BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – President-elect Joe Biden has indicated he wants to chart a new course for sustainable energy in this country. And by selecting Jennifer Granholm as his nominee for Secretary of Energy, he has chosen someone who isn’t afraid to be high-profile.
Granholm has been teaching courses on clean energy and government policy at Cal’s Goldman School of Public Policy. Before becoming a professor at Cal, Granholm was Michigan Attorney General and eventually, a two-term Governor of the state.
Granholm first worked with then-Vice President Biden to help rescue Michigan’s auto industry in President Barack Obama’s first term. As her public profile continued to rise she became a political commentator on CNN and eventually hosted her own cable news show, “The War Room.”
UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Professor Daniel Kammen, a friend and colleague of Granholm, said her grasp of technology and politics makes her a perfect fit for the job.
“She really understands the complexities of big institutions,” Kammen said. “The Department of Energy has 14,000 employees and its right at the center of the Biden-Harris agenda.”
That agenda calls for a $2 trillion energy initiative, designed to make America greener and more energy secure. Kammen said it will expand solar and wind energy and increase the number of electric vehicles from the current 1 million to 63 million by the end of the decade.
“Energy technologies from my physics perspective are really cool but she gets it in terms of the human benefits, of investing in communities, of working with Detroit, of making this about jobs,” Kammen said.
That has been Granholm’s approach, tying environmental advances to economic growth, and competing with other nations that are already doing it.
“This is the moment for the US to rapidly get back in the saddle,” Kammen said, “to not only clean our system but also to really reap all the benefits of those jobs.”
In a notable TED talk in 2013, Granholm agreed.
“We can get in the game or not,” she said at the time. “We can be at the table, or we can be on the table. And I don’t know about you, but I prefer to dine.”