Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told CNN on Sunday that Americans will pay more to heat their homes this winter as energy prices continue to skyrocket and that the administration hopes that gas prices do not hit $4 per gallon.
“So, according to AAA, the national average of gas prices is now $3.42 a gallon. Bank of America is predicting crude oil prices could soar another 50 percent by next June,” CNN host Dana Bash said. “Could the average gas price in America be $4 a gallon in the United States soon?”
“Well, we certainly hope not,” Granholm responded. “As I say, the Energy Information Agency is going to put out their forecast this week.”
“The president is all over this,” she claimed.
“Should Americans in what will likely be a cold winter — most of them are — expect to pay higher prices for heating their homes?” Bash later asked.
“Yeah, this is going to happen,” Granholm responded. “It will be — it will be more expensive this year than last year. We are in a slightly beneficial position, certainly relative to Europe, because their choke hold of natural gas is very significant.”
TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA CNN:
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Hello. I’m Dana Bash in Washington, where the state of our union is feeling some whiplash.
After a bruising Election Day for Democrats, President Biden spent the weekend celebrating a significant win, bipartisan passage of his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which passed the House overnight Friday with the support of 13 Republicans and gives billions of dollars to the nation’s bridges and roads, as well as broadband, water and energy systems.
Saturday, the president heralded a victory, calling it a monumental step forward as a nation. The president is still pushing Democrats on the Hill to pass the other half of his domestic agenda, the $1.75 trillion social spending bill and climate bill.
The administration had hoped to pass this legislation together, but the timeline for the larger bill slipped last week after moderates in the House demanded more information on the bill’s cost.
Joining me now, someone who was deeply involved in the push for the infrastructure bill, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
Thank you so much for joining me.
JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: You bet.
BASH: Nice to see you in person.
GRANHOLM: Yes, likewise.
BASH: It’s a very large piece of legislation, almost law.
I want to narrow in on a couple specific parts of it. The president said yesterday that the bill will — quote — “reduce supply chains’ bottlenecks now and for decades to come” and — quote — “ease inflationary pressure.”
When can American families expect to feel that relief?
GRANHOLM: Yes, it’s — this is a really great question, because, obviously, this — the president is focused really in the short term and in the long term.
In the short term, these inflationary pressures, the price of fuel, for example, is high at the top of his list. And so the question is as, we move out of COVID, we know that that has been creating these supply chain bottlenecks. And that includes in the fuel sector as well.
And so the Energy Information Agency, which is in the Department of Energy, has its forecast for the winter coming up in two days. And we will be looking to see what the prices are looking like there.
But know that the — all of the economists that the president has been relying on suggest that there is a transitory nature — nature to the inflation problem as we move through the pandemic. And we want to make sure that we get everybody vaccinated, so that we can unclog the bottlenecks that we have been seeing.
BASH: And this bill, almost law, will help?
GRANHOLM: The bottlenecks in supply chains, for example, for batteries, for electric vehicles, there is $5 billion that has been put into making sure that we’re actually building the electric vehicles and the guts to those vehicles. That’s in the infrastructure bill. Putting people to work in good- paying jobs will certainly help. So, there’s — with the two pieces, it’s going to be two million jobs per year that are created, good- paying jobs. And investing in our nation for the future is critical.
BASH: And there’s a lot on climate and on electric vehicle chargers.
BASH: When will that network be ready? And when do you think the majority of drivers will be using electric vehicles?
Well, as you probably know, the auto industry itself has said that they want half of their fleet to be electric, new vehicles sold, by 2030. This is a transition, that, right now, we’re not there yet. But we want to make sure that one of the reasons that people aren’t buying electric vehicles to the extent that they could be is because there aren’t charging stations.
And so there is a significant amount in the bipartisan infrastructure bill to build out that network. Right now, charging stations are largely in places where electric vehicles already are. So it’s a chicken and egg. We want to fill that out, so rural areas, poorer areas have access to the fuel that’s necessary.
And then, in the Build Back Better agenda, there will be incentives to be able to purchase electric vehicles that will bring the cost down to the same level as gas-powered vehicles. That all — all of that is happening. This is part of the long term. The build out of this will occur over the next few years.
It’s not going to happen in one year. It is a multiyear bill. So this is why the president has his eye on the future to make sure that we get the clean energy necessary to make sure that the United States is taking advantage of this new global economy.
Having just come back from Glasgow yesterday, it is really important for us to stake — to take a stake in this whole clean energy economy. And that’s what this bill starts.
BASH: Let me ask — yes.
And let me ask you. You’re talking about all these things that you say that it’s going to do. I don’t need to tell you Tuesday night was not great for Democrats. There is now a Republican-elect governor in Virginia. Republicans almost pulled off an upset in New Jersey.
You are a former governor. What lessons do you take away from Tuesday night?
GRANHOLM: That we — thank God, and I think that the Democrats in the House got this message very loud and clear — pass the bill, right? And pass the second part too, because these contain things that everyday people care about.
The governor of Michigan today, Gretchen Whitmer, ran on the phrase, fix the damn roads. And that’s what this bill does. It fixes the damn roads. It fixes your bridges. It gets broadband to real people. It fixes your homes, so that they’re not leaking energy. It invests — the second part invests in child care, which we know we’re the only industrialized nation that doesn’t help families with child care.
These are the basics. Bringing down the costs of living for real people, so that you’re not paying $500 a year to fix your car because you ran over a pothole.
BASH: Well, you mentioned cost of living. I got ask you about gas prices.
BASH: So, according to AAA, the national average of gas prices is now $3.42 a gallon. Bank of America is predicting crude oil prices could soar another 50 percent by next June.
Could the average gas price in America be $4 a gallon in the United States soon?
GRANHOLM: Well, we certainly hope not. As I say, the Energy Information Agency is going to put out their forecast this week.
The president is all over this. Of course, every president is frustrated because they can’t control the price of gasoline, because it’s a global market. You can call upon increased supply, which he has done. And OPEC is, unfortunately, controlling the agenda with respect to oil prices. OPEC is a cartel and it controls over 50 percent of the supply of gasoline.
BASH: Is there anything that the Biden administration can do about OPEC?
GRANHOLM: Well, he can call upon them to increase supply. And they have chosen this past week not to do that.
So, that is going to increase the choke hold on access to affordable fuel at the pump. And so the president is looking at all of the tools that he has.
BASH: What about the Strategic Petroleum Reserve?
GRANHOLM: That’s one of the tools that he has. And he’s certainly looking at that. And I think we will be looking at that forecast that’s coming out on Tuesday to make…
BASH: Should Americans in what will likely be a cold winter — most of them are — expect to pay higher prices for heating their homes?
GRANHOLM: Yes, this is going to happen. It will be — it will be more expensive this year than last year. We are in a slightly beneficial position, certainly relative to Europe, because their choke hold of natural gas is very significant. They’re going to pay five times higher.
But we have the same problem in fuels that the supply chains have, which is that the oil and gas companies are not flipping the switch as quickly as the demand requires. And so that’s why the president has been focused on both the immediate term and the long term.
Let us get off of the volatility associated with fossil fuels and associated with others who don’t have our country’s interests at heart and invest in moving to clean energy, where we will not have this problem. And that’s so much of what these two bills are focused on.
BASH: Secretary Granholm, thank you so much for coming in.
GRANHOLM: You bet.
BASH: Nice to see you. Appreciate it.