Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm acknowledged during her confirmation hearing Wednesday that jobs in the fossil fuel industry could be “sacrificed” as a result of President Joe Biden’s climate agenda.
Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, noted that Biden’s executive order temporarily suspending oil and gas leases on federal land could cost thousands of jobs across multiple states.
.@SenJohnBarrasso to @JenGranholm on banning oil, gas, and coal leasing & permitting on federal lands: “A long-term ban on oil and gas leasing would cost 62,000 jobs in New Mexico, 33,000 jobs in Wyoming, and 18,000 jobs in Colorado.” pic.twitter.com/sR1gwMukvk
— Senate Energy GOP (@EnergyGOP) January 27, 2021
“I’m just curious how a long-term ban is 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?” he asked Granholm.
“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 responded. “But I will say this, no job — we don’t want to see any jobs sacrificed.” (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Secretary Nominee Needs To Answer A Few Questions)
Granholm later assured senators during Wednesday’s confirmation hearing that current oil and gas projects would not be suspended by Biden’s new executive order.
“The licenses that currently are operating are not going to be disrupted. They will continue to operate,” she said. “The oil and gas industry … can continue to permit and extract energy.”
But senators continued to press Granholm on the question of jobs. Biden appointees, including climate envoy John Kerry and Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg, have previously said fossil fuel workers could be retrained for renewable energy jobs, but admitted that transition could take years.
Republican Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy expressed concerns over how long it would take for those renewable energy jobs to actually show up and whether the Biden administration could effectively manage such a significant transformation of the economy.
“If you’ve lost a job that is putting food on your table now, it’s cold comfort to know that years from now, in a different state, perhaps with a different training … there will be another job available,” he said.
“I totally get the concern about job losses. Totally,” Granholm responded.
Granholm, who served as Michigan’s governor from 2003 to 2011, also cited her experience bringing renewable energy jobs to the state. (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Nominee Divvied Millions In Taxpayer Funds To Alternative Energy Startups That Went Bankrupt)
“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,” she said.