This is the text version of the video DOE Leadership Perspectives at the DOE Hydrogen Program 2022 Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting.
Sunita Satyapal, Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office: And as we look forward to execute this monumental work ahead of us to make sure that we have clean, affordable hydrogen for all it's critical that we make sure we're doing so in a way that's inclusive, ensuring all voices are heard, as you mentioned, lifting up communities that have been left behind. And this is a priority for the department for all the work that we are and will be doing moving forward in clean hydrogen.
And so, I'm honored today to have with us the thought leader spearheading DOE's crucial work in energy justice. It is my pleasure to introduce the Department's Deputy Director for Energy Justice, Shalanda Baker. And before joining DOE she was a professor of law and public policy and urban affairs at Northeastern University, and she spent over a decade conducting research on equity dimensions of the global transition away from fossil fuel energy to cleaner energy resources. She is the author of over a dozen articles, book chapters, and essays on renewable energy, energy justice, energy policy, and in 2016 she received a Fulbright-García Robles Research Fellowship to study climate change energy policy and indigenous rights of Mexico. And she's the cofounder and former codirector of the Initiative for Energy Justice, an organization committed to providing technical law and policy support to communities on the front lines of climate change. Her recent book, Revolutionary Power: An Activist's Guide to the Energy Transition, argues that the technical terrain of energy policies should be the next domain to advance civil rights.
So, Shalanda, we're really thrilled to have you joining us today. So, over to Shalanda Baker.
Shalanda Baker, U.S. Department of Energy: Good morning. My name is Shalanda Baker and I'm so proud to be the Department of Energy's first ever Deputy Director for Energy Justice, as well as the Secretary's Advisor on Equity.
My office, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, is leading the critical shift to approaching the climate crisis through equity-centered solutions that give everyone, particularly those on the front lines of climate change and environmental injustice, the resources they need to thrive. It may come to no surprise to those of you in this audience today that our energy system is inequitable. The legacy of pollution runs long and deep in communities of color. Some of you may know this, but Black households are more likely than other communities and other households to live in the shadows of fossil fuel generation. Low-income communities of color are often the first and worst impacted by climate disasters. So, these communities live with the legacy, the toxic legacy of air pollution that is a direct result and design—a direct result of the structure of our energy system. So, this is environmental injustice. And the clean energy transformation that we're all working toward here at the Department can make these communities clean and safe.
So, it's also our hope that our work to implement the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law does not exacerbate these harms but provides actual pathways for prosperity for communities on the front lines of climate change and on the front lines of environmental injustice. The recalibration of our energy system requires a transformative commitment to target disadvantaged communities—those on the front lines of climate, those on the front lines of environmental injustices—for clean energy investments, for new jobs, and for new businesses. This is how we build a pathway to prosperity. And our team at the Department of Energy is committed to that transformation.
And so, we can't really talk about saving the Earth, which is averting catastrophic climate change, without also talking about its people, especially those who have borne the brunt of the climate crisis. We cannot advance technical solutions to the climate crisis, such as advancing hydrogen technologies, without centering disadvantaged communities in that narrative and talking about equity and justice on day one.
This mission—centering equity injustice—is a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris administration. I've often heard the Secretary of Energy, Secretary Granholm, say that equity is our north star. And I couldn't agree more. During week one of this administration, President Biden established the historic Justice40 Initiative. The Justice40 Initiative directs 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to frontline disadvantaged communities. And so, these investments are investments in clean energy and climate change, energy efficiency, and the remediation and reduction of legacy pollution. This is historic. And my job in my office, in the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, is to implement that historic Justic40 Initiative through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and through our standard appropriated funds.
So, this past year in our office DOE released the Energy Justice Dashboard, which is a dashboard used to track and manage DOE-specific investments and benefits related to the Justice40 Initiative. This dashboard serves as the scaffolding for us to realize benefits in front line disadvantaged communities. And it now serves as a tool to provide internal and external stakeholders visibility into DOE's progress toward the Justice40 Initiative.
At DOE we also launched the Justice40 Community of Practice to partner with DOE Justice40 programs and covered programs across the complex and to identify Justice40-related benefits, determine how programs can distribute benefits to disadvantaged communities, and to amplify DOE's Justice40 investments.
So, in closing I'll say that I'm so honored to be a part of this team at the Department of Energy. And every day we make hard decisions. Every day we are leaning in on the equity aspects of our mission. This department holds a deep commitment to ensuring that this transition, this clean energy transition is an equitable one. But we can't do that work, this very difficult work without intense collaboration, including collaboration with community-based stakeholders, the environmental justice community, and other stakeholders to ensure that all voices are heard as we work to advance a clean energy future.
So, we can do this. I fully believe we can do this. We have the tools. We have the team—and actually, we have an extraordinary team. And we now have a framework, Justice40, to combat the climate crisis and transform communities. So, I'm going to stay the course. And we need all of you, every single one of you, to help us in this fight. And I hope you will join us to center equity in this transition. Thank you so much.