Shiny Normal Thing! Ex-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm Is Your New, Badass Energy Secretary
Last week, the Senate confirmed former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as President Joe Biden's secretary of Energy. No reporters were able to dig up incriminating tweets and personally read them to senators. Hooray! Seriously, you'd think there would've have been a bigger battle over Granholm, a strong proponent of clean energy, than Neera Tanden, who was snarky on Twitter. But Granholm's whiteness might've distracted Republicans and pacified Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin, who drinks coal smoothies for breakfast.
Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he appreciates Granholm's pledge to "innovate, not eliminate" fossil fuels in the transition to a clean-energy economy.
"She understands when markets shift, and basically leaving people behind that had good jobs and now have a hard time just surviving, let alone living any quality of life they lived before," said Manchin, D-W.Va. "She understands that."
It's great when senators have faith in you!
Granholm is committed to delivering on the Biden administration's goal of net zero carbon emissions by no later than 2050. This freaks out Republicans who represent states economically dependent on carbon fuel, but Granholm is convinced that Americans with our opposable thumbs can adapt and invest in technologies that'll create low emission jobs and address climate change.
We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America. We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America. We can allow other countries to corner the market on carbon reduction technologies like carbon capture utilization and storage, or we can put our workers in good-paying jobs manufacturing and installing those solutions in America, and we can export them all as well.
Granholm's very good at making the rational case for a carbon-free future. I don't consider environmental activism a bad thing, but it's undeniable that Granholm benefits from not sounding like an activist.
Granholm is a sharp departure from her predecessor, Rick Perry, who forgot the Energy Department even existed during a 2011 GOP primary debate. He also wanted to eliminate the entire department as president (provided he could remember it). Perry, who was once governor of Texas, claimed that Texans would rather freeze to death in their homes before they'd let the federal government get its grubby hands on their pathetic, broke-down energy grid.
One thing is certain: America’s electricity grid is simply not able to handle extreme weather events. Whether it’… https://t.co/d0J98VdbTX— Jennifer Granholm (@Jennifer Granholm) 1613565006.0
Granholm, however, tweeted something sensible: "One thing is certain: America's electricity grid is simply not able to handle extreme weather events. Whether it's wildfires in California or snowstorms in Texas, we need to upgrade our grid infrastructure ASAP."
During a post-confirmation Q&A with the Washington Post, Granholm politely wondered if Texas really wants to keep going it alone, especially when half their senators migrate to Mexico whenever the temperature drops below 40 degrees.
A hand of friendship extended to Texas — to consider upgrading their connectivity to the national grid so that their neighbors can help them in times of crisis. [The grid in Texas has only minor links to the rest of the country, which some believe contributed to the problems there. It keeps the state free of federal electricity regulation.] Obviously, they have to winterize their energy system. I understand the desire to be independent. I get that that's the ethos in Texas. But in emergencies, it would be good to know there's backup.
Granholm was asked about the coal miners ... again. She described the many ways workers can transition to well-paying clean energy jobs that don't give them black lung. She also cited a Brookings Institution report that said “fossil communities" are perhaps ideal for “the deployment of wind and solar technologies." Granholm has taken Manchin at his word that he doesn't care about coal companies in general but coal miners in particular. She stands firm in her belief that these workers have a future in clean-energy sectors.
We think Granholm is gonna do great and not just because she can name the department she leads and doesn't want to destroy it. She far exceeds our “just get Rick Perry out of there" expectations.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."