While curating his new team of leaders nearly one month before inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden looked no further than the Great Lakes State for his energy secretary.
On Saturday, Dec. 19, Biden officially announced his nomination of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy while introducing appointees for his new climate and energy teams. Michigan’s first-ever female governor, who served from 2003 to 2011, will lead the Biden-Harris administration’s Department of Energy.
During his announcement speech Saturday, Biden said he was impressed by Granholm’s leadership in Michigan and Detroit, particularly during the Great Recession.
“In 2009, she faced the collapse of a defining industry of her state and our nation. But I saw firsthand how she responded. She bet on the autoworkers. She bet on the promise of a clean energy future.
Her leadership helped rescue the American auto industry, helped save one million American jobs, and helped bring Detroit back.
Governor Granholm is just like the state she led so effectively for eight years: hard-working, resilient, and forward-thinking. Someone not only capable of solving urgent problems, but someone who sees the opportunities of the future always with her eyes on the needs and aspirations of working people.
Throughout her career, she’s worked with states, cities, business, and labor to promote a clean energy future with new jobs, new industries, cleaner and more affordable energy. Now, I’m asking her to bring that vision and faith in America to the Department of Energy.”President-elect Joe Biden
Rumors of Granholm’s nomination, among others’, began circulating earlier in the week.
On Dec. 17, Granholm took to Twitter to express gratitude, essentially confirming rumors of her appointment.
I’m honored that President-elect @joeBiden has placed his faith in me as his Energy Secretary nominee. We have an opportunity to build back better while creating millions of jobs — we can do it!— Jennifer Granholm (@JenGranholm) December 18, 2020
Granholm, a Democrat, also served as Michigan’s Attorney General between 1999 and 2003.
Current Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed her support for the former governor’s new role.
“This is great news for our country and for the generations of Americans who will benefit from a clean energy advocate at the helm of the Department of Energy. Governor Granholm has been a fierce advocate for clean energy for decades. She spent eight years as governor working to build a more sustainable state, and focused Michigan’s economic recovery from the Great Recession on clean energy, which helped push national markets towards renewable technologies. She’s well suited to ensure that our economic recovery from COVID-19 prioritizes clean energy. In 2008, she partnered with the Department of Energy to award Michigan State University the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, which is educating the next generation of experts in energy and nuclear science. Governor Granholm also knows better than anyone how to make sure working people and organized labor are included in the clean energy transition. President-elect Biden has proven once again that he is committed to building an administration that represents the great diversity of our nation, with more women, more people of color, and more members of the LGBTQ+ community at the table. I look forward to working closely with Governor Granholm as she works to address the energy and climate challenges we face and build a more sustainable nation for generations to come. Let’s get to work.”Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer
President-elect Biden announced additional appointees for energy and climate positions on Saturday, including:
- Congresswoman Deb Haaland for Secretary of the Interior
- Michael Regan for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Brenda Mallory for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality
Biden’s selection of New Mexico Rep. Haaland is particularly historic, as she is now the first Native American to lead the powerful federal agency that has wielded influence over the nation’s tribes for generations.
Joe Biden wrapped up a team heavy on deal-makers and fighters to lead his climate effort Thursday, tasking it with remaking and cleaning up the nation’s transportation and power-plant systems, and as fast as politically possible.
While President-elect Biden’s picks have the experience to do the heavy lifting required in a climate overhaul of the U.S. economy, they also seem to be reassuring skeptics that he won’t neglect the low-income, working class and minority communities hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and climate change.
Progressives, energy lobbyists, environmental groups and auto workers welcomed Biden’s choice of popular former Mayor Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary. His picks of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for energy secretary and former Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy as leader of domestic climate efforts also were met with general applause.
Biden is also tapping environmental lawyer and Obama administration official Brenda Mallory to run the Council on Environmental Quality, the president-elect announced Thursday. The office oversees environmental reviews for virtually all major infrastructure projects and advises the president on major environmental issues. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to hold the position since its creation more than half a century ago.
Along with EPA nominee Michael Regan and Interior nominee Deb Haaland, Buttigieg, Granholm and McCarthy will be part of an effort to rapidly build and develop technology to retool the United States’ transportation and power grid systems from petroleum and coal to a greater reliance on solar, wind and other cleaner forms of energy.