The election of Joe Biden as US President is already being reflected in policy and staff changes at the Department of Energy (DOE).

Biden has reportedly selected former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Energy Secretary to replace Dan Brouillette.  Granholm has indicated that she will divest of any assets she holds related to energy companies and leave the board of an electric bus company, giving up millions in stock options, if she is confirmed by the US Senate. Until that appointment is confirmed, the acting Secretary of Energy is David Huizenga, associate principal deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA).

DOE announced a senior leadership team on 21 January, saying it will carry out President Biden's "vision for bold action on the climate crisis”.

The team includes two new jobs: a deputy director for energy justice and a director of energy jobs.

Tarak Shah, who was chief of staff to the undersecretary for science and energy at DOE from 2014 to 2017, will serve as DOE chief of staff – the first person of colour, Indian-American and LGBTQ person to serve in that position.

In a message to the DOE team he noted: “President Biden and Vice President Harris have a bold science-based agenda for restoring American leadership and rebuilding our country to address the great challenges of our time. DOE is a critical part of that agenda.”

He added: “We will lead the way to keep our country safe by maintaining the nation’s nuclear deterrent as a cornerstone of our national defence and security. We will perform our clean-up mission to restore the lands and communities that have shouldered the burden to keep our nation safe. And we will develop and deploy technologies to tackle the climate crisis and build an equitable clean energy future. To achieve these clean energy goals, we must better integrate basic science, applied research, and technology demonstration. To facilitate this, we will be updating the Department’s organisation structure.”

Outgoing Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said he was delighted by the progress DOE had made during his tenure. “We made innovation the cornerstone of our energy policy by removing unnecessary regulations and by supporting our great National Laboratories as America’s incubators of ingenuity and discovery.”

He added that these policies “have transformed our nation and world”, making the USA “an energy-independent country and a world energy powerhouse”. The USA “is the number-one producer of oil and natural gas and number two in wind and solar generation,” he said. “Nuclear energy is being revitalised, coal is now cleaner than ever, and America continues to lead every nation in reducing energy related carbon emissions,” he claimed.

List of appointees

  • Shalanda H. Baker, Deputy Director for Energy Justice
  • Vanessa Z. Chan, Director, Office of Technology Transitions (Chief Commercialization Officer)
  • Robert Cowin, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement
  • Tanya Das, Chief of Staff, Office of Science
  • Christopher Davis, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Energy
  • Ali Douraghy, Chief of Staff, Office of the Under Secretary for Science & Energy
  • Caroline Grey, White House Liaison
  • Todd Kim, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation and Enforcement
  • Jennifer Jean Kropke, Director of Energy Jobs
  • Andrew Light, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs
  • David A. Mayorga, Director of Public Affairs
  • Shara Mohtadi, Chief of Staff, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
  • Ali Nouri, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Tarak Shah, Chief of Staff
  • Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
  • Narayan Subramanian, Legal Advisor, Office of General Counsel
  • Shuchi Talati, Chief of Staff, Office of Fossil Energy
  • Jennifer Wilcox, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy
  • Avi Zevin, Deputy General Counsel for Energy Policy