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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.

  • Granholm said she hopes to strengthen solar and wind power usage, and to boost the development of clean-energy technologies, like electric vehicles.

The big picture: Granholm served two terms as Michigan's governor from 2003 to 2011, during which she focused on boosting the auto and manufacturing sectors.

  • She served as Michigan's attorney general from 1998 to 2002.
  • Granholm has also worked as an adviser to Pew Charitable Trusts’ Clean Energy Program.

The bottom line: Granholm's experience working with the auto industry, especially its venture into electric vehicles, is viewed as an important asset in fulfilling Biden's climate agenda.

  • While serving as governor of Michigan, Granholm secured $1.35 billion in federal funding for factories in her auto-focused state to produce electric vehicles, Reuters notes.

What we’re watching: Whether Granholm can help persuade congressional Republicans to back Biden’s call to greatly boost funding for clean tech research and development and commercialization programs.

Go deeper: Biden ushers in historical turn on clean energy and climate change

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.