By Timothy Gardner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate Energy Committee voted 13-4 on Wednesday to approve the nomination of former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to head the Energy Department.
Granholm, 61, wants to steer the department to help the United States compete with China on electric vehicles (EVs) and green technologies like advanced batteries and solar and wind power.
When Granholm was governor from 2003 to 2011, she secured $1.35 billion in federal funding for companies to produce EVs and batteries in her state. “I am obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America," she said at her nomination hearing last week.
The full Senate is expected to consider Granholm's nomination this month.
Republican Senators John Barrasso, of fossil fuel producing Wyoming, and Mike Lee of Utah were among those voted against Granholm. Barrasso said President Joe Biden's green push including signing of executive orders nixing the Keystone XL pipeline, rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate, and pausing oil and gas leasing on federal lands would "throw thousands of Americans out of work."
Granholm told last week's hearing that oil, gas and coal would still be part of the U.S. energy mix despite Biden's goal for the country to decarbonize the economy by 2050. She also said domestic mining for rare earth and critical minerals, used in renewable power and batteries as well as military equipment, would boost jobs, energy security, and the minerals supply chain.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)