U.S. Senate confirms Granholm as Energy secretary

Then-General Motors Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre (left to right), Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano look on as the first Chevrolet Volt battery comes off the line at the GM Brownstown Battery plant in Brownstown Township, Michigan Thursday, January 7, 2010. | U.S. Department of Energy via Flickr Public Domain
Updated, 6:02 p.m., 2/25/21

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate on Thursday in a 64-35 vote confirmed former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to run the Department of Energy.

She is the second woman to lead the $35 billion agency. Vice President Kamala Harris swore in Granholm several hours after the Senate confirmation vote. Her husband, daughter and son-in-law attended, according to White House pool reports. White House officials said that Granholm was sworn in on a Bible from her father, who died last year.

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm is sworn in as U.S. energy secretary, Feb. 25, 2021 | Screenshot

In a tweet, Granholm thanked the Senate for confirming her, adding that she is excited to start her new role.

“I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis,” she said.

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, gave his support for Granholm on the Senate floor, and said he was looking forward to seeing how she incorporates climate change and advances energy technology in U.S. energy policy.

“I could not be more excited to say that we will have a fellow Michigander leading the Department of Energy,” he said. “It is clear that she also recognizes what must be done to advance our nation’s energy interests because she has already achieved results in Michigan.”

In her confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Granholm vowed to promote clean energy jobs. The committee voted 13-4 to advance her nomination to the Senate floor.

As the Biden administration aims to move toward reducing use of fossil fuels in an effort to combat climate change, GOP lawmakers have been critical, arguing that will result in job losses.

Granholm vows to create new jobs, cleaner solutions as Energy secretary

“I am obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America,” Granholm told senators during her hearing.

Granholm has also expressed concern over the U.S. electrical grid system, arguing that there is a need for swift innovation.

“America’s electricity grid is simply not able to handle extreme weather events,” she wrote in a tweet. “Whether it’s wildfires in California or snowstorms in Texas, we need to upgrade our grid infrastructure ASAP.”

Some of those Republican senators who voted against her nomination included Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy of Louisiana; Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley of Iowa; Thom Tillis of North Carolina; Bill Hagerty and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee; Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt of Missouri; and Roger Marshall of Kansas.

Granholm was the first woman to serve as Michigan’s governor and is credited with helping shift the state toward clean energy jobs when the recession hit automakers.

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Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance. Before joining States Newsroom, Ariana covered public health and chemical policy on Capitol Hill for E&E News. As a Florida native, she's worked for the Miami Herald and her hometown paper, the Tampa Bay Times. Her work has also appeared in the Chicago Tribune and NPR. She is a graduate of the University of Florida.