Top House Republican Opens Oversight Investigation Into Energy Secretary’s ‘Concerning’ Ownership Of Green Energy Firm

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Thomas Catenacci Energy & Environment Reporter
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A top Republican congressman on the Oversight Committee has opened an inquiry into Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s ownership stake in energy firm Proterra, according to a Wednesday letter.

Rep. Ralph Norman, who is the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment, told Granholm that he is conducting oversight into the potential conflict of interest in a letter sent to her office. Norman asked her to share a variety of documents and filings that could give Republicans on the committee better insight into her continued involvement with Proterra.

“As the Secretary of Energy, it also appears that you are involved with decisions and issues that directly conflict with your ownership of Proterra, Inc.,” Norman wrote, according to the letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Specifically, one of the priorities of the Biden Administration’s Department of Energy is electric vehicle technology.”

Before the Senate confirmed her to lead the Department of Energy (DOE), Granholm had served on Proterra’s board, according to an Office of Government Ethics (OGE) filing. Granholm had promised to forfeit her unvested Proterra stock options within 180 days of assuming office when it was “practicable” to do so in a January letter to the OGE. (RELATED: Biden’s Energy Nominee Divvied Millions In Taxpayer Funds To Alternative Energy Startups That Went Bankrupt)

Norman noted that Granholm’s direct responsibilities intersect with Proterra’s business. On Feb. 24, President Joe Biden ordered her to assemble a report “identifying risks in the supply chain for high-capacity batteries, including electric-vehicle batteries, and policy recommendations.”

“If you are carrying out that Executive Order as intended, your ownership of Proterra, Inc. is even more troubling and raises questions about whether the company receives any preferential treatment from DOE,” Norman wrote.

Biden has promoted electric-vehicle manufacturing throughout his first months in office. His infrastructure plan included $174 billion to encourage Americans to shift to electric vehicles.

Biden even attended a virtual tour of Proterra’s electric battery factory in South Carolina. During the tour, Biden vowed to build up to 50,000 electric-vehicle charging stations along the U.S. interstate system to help Proterra succeed.

Sen. John Barrasso, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, warned the DOE inspector general of the potential conflict of interest in a letter last month. He said that Granholm still owns up to $5 million worth of Proterra stock options.

“Secretary Granholm has acted in full accordance with the comprehensive ethical standards set by the Biden Administration,” a DOE spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement Thursday. “She is in the process of divesting all holdings in the company within the 180-day period permitted by her ethics agreement.”

Granholm wasn’t involved in planning Biden’s virtual tour of the Proterra factory, the DOE said.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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