Granholm returns to Michigan Thursday in manufacturing push

Riley Beggin
The Detroit News

Washington — Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will visit Michigan Thursday to promote the administration's infrastructure proposal in her first trip back to the state since taking up her national post in February.

The former Michigan governor will tour manufacturing facilities throughout southeast Michigan with Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation. Top surrogates for President Joe Biden will be traveling throughout the country as part of a "massive push" to tout the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and expected partisan reconciliation bill during the August recess. 

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm speaks during a daily press briefing in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House April 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.

"Secretary Granholm looks forward to being back in Michigan to highlight how the bipartisan infrastructure deal and President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda will strengthen the state’s auto industry, manufacturing sector, and create good-paying jobs in clean energy while combating the climate crisis," Department of Energy spokesperson Kevin Liao told The Detroit News via email. 

The bipartisan infrastructure proposal calls for $550 billion in new spending over five years and includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit, $15 billion for electric vehicle charging stations and buses and more. 

However, it calls for less than a quarter of the total $2.2 trillion in new spending Biden proposed in March under the American Jobs Plan. Democrats plan to include many of those priorities in a separate bill that could be passed along party lines if all Senate Democrats approve it and Vice President Kamala Harris casts the tie-breaking vote. 

One of the pieces left out of the bipartisan bill was $580 billion for research and development, workforce development and manufacturing. The funding would go to clean energy technology, semiconductor manufacturing, medical manufacturing, retooling factories, innovation hubs and more. Some of those priorities have been included in separate bipartisan bills, though most remain in flux in Congress. 

Granholm plans to start her trip with a visit to Magna Electronics in Holly, a manufacturing facility for advanced driver assistance systems such as cameras used for automated parking and lane changing. She'll be joined by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. 

She plans to conduct a roundtable on "place-based supply chain development" with Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills, and business and labor leaders to discuss EV supply chain resilience and how Michigan could be "at the forefront of U.S. manufacturing" through the administration's proposed investments.

Liesl Clark, director of the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, Business Leaders for Michigan COE Jeff Donofrio, and Ford Motor Co. Chief Policy Officer Steven Croley will be among those on the panel, according to Stevens' office. Then Granholm and Stevens plan to visit FEV in Auburn Hills, a powertrain development company. 

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, plan to accompany Granholm to General Motors Co.'s Factory Zero at the company's Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, where many of the company's electric vehicles will be built, beginning with the GMC Hummer EV truck. 

"I’m excited that the next generation of electric American vehicles is being built here in Southeast Michigan and 13th District Strong," Tlaib said in a statement. "The cars we need to eliminate emissions and fight climate change should be made by our skilled union workforce. I’m looking forward to hearing from GM about how they intend to be part of our climate action solution.”

Granholm helms one of the federal government's largest departments, which issues tens of billions of dollars in loans for energy-related research and infrastructure projects annually.

The department oversees funding programs for electric vehicle battery initiatives and has advised the White House on strategies to shore up the battery supply chain, which is currently reliant on other countries, particularly in Asia, for critical minerals and processing. 

Granholm, 62, served as Michigan's first female governor from 2003-11. She was the state's first female attorney general before that from 1998 to 2002. After leaving office in Michigan, she moved to California and taught policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

Twitter: @rbeggin