Thirty-seven years ago, the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) was created to make sure that people of color were positioned to make meaningful inputs on a variety of energy policy issues, like the development of energy regulations, R&D technologies, and environmental issues. Continuing this tradition, AABE will host its 2015 Energy Policy Summit on February 26-27 at the W Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Energy has increasingly become a hot topic among policymakers at all levels of government, and given new technological innovations and environmental concerns, changes within the sector have made energy a key focal point for business leaders as well. AABE’s President Paula Jackson sees the energy sector as one ripe for opportunity for people of color. “We believe that energy is the engine that will fuel the American economy for the next several decades,” she told Politic365. As such, the AABE energy policy summit is all about driving discussion among a variety of stakeholders from the non-profit to for-profit spaces about the socioeconomic impact of energy policy. Opportunities abound in this space for jobs and small businesses, and concerns are raised at every turn about workforce readiness, environmental justice and cost allocation. AABE has positioned itself as a go-to convener of dialogue on these issues, and the organization and its members are passionate about getting communities of color up to speed in energy space.
“Lets face the truth that many Americans have a low level of energy literacy,” Jackson said. “Energy policy isn’t limited to the regulation of energy corporations or the ability of consumers to pay their utility bill. Energy policy impacts many areas of our daily lives.” As Jackson sees it, people often harbor a misconception that “utility companies aren’t interested in engaging their customers or those who represent them. In fact, these companies want to engage their customers, they want their customers to be more informed. The summit provides an opportunity for communities to begin to understand the perspectives of their companies, policy makers and others around specific policy issues. When energy installations are constructed in or around communities it directly affects the economic opportunities and the quality of life in that community. When natural gas production changes the balance of supply and demand we feel the impact directly in our pockets, and when federal energy policies are implemented at the State level the safety and well being of our communities must be a part of the basic consideration.”
A host of influencers are slated to join in on the day and a half long conference, including Congressman G. K. Butterfield, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus; Congressman James E. Clyburn, Assistant Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives; Congressman Fred Upton, Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee; Congressman Bobby Rush, Ranking Member, House Energy & Power Subcommittee; Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming, Chief of Staff, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Marc Morial, President, National Urban League; Thomas Kuhn, President, Edison Electric Institute; The Honorable Colette Honorable, Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; The Honorable Robert Kenney, Chairman, Missouri Public Service Commission; The Honorable Carolene Mays-Medley, Commissioner, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; Monica Martinez, President, Hispanics in Energy; Jack Gerard, President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute; Ken Salazar, former Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior; Spencer Overton, Interim President & CEO, Joint Center for Economic & Political Studies; and many others.
As topics for the 2015 #AABEPolicySummit range from the implementation of federal legislation, the President’s Climate Action Plan, or even the changing economics of energy production, distribution and management, this event will provide an opportunity to educate, empower, and inform leaders and the people they serve and represent. “There is much work to be done,” Jackson said, “and we are in the position and have a responsibility to be full participants in the process.”
Jackson aptly conveyed the importance of this convening when she noted, “within the next few years, America will transition from a net energy user economy to a net energy exporter. Increased domestic resources provide this opportunity, as does increased utilization of renewable energy resources, as well as energy efficiency. However, our ability to sustain that position is directly tied to federal and local legislation and regulation.” By engaging their stakeholder organizations and conducting outreach to an array of new community partners, AABE looks to increase opportunities for meaningful dialogue about the policies that are shaping our very lives. “We are not talking about a 20-year plan or a 10 or 5 year plan,” she says, “these issues are real and significant today. Our energy future has already started and if we are not at the table of discussion NOW, we are already late.”
To learn more or register for this summit, please visit: http://aabeconferences.org/2015aabesummit/.