Secretary of Energy – confirmation needed

Jennifer Granholm

by Deedra Abboud in Political
January 5, 2021 0 comments

President-elect Joe Biden nominated Jennifer Granholm to be the next Secretary of Energy.

The position: Advises on energy policy. Oversees the nuclear weapons stockpile.

Jennifer Mulhern Granholm was born in 1959 in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Shirley Alfreda (née Dowden) and Victor Ivar Granholm, both bank tellers.

Granholm’s maternal grandparents came from Ireland and Newfoundland, respectively. Her paternal grandmother was an emigrant from Norway and her paternal grandfather, who immigrated to Canada in the 1930s, came from Robertsfors, Sweden, where his father was the mayor.

Granholm moved from Canada to California at age four.

She graduated from San Carlos High School and briefly attempted an acting career, then held a variety of jobs in the tourism and customer service industries.

In 1980, at the age of 21 years, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

She then enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, the first person in her family to attend college. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated in 1984 with a B.A. in Political Science and French.

During a year in France, she helped to smuggle clothes and medical supplies to Jewish people in the Soviet Union and became involved in the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

She then earned a Juris Doctor degree at Harvard University, also with honors, in 1987. At Harvard Law School, Granholm served as Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, the leading progressive law journal in the United States.

While Granholm was at Harvard, she met fellow law student and Michigan native Daniel Mulhern, a theology graduate from Yale University. They married in 1986 and they took each other’s surname as their middle names. They have three children.

She then clerked for Judge Damon Keith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1991. She helped to prosecute drug dealers, gang members, and child pornographers. Of the 154 people she tried, 151 were convicted.

In 1995 she was appointed to serve as Corporation Counsel for Wayne County, becoming the youngest person to hold the position. She defended the County against lawsuits, sued the state over road taxes, and fought to uphold environmental laws.

Granholm was elected Attorney General of Michigan from 1999 to 2003, becoming the first female Attorney General of Michigan.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Granholm directed state agencies to work with lawmakers in keeping the fight against terrorism within the powers of the state.

She also imposed a regulation on gasoline dealers to keep them from raising prices dramatically, something which occurred sporadically across Michigan immediately following the attacks.

In February 2002, Granholm announced that her office was joining with the AARP Michigan State Office to help consumers fight calls from telemarketers.

Granholm was sworn in as the 47th Governor of the state of Michigan on January 1, 2003, boasting strong support from working women, African-Americans, and voters under 30 years of age.

Upon her inauguration, in addition to becoming the state’s first female governor, she also became its third governor who was not a natural-born citizen of the United States and its fourth who was not born within the United States.

During the 2004 presidential election in Michigan, she cited the economy as the main concern for Michiganders, not the Iraq War or the War on Terror, which meant that with “the deficit larger; the Dow dropping; unemployment claims up, hitting an all-time high; General Motors profits below expectations, with health claims crippling profits; flu vaccine in short supply; oil prices rising” her state was badly hit.

Michigan’s economy had been losing jobs since 2000, largely owing to the decline in the American manufacturing sector. Granholm supported diversification of Michigan’s economy away from its historical reliance on automotive manufacturing.

She pushed through a $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund to attract jobs to Michigan in the life sciences, alternative energy, advanced manufacturing, and homeland security sectors.

Granholm also supported alternative energy jobs to Michigan to replace lost auto manufacturing jobs.

In 2007 Granholm proposed and signed into law the No Worker Left Behind Act to provide two years of free training or community college for unemployed and displaced workers. Since its launch in August 2007, more than 130,000 people have enrolled in retraining. The program caps tuition assistance at $5000 per year for two years, or $10,000 per person, and covers retraining in high-demand occupations and emerging industries.

The Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth reported back in October 2009 that 62,206 people had enrolled and that of the 34,355 who had completed training, 72% had found work or retained their positions and a further 18,000 were still in long-term or short-term training. 16% of all enrolments had withdrawn or failed to complete the training.

As of July 2010, more than two years after the program was launched, 65,536 people were in training or involved in on-the-job training. Dropouts had been reduced to 13.1% of enrollments.

On October 21, 2010, Granholm was made a Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star, First Class, by the King of Sweden “for her work in fostering relations between Michigan and Sweden to promote a clean energy economy.”

She served as Michigan Governor until 2011, when term-limits prevented her from running again.

In May 2011, she joined the board of directors of Marinette Marine Corporation, a Wisconsin shipbuilder and Defense contractor.

Granholm is currently serving as the sponsor of USS Marinette, a warship under construction by the company.

Granholm served on the board of directors of the Dow Chemical Company from March to October 2011.

In August 2013, she joined the board of Talmer Bancorp, a Michigan financial institution. Granholm continued to serve on the Talmer board until the company was acquired by the Chemical Financial Corporation at the end of August 2016.

In August 2016, she joined the board of ChargePoint, a corporation that manages a network of electric vehicle charging stations.

In March 2017, Granholm also joined the board of Proterra, a manufacturer of electric buses and charging stations.

Granholm is a distinguished adjunct professor of law and public policy at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy and UC Berkeley School of Law.

In the Autumn of 2011, she taught a graduate course entitled “Governing in Tough Times”. She is also a senior research fellow at the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute (BECI) Faculty and a project scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

As a senior advisor to The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program and founder of The American Jobs Project at UC Berkeley, Granholm spearheads a campaign for a national clean energy policy that promotes and funds American energy independence and home-grown manufacturing and innovation for wind, solar, and advanced battery industries across the United States.

She is a regular contributor to NBC’s political talk show Meet the Press, has written on U.S. energy policy and has co-authored a book with her husband, A Governor’s Story: The Fight For Jobs and America’s Economic Future, which was released in September 2011 and was about the lessons Michigan’s experience can offer to America.

Granholm’s nomination was received favorably among major energy experts.

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