Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Grahnolm at a confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Committee hearing screengrab)
WASHINGTON — The Biden Administration will not be trying to put ship nuclear waste to to Yucca Mountain, Energy Secretary nominee former Michigan Gov. Jeniffer Granholm reassured lawmakers Wednesday.
Granholm offered the reassurance during a nomination hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing
Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto joined the hearing remotely and asked if Granholm would push for nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain. Biden had said on the campaign trail that he would oppose it.
“The administration opposes the use of Yucca Mountain for the storage of waste,” Granholm assured her.
Granholm called nuclear waste storage a “very sticky situation” and said she would rely on recommendations from a blue ribbon commission and try to find a consensus solution that engages states and tribes.
There are currently 80,000 metric tons nuclear waste in temporary storage at nuclear power plants around the U.S. There are 121 sites in 39 states with fuel rod waste.
The Trump administration went back and forth on Yucca Mountain storage. The administration included funding for it in some of its budget proposals but in 2020 former President Donald Trump said he opposed storing waste in the state, in what was viewed as a political gesture aimed at securing support in a swing state.
Granholm at her Senate confirmation hearing also talked up the potential for new clean energy jobs— an effort to assuage concerns about potential job losses in the fossil fuel industry. Her remarks came as the Biden administration released a raft of executive orders Wednesday on climate change.
“I am obsessed with creating good-paying jobs in America,” Granholm told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
She said the Biden administration’s goal is to create 10 million clean energy jobs across a host of technology and manufacturing sectors.
Republicans questioned whether the new jobs would come quickly enough for those who may lose their jobs in the oil and gas industry.
“Does the Biden administration really care about jobs?” said Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). “If you lost your job that is putting food on your table now, it is cold comfort to know that perhaps years from now, maybe in another state with different training, there would be another job available.”
To become Energy secretary, Granholm will need to win the approval of the committee in a vote at a later date. Then, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm her. Republicans and Democrats said they expect her to win approval.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who will be chairman of the committee when the Senate works out its power-sharing agreement under a 50-50 partisan split, and oversee her confirmation, said he “wholeheartedly” accepts the nomination.
The Senate already confirmed Biden’s Treasury, State and Defense secretaries, and the Director of National Intelligence. The Senate Commerce Committee voted 21-3 Wednesday morning to approve former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg as the next secretary of Transportation.
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