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Who Is Jennifer Granholm? The Former Gov. Tapped As Biden’s Secretary of Energy

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Dec. 17 2020, Updated 11:09 a.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden continues to fill out his environment and climate staff positions, and his latest reported pick is Jennifer Granholm as the Secretary of Energy, a key Cabinet position with a lot of power to shape our nation’s energy future. Climate activists and groups applauded the nomination, as Granholm has a surprisingly clean record when it comes to advocating for renewable energy and against fossil fuels. 

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Keep reading to learn more about Biden’s reported pick to lead the Department of Energy come 2021.

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Source: Getty Images
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Biden has tapped Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy.

On Dec. 15, news broke that Biden planned to nominate former EPA chief Gina McCarthy as the senior adviser on climate change, Ali Zaidi as her deputy, and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy, Politico reported.

As leader of the Department of Energy, the secretary is supposed to lead the team working to address energy, environmental, and nuclear issues in the U.S. 

Transportation is a leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and to achieve Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the Secretary of Energy must work to significantly reduce emissions in the transportation sector — something that can only be done if we transition vehicles to run on electric and renewable power.

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Who is Jennifer Granholm?

Born in Canada, Granholm grew up in California, and after becoming an American citizen, Granholm moved to Michigan and clerked for Michigan's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. From 2003 to 2011, she served as the Democratic governor of Michigan; for four years before that, she was the state’s Attorney General. 

In recent years, Granholm has worked as a Senior Political Contributor for CNN. She also serves on the board of directors of Proterra, a company that designs and makes zero-emission buses, and Marinette Marine Corporation, a company that builds ships. 

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In her Twitter bio, Granholm proudly declares that she is an “advocate for clean energy and U.S. jobs,” and in 2016, she was quoted as saying, “We ought to be doing everything we possibly can to keep fossil fuel energy in the ground and developing the renewable side,” as per EcoWatch.

Jennifer Granholm is notably not linked to the fossil fuel industry.

Currently, Donald Trump’s Secretary of Energy is Dan Brouillette, the former VP of Ford Motor Company. In a refreshing change of pace, Grahholm does not have any ties to the fossil fuel industry. 

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That said, she does have notable ties to the auto industry — the electric car industry. These ties are definitely a good thing (assuming you care about the U.S. reducing its emissions), as Granholm will hopefully use these connections to help transition the U.S. auto industry away from fossil fuels and to renewable energy.

Climate activists applauded Granholm’s nomination.

“We are relieved that Biden chose to break from the past and pick a Secretary of Energy who does not have ties to fossil fuel industries,” Varshini Prakash, Executive Director of Sunrise Movement, tells Green Matters in a statement.

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“The importance of this pick cannot be understated: Former Governor Granholm is the first true clean energy advocate to lead the Department of Energy,” added Prakash, who also serves as a member of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. “Granholm has a deep understanding of industrial policy, has a long history of advocating for electric vehicles as well as a federal job guarantee, and is clear about the moral need to rapidly transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.”

“Jennifer Granholm is an experienced leader with a strong record of support for renewable energy and opposition to the disastrous Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines," Collin Rees of Oil Change U.S. said in a statement, as per EcoWatch.

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Jennifer Granholm would manage the nuclear weapons complex.

In addition to improving energy issues in the U.S., the Secretary of Energy is also responsible for managing the country’s nuclear weapons complex, alongside the Department of Defense. 

While the Department of Defense actually creates, deploys, and transports the nuclear weapons, Department of Energy is there to supervise every step of the development process.

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