WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the Ranking Member on the Energy Subcommittee, participated in a hearing to consider the nomination of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich highlighted how the energy sector is changing rapidly, which means new careers, but it also means future job losses in traditional fossil energy. He questioned Granholm on the need for federal investments to ensure that oil and gas workers and their communities are not left behind.
“Oil and gas is entering what appears to be a structural, rather than a cyclical, decline. And that’s separate from any of the policy or climate change concerns. I believe that the people who work in these sectors are our nation’s ‘energy veterans.’ They are men and women who powered this great nation for the last half century and gave their working lives to that goal,” said Senator Heinrich.
Senator Heinrich secured a commitment from Granholm to work with him on creating a place-based energy transition plan that ensures hard-working New Mexicans are not left behind.
Granholm said that she plans to help the Biden administration assess the economic assets already present in states and re-train individuals to be prepared for new careers in their communities. Granholm stated that “place-based strategies are critical for areas that have been left behind,” which is central to the Executive Order signed by President Joe Biden today to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad while creating good-paying union jobs, building sustainable infrastructure, and delivering environmental justice.
In the hearing, Senator Heinrich also noted that “one of the fastest ways to drive carbon pollution out of vast swaths of our economy is to begin electrifying practically everything.” Senator Heinrich further described the present possibilities to electrify transportation, heating and cooling, water heating and many other things that are historically done with fossil energy. Senator Heinrich asked Granholm how she plans to harness the expertise of DOE to accelerate the electrification of our economy.
Granholm expressed that she plans to further President Biden’s January 27 Executive Order and “lead by example effort” that will require the DOE to buy American, create domestic demand, and “create opportunities for […] companies to build these products that will electrify our entire country in ways that we haven’t seen before.”
Senator Heinrich also thanked Granholm for planning to visit New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories that are both supported by DOE.
Senator Heinrich will continue efforts to strengthen the partnerships between New Mexico’s national labs, universities, and private industry to spur technical innovation and boost job creation.