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From “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana to uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, the U.S. energy industry’s pollution burden has long fallen disproportionately on low-income and BIPOC communities. Dr. Tony Reames wants you to know the U.S. Department of Energy is serious about changing that history.
Reames, who’s featured in a new profile from the Energy News Network’s Audrey Henderson, is the DOE’s deputy director for energy justice. He works under the department’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, which has existed for decades but has waxed and waned in its importance under different presidential administrations.
Under the Biden administration, Reames’ job is more important than ever. The DOE is implementing energy provisions from two huge infrastructure packages passed under President Biden, and has to ensure 40% of all federal investments go to disadvantaged, disinvested and environmental justice communities. That includes making clean energy and efficiency projects affordable for low-income homeowners and renters, and making sure underserved groups benefit from new clean energy jobs.
“We want a workforce that looks like America. We want project teams that look like America,” Reames said.
But there’s still a lot of work to be done before that happens, Reames acknowledged.
“We’re working through years of a system that has created these injustices,” Dr. Reames said. “And this won’t change overnight. But at some point, it will get to a place where [addressing equity issues] is just the way we do business.”
More clean energy news
Science gets ‘controversial’: An Ohio higher education bill could bar instructors from teaching climate science and other “controversial” subjects without also including false or misleading counterpoints. (Energy News Network)
EV tax credits coming soon: The Treasury Department will release domestic sourcing requirements for electric vehicle tax credits this week, which could scramble incentives for U.S. companies relying on Chinese technology. (E&E News)
New climate lawsuit targets: A wave of lawsuits against oil and gas companies over climate impacts has airlines, financial institutions and other corporations worried they’ll be targeted next. (E&E News)
Gas fights to stay relevant: Natural gas leaders use conferences, sponsorships and other strategies to cozy up to utility regulators as the industry fights to justify a role for itself in the clean energy transition. (Grist)
EVs leave automaking communities behind: The transition to electric vehicles is leaving some workers and communities behind as automakers and suppliers downsize production for gas-powered vehicles. (Washington Post)
Oil giants on campus: Dozens of U.S. universities keep close ties with the fossil fuel industry, including Princeton, where an ExxonMobil employee was given an office and allowed to lead lectures and research groups debating climate action. (Guardian)
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