Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm’s taxpayer-funded travel has come under intense scrutiny. Notably, her recent trip to Puerto Rico marks the fifth visit there in nine months, raising eyebrows among Republicans who question the necessity and financial prudence of such frequent travel.
In a Twitter post, Granholm displayed enthusiasm about her return to Puerto Rico, intending to make several energy resilience announcements. However, her liberal use of the travel budget, coupled with the frequency of these trips, has raised concerns amongst conservatives who question whether her physical presence in Puerto Rico is essential for these announcements.
We need to cap the travel of these "public servants"https://t.co/s5sOagFE1c
— Ruth Hall (@RuthHal84018141) August 2, 2023
Republicans, particularly House Energy and Commerce Committee chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations chair Morgan Griffith (R-VA), have questioned the “frequency and duration” of these trips, given the increasing energy costs and intensifying threats to the U.S.’ energy independence.
In April, Granholm was asked to provide an “itemized list of expenses incurred during the duration of the secretary’s travels for herself and all accompanying staff” and a “list of official activities and meetings undertaken during the secretary’s travels and all accompanying meeting minutes.” The question arises whether Granholm’s persistent and extended presence is critical to stabilizing and modernizing Puerto Rico’s electric grid.
A former Department of Energy official raised an important question when speaking to the Washington Free Beacon. He said, “We are in the middle of a domestic and global energy crisis, and under her watch, the American people are paying the price for this administration’s failed energy policies. Unless Granholm installs the solar panels herself, there is no reason for her to be on the ground for that long.”
Despite the criticism, Granholm, on her latest trip, announced a $453 million federal funding increase to boost “residential rooftop solar PV and battery storage installations” in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, she declared an additional $7 million in grants to aid disadvantaged communities in determining their energy needs.
While the Biden administration had allocated $1 billion earlier this year to strengthen Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, which had been severely damaged by hurricanes in 2017, questions persist regarding the necessity for such frequent trips by the Energy Secretary. The effectiveness of these allocations in the face of apparent mismanagement and corruption poses a serious concern for taxpayers.
Considering the ongoing domestic and global energy crises, the administration’s time and resources would be better spent addressing the energy policy failures at home. The constant travels, as enjoyable as they may be for the Secretary, come at a significant expense to taxpayers and seemingly need to provide a measurable return on investment.