nomination doing a deep dive into all that our agency has accomplished in their relatively short history," Granholm said in an article published by the department yesterday.

The climate emergency is intensifying, "ravaging" the planet with "cataclysmic" storms, wildfires, droughts and floods that cost billions to clean up, and putting national security at risk, she said.

"We're going to have to fix this. It's on this generation, this administration, you and me, to get climate change under control so that we can protect this planet for our children. That's why President Biden has laid out the boldest climate agenda in our nation's history, one that will require robust collaboration across the federal government, the 50 states, and the private sector. And it will rely on the power of science and innovation at a scale the world has never seen before," she said.

President Joe Biden has tasked the DOE with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, she said. "For DOE, that means developing and deploying the technologies that will deliver a clean energy revolution … DOE scientists and engineers have been laying the groundwork for this movement for years, and now we're going to kick things into hyperdrive. Whether it's solar, hydropower, carbon capture, or batteries, the clean energy technologies of the future are going to bring you affordable, reliable power, and protect our planet in the process."

Granholm was confirmed as energy secretary following a Senate vote of 64-35. After the vote, Senator Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm had the leadership skills, vision and "compassion for people" required to lead the DOE. "I know from personal experience that she will work with and listen to members on both sides of the aisle on the issues critical to our nation," he said.

Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the US Nuclear Energy Institute, said Granholm will play a pivotal role in furthering Biden's 'Build Back Better' agenda through climate-focused programmes essential to deploying more carbon-free technologies, clean energy job creation and a fully decarbonised economy.

"We look forward to working with the incoming energy secretary to continue our progress towards securing a carbon-free future for America, which includes and appropriately values nuclear energy, alongside other carbon-free energy sources," she said.

Judi Greenwald, executive director of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance, said the non-profit think tank is looking forward to working with Granholm and her team on the development, demonstration and deployment of the advanced nuclear reactors to ensure the US can meet its emissions reductions goals while powering a strong economy and creating good jobs. "We're hopeful that under Secretary Granholm, the US Department of Energy will drive technology-inclusive, zero-carbon innovation forward, for the benefit of all Americans," she said.

Granholm made no mention of nuclear power (which provides 55% of the USA's carbon-free energy) in the article, nor in a video address released to coincide with the swearing-in.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News