Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images

New Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm hasn't been especially controversial, but her easy confirmation may not be a prologue of what's to come.

Driving the news: The Senate voted 64–35 Thursday to approve the former Michigan governor for the post after a nomination process devoid of drama.

Why it matters: The DOE is slated to play a big role in President Biden's push to greatly expand R&D and market deployment of clean tech to fight climate change.

But Granholm will have plenty more on her plate too. Here is a preliminary list of five things we're watching...

1) Congress: Biden is asking Congress for extremely large increases in research, development and demonstration funding, and DOE is the main venue for that work.

  • His plan calls for $400 billion over 10 years to bolster research and innovation programs, so Granholm will need to sell it to GOP lawmakers.
  • Capitol Hill Republicans thwarted former President Trump's effort to slash DOE's budget, but what Biden wants greatly exceeds the R&D increases in recent years.

2) Grid modernization: A major build-out of clean power generation will need lots of new infrastructure to carry those electrons.

  • But getting transmission built is notoriously hard, and jurisdiction is fragmented both federally and between the federal government and states.
  • Advocates will be looking to Granholm. "DOE’s transmission authorities are limited but its bully pulpit is strong," Grid Strategies president Rob Gramlich tells me.
  • "The agency has tools to fund grid planning and stakeholder engagement and provide some permitting support where needed," he says.

3) Natural gas: Granholm will face competing pressures here when it comes to the DOE's role in continuing the expansion of LNG exports.

  • She has signaled some support for LNG by saying it can replace global use of higher emissions fuels (read: coal) while also saying domestic gas production has to get cleaner.
  • The industry will be looking for both more export authorizations (though exporters have plenty in-hand) and support in working with allies to strike deals, a role DOE played under Trump.
  • The American Petroleum Institute's statement on her confirmation said it welcomed her endorsement of LNG.
  • But part of the Sierra Club's response warns Granholm against "locking the country into decades of fossil fuel development by supporting infrastructure such as LNG terminals."

4) Cars: The former Michigan governor has plenty of experience with the auto industry.

  • So she's likely to be a point person for Biden administration efforts to speed up deployment of EV production and charging infrastructure.

5) Unions: Swaths of the labor movement are wary of the Biden administration's energy agenda and dislike moves like scuttling the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • Granholm will be under pressure to help fulfill promises to bolster the creation of good jobs in emerging sectors.
  • Her NPR interview this morning touts carbon capture tech as one area of growth.
  • “This is the kind of technology that people who are working right now in the fossil community could absolutely get jobs in,” she said, while also citing new Brookings Institution analysis of potential renewables jobs in fossil fuel regions.
Data: ITIF; Chart: Axios Visuals

The chart above shows the last few decades of energy-related research, development and demonstration programs at the Energy Department (which, contra its name, is a hub for many kinds of science).

It demonstrates both how investment has fallen from where it was decades ago and how much smaller current levels are than what Biden is seeking.

What we're watching: Granholm's efforts to bolster research and to speed up market penetration of existing and emerging clean energy tech.

  • “Our focus is going to be both on discovery, but also deployment. We’ve got to add, as a nation, a huge amount of clean energy to the grid,” she told MSNBC last night.

Go deeper

Feb 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate confirms former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as energy secretary

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to confirm former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm as secretary of the Department of Energy.

Why it matters: Granholm, only the second woman to head the department, will play a key role in President Biden’s efforts to accelerate the U.S. shift to clean energy and help other countries do the same.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Feb 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Natural gas exporters race to have the least polluting fossil fuels

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A big U.S. liquefied natural gas exporter will start giving customers detailed info about the greenhouse gas footprint of its cargoes — a move that provides a glimpse into fossil fuel producers' strategies for competing in a climate-constrained world.

Driving the news: Cheniere Energy, which sends lots of LNG abroad from the Gulf Coast, said Wednesday that starting in 2022 each shipment will have "Cargo Emissions Tags."

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID-19 complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!