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Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy: Why I’m not blindly jumping for joy

December 16, 2020

It has been less than 24 hours since the Biden camp has announced that former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm has been nominated as Secretary of Energy.

So far, the liberal establishment has been celebrating this news. This celebration includes many establishment environmental groups, like GreenPeace, which said: 

We’re glad that President-elect Biden is listening to the thousands of climate justice activists who opposed fossil fuel representatives like Ernest Moniz for Secretary of Energy. 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. That’s the kind of leadership the Department of Energy has been sorely missing.

Still, Granholm has her work cut out for her to prove she can lead the transition to a more just, democratic, clean energy system. The DOE’s role in COVID-related economic stimulus and the responsibility of carrying out Biden’s plan to make the nation’s electrical grid carbon-neutral by 2035 will both fall to Granholm. Climate destruction is only possible in a world in which racism is tolerated, and we need leaders in government who aren’t afraid to call out oil and gas corporations for their decades of unjust pollution. We’ll be watching to see if Granholm rises to the challenge.”

Now, the GreenPeace statement does conclude with a we’ll see sort of optimism, but what I find in this kind of celebratory announcement is no real assessment of what Granholm was doing, as it relates to energy issues, while she served two terms in office as Michigan’s Governor. Here are some reasons why I am not jumping for joy over the announcement about Granholm:

  • As Governor, Granholm worked with the Obama administration on the bailout of the auto industry. This led to forcing auto workers to accept further cuts to benefits and wages, but it also meant that the fossil fuel-dependent auto industry would get public money to continue to produce gas guzzling vehicles, thus normalizing fossil fuel consumption.
  • Granholm was the Governor in Michigan during the Enbridge Kalamazoo River oil crimes. Granholm was critical of the clean up efforts by Granholm, but there was NO call by the Granholm administration to shut down the Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan. Not calling for a shut down of Line 5 after the disastrous oil crime in the Kalamazoo River basin should give us all reason to not blindly celebrate the Biden nomination of Granholm.
  • While some eco-groups are claiming that Granholm opposed the Keystone XL an the Dakota Access pipelines, I am unaware of her actual participation in resisting these pipelines and actively supporting the indigenous-led resistance that continues to this day.

Instead of celebrating this choice, which is both naive and partisan group think, how about we continue to demand the end of the Dakota Access pipeline, shutting down Line 3, Line 5 and all other pipelines, especially those that Indigenous communities are resisting.

Instead of relaxing, we need to continue to demand massive defunding of the fossil fuel industry, that the Biden administration pass the New Green Deal and a deep commitments to fighting the climate crisis. If those things happen, then I will celebrate.

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