The Senate and Natural Resources Committee voted Wednesday to advance the nomination of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to the full Senate, where she’s expected to be confirmed as the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Granholm signaled in written responses to the committee ahead of her confirmation hearing last week that she wouldn’t necessarily oppose oil and natural gas or efforts underway to better limit their impacts on climate.
In particular, Granholm signaled continued support for liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Her responses come as one of the first indications of how President Biden may utilize what’s become a potent foreign policy tool for the United States.
“I believe U.S. LNG exports can have an important role to play in reducing international consumption of fuels that have greater contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” Granholm said.
Granholm added that if confirmed, DOE would work closely with U.S. LNG exporters to reduce emissions related to the commodity.
The Senate committee voted 13-4 to advance Granholm’s nomination. She was tapped by President Biden mainly because of a strong track record on alternative energy initiatives during her time as Michigan governor. Her responses on LNG would seem to clash with the Biden administration’s intention of aligning with broader global goals to transition away from fossil fuels.
The president has already moved for the United States to rejoin the United Nations global climate agreement, set a target for net-zero emission by 2050 and indicated a willingness to more closely regulate the oil and gas sector.
Still, coal continues to be utilized to serve a large part of the world’s energy needs, and both renewables and LNG are seen as a key way to curb its use. The super-chilled fuel has played a key role in foreign policy in recent years as well, particularly in Eastern Europe, where more nations have moved to cut their dependence on Russian natural gas. U.S. LNG made its way to more than 30 countries last year, according to the DOE.
U.S. LNG exports have skyrocketed since, reaching 5.8 Bcf/d through the first nine months of last year, up 28.6% from the same time in 2019, according to DOE data. The Energy Department grants authorization to export natural gas to countries that don’t have existing free trade agreements with the United States.
Granholm also said hydraulic fracturing has contributed to the nation’s energy security through significant technological advancements by both private and public sector research. However, she added that the same could be true of other energy sources.
“Similarly, the innovations that the department has worked on since with its partners in the private sector have continued to increase that security even further by diversifying our energy sources,” she said. “If confirmed, I will drive the Department to pursue the research that will further this goal while also making our nation more secure by mitigating the threats of the climate crisis.”
She added that carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects are of particular importance to curbing emissions and said the technology should be more widely deployed. Granholm also said she supports additional research and loan guarantees for CCUS technology.
During her confirmation hearing last week, Granholm said some of her top priorities would be national security and the support of research at DOE’s national labs, particularly their work on climate change.
Granholm also said in written responses that DOE would work to bolster power grid reliability and resilience as more intermittent renewables are added to the system, which would add “millions of clean jobs to the economy as well as contribute to energy security and independence.”
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