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China, Greta, and Electric: Is the Fifth Risk Over?

Jennifer Granholm
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images
Peter Hamby
November 9, 2021

Unlike her predecessor Rick Perry, the Texas Republican who famously thought the job of Energy Secretary was to be a global ambassador for American oil and gas, Jennifer Granholm came into Joe Biden’s cabinet with a clear understanding of the role. The Energy Department has jurisdiction over the nation’s energy resources—particularly its nuclear energy capabilities—but also its energy goals. And Biden has made abundantly clear, with the recently-passed infrastructure bill and his proposed Build Back Better agenda, that a greener and more energy efficient economy is a cornerstone of it’s vision. It’s up to Granholm to bring many of those goals to life.

A former two-term Michigan governor and a CNN political pundit, Granholm has her own kind of excitable energy that sets her apart from the nerdy bureaucrats who serve with her in Biden’s cabinet. It’s charming, but her shoot-from-the-hip manner sometimes has the effect of generating not-so-great headlines for the administration, like when she recently laughed off a reporter’s “hilarious” question about rising gas prices and growing the nation’s oil supply. She was mostly right on the facts, but right-wing media had a field day with her laughter nevertheless.