Earth Day Live voiced a new topic earlier in the week, specifically addressing how the United States will accelerate its fight against climate change, focusing on infrastructure repair and enhancement for climate regeneration. Most interestingly, two key speakers included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator, Michael S. Regan, and the Department of Energy Secretary, Jennifer M. Granholm. Additional panelists are recognized leaders in the nation’s attempts to battle climate change.
Panelists Michael S. Regan and Jennifer M. Granholm
Michael S. Regan took his position when he was sworn in as Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in March 2011. Hailing from Goldsboro, North Carolina, Regan served his home state as the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). While stationed in his leadership role, he spearheaded the biggest clean-up of coal ash in the history of the United States.
Regan continued his progressive tenure by establishing North Carolina’s Environmental Justice and Equity Advisory board. Its purpose is to seek and promote a balance between social inequities, environmental protection, and community empowerment.
Additional roles found in Regan’s repertoire include his past service as Associate Vice President of the U.S. Climate and Energy and also as the Southwest Regional Director of the Environmental Defense Fund. Here he solicited top officials across the country to develop solutions geared toward the climate crisis.
Sworn into office on February 25, 2021, Jennifer M. Granholm became the Secretary of the United States Department of Energy. She is tasked with guiding the DOE in further developing clean-energy technologies, creating an abundance of good-paying clean-energy jobs, and building an economically acceptable clean-energy future.
Granholm is also responsible for supervising the DOE’s primary missions of promoting domestic leadership in scientific discovery and correcting harmful environmental impacts resulting from legacy defense programs.
Moderator Rose McKinney-James
Having assumed the role of moderator for the Earth Day Live discussion, Rose McKinney-James formerly served as the CEO for the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources (CSTRR). Her resume includes the positions of Commissioner with the Nevada Public Service Commission and as the state’s first Director of the Department of Business and Industry. She currently resides as the CEO and Managing Principal of Energy Works LLC and McKinney-James and Associates, which offers business consulting and advocacy services in the public affairs arena as well as sustainability, climate, and clean energy regulations.
Completing her well-rounded persona, McKinney-James is the current Board Chair of the U.S. Energy Foundation. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of MGM Resorts International, MGM Detroit, ClearResult, Ioneer, Toyota Financial Savings Bank, and NACD PSW.
With the world remaining focused on the future of energy, Granholm described the current state of affairs as not a worrisome event but instead as a massive opportunity in clean energy. The global clean-energy market is projected to reign at $23 trillion. She sees this as an incredible financial investment paired with the good in addressing climate change. Granholm looks to the future and sees a clear path to something better. With such a large market, she sees clean air, an endless amount of good-paying jobs, and lower energy costs.
Administrator Regan weighed in and credited the Biden administration with this push to clean energy. He said that since President Biden took office and is committed to changing the face of energy, these positive outcomes of lower energy costs and increased jobs can become a reality.
Moderator McKinney-James asked how the Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Bill can route a path to clean energy. Administrator Regan stated the bill is historical in nature and not only gives back to the country in areas of manufacturing and processing, but the jobs created will greatly impact the economy. Granholm added that the most significant impact of the Infrastructure Bill is that by 2035, the United States will use 100% clean energy.
Moderator McKinney-James indicated that often some communities are left behind and asked how the panelists thought the Biden administration and the EPA are addressing climate change while addressing these communities. Administrator Regan indicated that the administration’s policies will be carried out with a keen awareness of where they are needed the most.
When asked how the Biden-Harris campaign will achieve the goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035, Secretary Granholm said that by addressing it on a national level, incentives can be implemented for each state. Through innovation and deployment, policies will enable success.
Moderator McKinney-James shared a popular sentiment heard across the globe in that humanity is solely responsible for climate change. As a result, a “whole of government approach” is being used to combat climate change. Secretary Granholm ratified the thought process indicating that climate change is such a large problem that it cannot be dealt with by individual groups and departments. Instead, a unified approach must be implemented. She cited an example of the government instituting higher clean energy standards for homes and applying initiatives for clean energy businesses.
“We are strongest when we can work across the government,” said Secretary Granholm.
Administrator Regan echoed Secretary Granholm’s points and added that President Biden created a National Crisis Task Force composed of key agencies to steer this work to success.
“The EPA’s role is to protect human health and the environment,” said Administrator Regan. “That is the role we have taken in this Task Force.”
While the overall theme of the Earth Day Live discussion hovered around a better United Stated combined with an improved life for its constituents through clean energy and lower costs, the present day does not necessarily reflect such great progress. The price at the pump is high and dictated by external countries. With oil and gas projects, especially from the pipeline arena, being canceled and postponed, many industry workers have found themselves unemployed.
As talk of retraining populates the news channels, many are still waiting for it to be a reality. Others could have potentially been passed by, much like the speculated lower-income communities when it comes to clean-energy environments and unavailable infrastructure capabilities.
The harsh reality clearly reveals that while the push to clean energy is made in such a drastic measure without proper preparation, the constituents will suffer. If clean energy is the better way, then let it be market-driven and naturally prevail. Sandbagging fossil fuels for the sake of clean energy is premature and dangerous. Instead, it should be a safe and well-planned transition that accommodates all citizens of all races and income demographics.