“There is no question she is uniquely qualified to serve as secretary of Energy,” Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said ahead of the vote in the Senate. “As the governor of Michigan, she led our state through an economic crisis. She knows how to deal with multi-faceted challenges and has a documented record of strong leadership.”
Granholm’s nomination passed the Senate on a 64-35 vote.
The vote mirrors a bipartisan vote in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where only four Republicans opposed her. GOP lawmakers voting against Granholm have largely said they were doing so to protest Biden’s aggressive climate policies rather than any objection to Granholm personally.
Democrats have hailed the pick of a media-savvy national figure who memorably addressed the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and 2016. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding DOE, said in a statement she could think of no one better to lead the agency.
“Governor Granholm has spent her career — both inside and outside of public office — as a steadfast advocate for clean energy, and I have no doubt she will bring the same passion to this new role,” she said.
Granholm led Michigan during the worst of the recession in 2007 and 2008, and she touted that experience as valuable at her confirmation hearing last month as she looks to help the auto industry transition to an electric future. She emphasized her desire to use DOE funds to create jobs in places that are losing them in the transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.
“I am obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America,” she said. “I understand what it’s like to look into the eyes of men and women who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”
She took pains during the confirmation process to stress the Biden administration would not leave fossil fuel-producing communities behind as the country shifts to cleaner energy sources, vowing to create “a sort of SWAT team” to help communities impacted by that transition.
“I can’t tell you how important this is to me personally, that we don’t leave people behind,” Granholm said.
During her confirmation hearing, she also stressed that fossil fuel sources would remain a part of the domestic energy portfolio during the transition to clean energy and said the country should continue to invest in carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies.
“If we are going to get to net carbon zero emissions by 2050, we cannot do it without coal, oil, gas being part of the mix,” Granholm said.
Senate Energy Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) previously praised her nomination, noting the two were governors during the same period, and he praised how she handled the financial crisis in Michigan.
“Gov. Granholm demonstrated in Michigan the vision and leadership that the nation needs to tackle the challenges we now face at the national level – including tackling climate change while ensuring no worker is left behind and our energy security remains uncompromised,” he said. “We are very fortunate to have such a well-qualified and talented nominee for the important position of Secretary of Energy.”