One of her priorities is expected to be the development of electric vehicle manufacturing
Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm speaks at a Senate hearing Wednesday. As previously reported, the focus for senators has been on the administration’s intention to compete with China in electric vehicle manufacturing.
From 2003 to 2011, Granholm served as governor of Michigan, which is one of the centers of auto manufacturing in the United States. Under her leadership, the state was able to secure $1.35 billion in federal funding for an electric car and battery companies.
As energy secretary, Granholm, 61, wants to step up efforts to help the U.S. compete with China in electric vehicles and green technologies such as advanced batteries, solar and wind power.
“We have to be leaders, not passive observers, or we will allow other countries, including China, to take over this market,” she said in an interview with ABC News last month.
If confirmed, Granholm would be the second woman in U.S. history to serve as energy secretary: the first was Hazel O’Leary in the 1990s. Since Biden announced his intention to nominate Granholm to the post, she has made few media appearances but said she has “delved deeply” into the department and praised the professionalism of the scientists there.
Senators are also expected to question her about the Office of Loan Programs (LPO), which was created in 2009 under former President Barack Obama. The office made loans to successful companies such as Tesla, but some Republicans criticized it for supporting Solyndra, a bankrupt solar energy company.
The LPO has more than $40 billion available for loans and guarantees for advanced technology development. That funding has not been used under the Trump administration. About $18 billion could be available for direct loans to produce cleaner cars, but Congressional approval would likely be needed to approve funding for more radical changes.
Granholm is also likely to be questioned about other areas of the department, including oversight of 17 national laboratories, the nuclear weapons arsenal, and the strategic oil reserve.
Typically, energy secretaries promote the interests of fossil fuel companies, but since Biden has promised to make combating climate change a priority of his administration, Granholm will probably pay less attention to the oil and gas industry than her predecessors, Dan Bruyette and Rick Perry.