UPDATE: Dec. 18, 2020: President-elect Joe Biden on Thusrday announced his selection of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead the Department of Energy as well as his picks to lead the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and other members of his climate and energy team.
- President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead the U.S. Department of Energy, Politico first reported. The news elicited cheers from clean energy advocates who say it is a sign the next administration will act aggressively on climate change and clean energy innovation.
- Biden is also expected to nominate Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama, to a new position overseeing domestic climate policy. Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been selected to become Secretary of Transportation.
- "The fact that we’ll have a new position overseeing national climate policy demonstrates that the incoming administration will pursue ambitious action," Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp said in a statement.
News of Biden's choices to lead climate policy and key agencies comes just two days after the electoral college certified the President-elect's victory, and advocates say it is a sign that energy and the environment will be a priority for the next administration.
"Biden’s nominees all have the stature, experience, and vision that America needs to rebuild the economy," Krupp said, including creating clean energy jobs, addressing pollution and climate change, and supporting equity. "These are brilliant choices," he said.
DOE's responsibilities cover the nation's nuclear program, including weapons and energy waste disposal, energy efficiency, research and grants. Some observers say the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will be significantly impacted by policy changes, while other areas will remain more consistent.
The decision to appoint Granholm to lead DOE "adds a critical voice to his all-government approach to combating the [climate] crisis," Lori Lodes, executive director of Climate Power 2020, said in a statement. The move is "a sign we can expect real climate action and clean energy innovation from this new administration," she said.
Granholm served two terms as Michigan's governor and is known for her staunch support of the automotive industry — which observers say could be an asset as the new administration attempts to boost the adoption of electric vehicles. Biden has called for the installation of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations as part of a plan to spend nearly $2 trillion on infrastructure.
Granholm "is a proven climate leader who will enter the role with a formidable task ahead," Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said in a statement.
DOE "needs to reorient its research and development agenda to find groundbreaking climate solutions and get them used widely," Nadel said. "It needs a day one, aggressive effort to update appliance standards and support stronger building energy codes."
Efficiency advocates charge the federal government has failed to review and update more than two dozen appliance standards, costing consumers billions of dollars every year. The failure has led to a pair of lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District.