Joint Center Joins White House Forum on Minorities in Energy
The Honorable Dot Harris, Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, stated in the launching of the DOE’s Minorities in Energy Initiative, “Diversity is mission-critical, to our agency and to our country.” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Nancy Sutley and other distinguished members of the Obama Administration, echoed Director Harris’ sentiments at the White House Forum on Minorities in Energy on November 13th.
During the White House Forum, diverse leaders from community organizations, academia, business, and industry exchanged challenges and solutions around three key focus areas that are critical to expanding minority participation: STEM Education/Workforce Development, Energy Economic Development and Climate Change. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies was well represented by Chief of Staff, U.S. Army Senior Military Fellow Colonel Liana L. Bratland on the Climate Change panel.
Colonel Bratland was able to provide a unique perspective on how the U.S. Army is currently tackling energy challenges, and how minority businesses can better engage through public-private partnerships. In particular, she noted the Army’s Energy Initiative Task Force, which is a focused effort for leveraging private-sector investments in energy by soliciting the development of large-scale renewable energy projects. It does this through the use of renewable energy Power Purchase Agreements, or contracts with electricity generators, that allows federal agencies to implement on-site renewable energy projects with zero up-front capital costs. Colonel Bratland concluded the panel by stating, “Through public-private partnerships at all levels – federal, state, local governments and agencies, academia, industry, and community – we can all work together to solve our nation’s energy challenges in a collaborative and synergistic way that is beneficial to all.”
The Minorities in Energy Initiative, launched September 24, creates a national dialogue around expanding minority engagement in the energy industry. The energy sector is currently the third largest industry in the United States, and continues to grow rapidly. More business and workforce opportunities will develop as the Department of Energy works to support the President’s Climate Action Plan and address climate change by transitioning to a more sustainable, low-carbon economy. It is imperative that African Americans and other minority groups are not left behind and have the necessary skills to take full advantage of the growing economic opportunities in this energy revolution.
The Department of Energy also established a Minorities in Energy Ambassadors Program to continue the dialogue on diversity in the energy sector on a national level. Some of the distinguished Ambassadors highlighted at the White House Forum included Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri; the first female and African American Secretary of Energy, Hazel O’Leary; and the Joint Center’s Co-Chair of the Commission to Engage African Americans on Energy, Climate Change, and the Environment, Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis. These Ambassadors will incorporate the mission of the Minorities in Energy Initiative in their platforms and speaking engagements throughout the year.
The final component of this year’s DOE Minorities in Energy Initiative, the Congressional Forum on Minorities in Energy, takes place on November 19th. Danielle Deane, Director for the Joint Center’s Energy and Environment Program, will moderate the Climate Change panel.
Morgan McLeod is the Program Assistant and New Media Strategist at the Joint Center