Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Biden Plans To Nominate Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm As Energy Secretary

Photo caption:

Photo by Steve Jennings Getty Images for TechCrunch

Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm speaks onstage during a TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco in 2019.

Updated 6:39 p.m. ET

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to be the next secretary of energy, two sources familiar with transition discussions told NPR.

Granholm will bring experience in promoting clean-energy manufacturing as Biden tries to implement a sweeping $2 trillion climate plan.

The selection was first reported by Politico.

Granholm has been Michigan's attorney general and served two terms as governor until 2011. She was also an energy adviser to Hillary Clinton and is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley law school.

When Chrysler and General Motors faced bankruptcy during the Great Recession, Granholm worked with the Obama administration on a bailout that pushed them to invest in green technology such as battery storage. Since then, automakers have dramatically ramped up production plans for electric cars.

"Prior to the pandemic, clean energy was one of the fastest growing industries in Michigan, supporting over 125,000 jobs," she wrote in a recent The Detroit News op-ed. Now, she said, "low-carbon recovery measures" are needed to create jobs and help a middle class that's been battered by the pandemic's economic collapse.

Biden also frames his climate plan as an opportunity to create good jobs. The plan aims to make the country's power sector carbon neutral by 2035 but relies on technologies that haven't even been developed, or at least not yet commercialized.

Lisa Ramsden, senior climate campaigner with the environmental group Greenpeace USA, welcomed the news.

"Jennifer Granholm has forcefully spoken out against both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and advocated for shifting investment from oil and gas to renewable energy solutions," she said in a statement. "That's the kind of leadership the Department of Energy has been sorely missing."

Progressive climate activists had campaigned against another possible DOE nominee, Ernest Moniz, citing his ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The Department of Energy leads research into key areas experts consider essential to addressing climate change, including boosting electric vehicles and renewable energy, reducing the carbon footprints of buildings, capturing carbon from power plants and reinvigorating the nuclear power industry.

If confirmed by the Senate, Granholm will lead a DOE that is sometimes called "the department of everything" because its mandates extend beyond energy.

The agency was created in 1977 but has its roots in the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb during World War II.

The Energy Department portfolio includes managing the security of the country's nuclear weapons stockpile, 17 national labs across the country, renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and the cleanup of nuclear and chemical pollution leftover from the Cold War.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.