A top Republican congressman on the House Oversight Committee has opened an inquiry into Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s connection to Proterra, an energy firm that the Biden administration has promoted.
Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment, told Granholm that he is conducting an investigation 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 the committee better insight into her continued involvement with Proterra.
Granholm previously served on Proterra’s board and owned up to $5 million in the company’s stock at the time of her confirmation, according to an Office of Government Ethics filing. She had promised to forfeit her Proterra stock options within 180 days of assuming office in a January letter to the OGE.
“As the Secretary of Energy, it … appears that you are involved with decisions and issues that directly conflict with your ownership of Proterra, Inc.,” Norman wrote.
President Joe Biden participated in a virtual tour of Proterra’s electric battery factory in April. During the tour, he vowed to build up to 50,000 electric vehicle charging stations along the U.S. interstate system.
In addition, Biden’s infrastructure plan includes a $174 billion investment in the electric vehicle market.
Proterra describes itself as “a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications.”
The State Department also hosted a climate summit in April featuring Granholm and Proterra CEO Jack Allen.
In February, Biden ordered Granholm 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.
Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, warned the Department of Energy’s inspector general of the potential conflict of interest in a letter last month.
The White House and Department of Energy didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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