President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Energy Department, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, told a Senate confirmation panel that she believes some American jobs may need to be “sacrificed” in order for Biden to pursue his ambitious environmental agenda.
Granholm, who presided over an effort to convert Michigan’s auto industry jobs to “green jobs” during an economic downturn — an effort that had only mixed success — was asked Wednesday for her input on whether Biden’s plan to suspend new oil and gas drilling permits on federal land would have dire economic consequences.
Surprisingly, it seems Granholm agreed that the plan would cost jobs, but she suggested that some fossil fuel industry jobs would need to be “sacrificed” in order to pursue Biden’s ambitious environmental goals.
Sen. John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming whose state is reportedly slated to lose jobs over Biden’s ban, asked Granholm whether the president’s climate agenda would pit American workers against environmental activists, in violation of Biden’s commitment to unity.
“I’m just curious how a long-term ban consistent with the president’s goal of unifying our country and putting Americans back to work and helping our economies grow, how is that all consistent?” Barrasso asked.
“I think the president’s plan of building back better … would create more jobs in energy, clean energy, than the jobs that might be sacrificed,” Granholm quipped in response.
She quickly added that does not “want to see any jobs sacrificed.”
Granholm’s comments come on the heels of similar comments from the U.S. climate czar, John Kerry, who, as The Daily Wire reported earlier Wednesday, suggested that energy workers put out of business by Biden’s environmental agenda could seek other work, like manufacturing solar panels.
“We didn’t come here to put anybody on notice except to the seriousness of President Biden’s intent to do what needs to be done to deal with this crisis, and it is a crisis,” Kerry said at a press conference. “With respect to those workers, no two people are more, in this room, are more concerned about it. And the president of the United States has expressed in every comment he has made about climate the need to grow the new jobs that pay better, that are cleaner.”
“You know, you look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States before COVID was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. Similarly, you have the second fastest-growing job pre-COVID was wind turbine technician,” Kerry continued. “So what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, that they can be the people that go to work to make the solar panels, that we’re making them here at home.”
It might be difficult for industry workers to get jobs in solar panel manufacturing, according to Bloomberg. Of the top ten solar manufacturers, only one, First Solar Inc., is in the United States.
“I completely understand what you are saying,” Granholm said in reference to a question about oil and gas workers swapping industries. “What I can tell you is from my experience in Michigan is that when we focused on providing incentives for job providers to locate in Michigan in clean energy they came.”
Granholm’s Michigan green jobs program has mixed reviews, according to a conservative Michigan think tank, the Mackinac Center, and according to Granholm’s own statistics. At least one of her programs, the grant-making “Centers of Energy Excellence” helped create just 44 Michigan jobs, per Mackinac.