Mar 9, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Biden admin urges oil companies to speed up low-carbon efforts

Photo of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during the 2023 CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston on March 8. Photo: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

HOUSTON — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has a message for oil executives and European governments wary of U.S. policy: Low-carbon transition isn't a zero-sum game.

Driving the news: Granholm, speaking at the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference Wednesday, pushed companies to invest more in climate-friendly sources that are cousins of their core business.

  • "You have the skillsets and knowledge to build some critical technologies at scale," she told the conference, while lauding companies already moving that way.
  • Granholm cited geothermal, offshore wind, and hydrogen transport as ripe for their knowledge, adding climate law incentives provide 10 years of "carrots you can take to the bank."

Catch up fast: Senior White House aide John Podesta delivered a similar message to industry earlier in the week, citing companies' existing diversification but urging more.

  • He urged them to "grab the baton and to run with it" now that the climate law provides new support.

Of note: Granholm praised the industry for boosting domestic oil production amid the Russia crisis in the speech, which Bloomberg notes was a vibe shift.

The intrigue: She put a positive spin on tensions with EU officials over U.S. subsidies for low-carbon tech manufacturing projects.

  • Granholm pointed out that's pushing Europe to boost support and called "friendly competition" helpful to the world.

Yes, but: There's no way to completely paper over the divides.

  • For instance, Granholm said: "We don't want to stoke trade wars or anything like that, but we are serious about bringing back supply chains into this country."
  • Oil execs argue the White House is stifling development, including what they fear will be a de facto rejection of ConocoPhillips' big Willow project in Alaska.
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