Initial takes on Biden’s pick for DOE secretary

December 22, 2020, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Two op-eds published recently discuss president-elect Joe Biden’s pick—former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm—to run the Department of Energy. The first is from Llewellyn King, the creator of The White House Chronicle, and the second op-ed is from Hayes Brown, a columnist for MSNBC.

Both op-eds reach similar conclusions in that they do not see Granholm as the right choice to head the DOE, mainly because “despite its name, dealing with energy production isn’t the Energy Department’s main function,” as Brown points out.

King agrees, describing the decision to nominate Granholm as “curious” and noting that the primary idea is that she will focus on speeding up Detroit’s move to electric vehicles. King adds, however, that the job of leading the DOE is much more than that: “Secretary of energy is one of the most demanding assignments in the government. The DOE is a vast archipelago of scientific, defense, diplomatic, and cybersecurity responsibilities. Granholm’s biggest concern, in fact, won’t be energy but defense.” That’s a spot-on assessment, as the majority of the DOE’s budget goes toward maintaining and upgrading the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

Brown says that Granholm might be a great pick “for what Biden wants her to do,” it’s just that the DOE might not be the right place. He states that “the department’s dual nature vexed Biden’s transition team,” citing a New York Times article that reported the team’s struggle over the appointment. The Biden administration’s focus on climate policy may be why Granholm got the nod instead of a scientist more familiar with the DOE complex.

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