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Granholm vows to prioritize U.S. workers, EV manufacturing as energy secretary

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Jean Lotus
Energy Secretary-designate Jennifer Granholm is sworn in on Wednesday before the Senate energy and natural resources committee during a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jim Watson/UPI
Energy Secretary-designate Jennifer Granholm is sworn in on Wednesday before the Senate energy and natural resources committee during a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jim Watson/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm appeared in Congress on Wednesday to begin her confirmation as President Joe Biden's energy secretary.

Grahnolm was a key figure in aiding Michigan's auto industry after the financial crisis and recession a decade ago, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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"I believe that I was nominated by the president because I am obsessed with creating good paying jobs in America," Granholm told the Senate commerce, science and transportation committee.

"Having been the governor of Michigan when the automotive industry was on its knees, I understand what it's like to look in the eyes of men and women who have lost jobs through no fault of their own."

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Granholm said as governor of Michigan, she saw electric vehicles as a way to keep the state's industrial base strong.

"I knew we had to diversify, both inside and outside the auto industry," she said. "When I say 'inside' the auto industry, I mean we had to make car 2.0 -- the electric vehicle, including the guts to that vehicle, the battery. And diversifying outside the auto industry, we had to create jobs in new sectors."

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Granholm told the panel Tuesday that Michigan is one of the top five states for clean energy patents and had 126,000 residents working in the clean energy sector before COVID-19.

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She also said she supports alternate energy technology and expects it to be a $23 trillion global market by 2030.

"We can buy electric car batteries from Asia or we can make them in America," she said. "We can allow other countries to corner the market on carbon reduction technologies ... or we can put our workers in good paying jobs manufacturing and installing those solutions in America."

Michigan's Democratic governor for two terms between 2003 and 2011, Granholm stepped down from a position as adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and said she will divest from assets she holds in energy companies, if confirmed, including an electric bus company.

Granholm, 61, is also leaving a position as an analyst for CNN to take over the Energy Department.

In a filing with the Office of Government Ethics, Granholm said she has holdings in Duke Energy, Ford Motor Co. and First Solar, which have received research funding from the Department of Energy in the past.

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Before she was governor of Michigan, Granholm was the state's attorney general between 1999 and 2003.

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Housing and Urban Development Secretary. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki (L) looks on as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Fudge, the first Black woman to lead the department in decades, speaks at a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

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