Ex-Google exec Arun Majumdar top pick to be Biden’s energy secretary

A former Google executive who previously led an Energy Department unit that funded research into experimental power projects is among the front-runners to lead the agency under President-elect Joe Biden, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Arun Majumdar, a Stanford University engineering professor who was named Tuesday to lead the Biden transition team for the agency, is on the short-list to be Energy secretary, the people said.

“He has to be the front-runner if is looking for a politically savvy technical expert to lead the agency,” said Jeff Navin, a co-founder and partner at Boundary Stone Partners, a Washington-based government affairs and communications firm.

Majumdar declined to comment, instead referring questions to the Biden transition team that said in a statement that it has “not made any personnel decisions at this time.”

The Energy Department has a budget of about $35 billion and a disparate mission that includes helping to build the nation’s nuclear warheads, maintaining its emergency stockpile of oil and conducting research on subjects as varied as super computers and capturing carbon dioxide emissions.

In addition to Majumdar, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a former deputy Energy secretary whose deep background on is considered an asset, is among the top candidates to lead the agency, according to the people. She didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.

Majumdar has been told to resign from all boards and organizations associated with energy to eliminate perceived conflicts of interest, according to one person familiar with the communication. He has resigned from the board of the Electric Power Research Institute effective Tuesday, according to the institute.

“We understand his departure is for the broader good of our country,” said Arshad Mansoor, president of the institute.

Under Biden, the Energy Department is expected to have a major role in Covid-related economic stimulus that the president-elect has said would be one of his top priorities. Under President Barack Obama the department was instrumental in disseminating some $90 billion in clean energy stimulus spending under the Recovery Act in 2009.

Majumdar, who also served as the acting undersecretary of Energy, won bi-partisan praise for his work as the founding director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy under Obama with the goal of helping investors translate science into breakthrough technologies. The program, which was targeted for elimination by Trump but preserved by Congress, has doled out billions of dollars to hundreds of projects including a squid-skin inspired shirt to regulate body temperature and a carbon-capture project that used enzymes.

“He had as good relationships with Republicans as he did with Democrats as the first director of ARPA-E, and he took the time to get to know key legislators personally,” said Navin, who is also a former acting chief of staff at the Energy Department.

Majumdar went on to serve as vice president for energy at Alphabet Inc.’s Google before taking the post at Stanford. At Google he created energy technology initiatives with a focus on the intersection of data, computing and the electricity grid, according to his online Stanford biography.

“Between his stints at ARPA-E and as the acting undersecretary, Arun has developed a unique and deep understanding of both the key technologies we’ll need to build a strong, job growth-oriented, carbon-free economy and the tools the department has to make it happen,” said Mike Carr, a strategic adviser at Boundary Stone Partners who previously served as a principal deputy secretary at the Energy Department under Obama.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Source link


Gangster Salem allowed to be present in Lucknow court during arguments in fake passport case

Jailed gangster Abu Salem’s request that he be allowed to be present in a Lucknow court when his lawyer is submitting arguments in the...

EXCLUSIVE: “A week before the NUDE photoshoot, I cut down Vijay Deverakonda’s carbs completely” – Kuldeep Sethi : Bollywood News – Bollywood Hungama

“My contribution to Liger would be the maximum (laughs)! After all, Vijay Deverakonda’s role is that of a UFC fighter and he...