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Granholm’s Senate hot seat

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Granholm in March. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Jennifer Granholm's Senate testimony Tuesday produced many revelations, including the possibility that the Energy Department may give its first loan to a mine.

Why it matters: The Biden administration is sensitive to criticism from the mining industry and its allies in Congress — and that could translate to direct investments in mines.

Granholm also offered newsy nuggets on LNG, geothermal and energy financing to the ENR panel:

1. All gas no breaks: Granholm expects the department's study on LNG export permits to be completed "around the end of the year" — putting an election-year clock on the pause.

  • She insisted that the move is "a scientific pause" and not a political decision.
  • Granholm told Bill Cassidy that it will account for countries pivoting to coal from natural gas as a result of any halt in U.S. LNG export growth.

2. Mining moment: Granholm told Lisa Murkowski that "there may be a mine that's coming through the system" in the Loan Programs Office, without describing specifics.

  • When the Alaskan claimed that the infrastructure law made it "very, very clear" that DOE could lend to actual mining, as opposed to processing and recycling, Granholm offered an olive branch.
  • "I would like to sit with you and [LPO director] Jigar Shah in your office to talk about this," she said.

3. Penny for thoughts: Speaking of LPO, Granholm said it has sent loans and given conditional commitments to 18 decarbonization projects, while 205 are "in the pipeline."

  • When Ranking Member John Barrasso pressed for more transparency on DOE financing and lending, Granholm said these figures showed the department is doing "a terrific job of being open for business" while using "internal controls."

4. Hot for geothermal: Granholm called for Congress to pass new legislation to help offset the big upfront cost of geothermal projects.

  • "We're encouraging geothermal companies to go to the Loan Programs Office, but some of it could be addressed through additional upfront capital help, support from Congress," she said.
  • The Hill conversation about geothermal has to date focused on permitting, with House Republicans working on a slate of anti-red tape geothermal bills in the Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.

5. Hawley's heat: Josh Hawley called on Granholm to resign in light of her revelation last year that she "mistakenly" told Congress she did not own individual stocks.

  • "It is outrageous that you are continuing to mislead us … and frankly, you should go," Hawley said.
  • Granholm denied any impropriety and said her personal finances are all "publicly available."
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