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U.S. DOE official describes new energy justice initiative at UH Law Center’s 5th Annual North American Environment, Energy, & Natural Resources Conference

May 14, 2021 - Shalanda Baker discussed aspects of the Biden administration’s approach to energy policy on Tuesday during a virtual University of Houston Law Center presentation. Baker, the first-ever Deputy Director for Energy Justice & Secretary's Advisor on Equity, was the
keynote speaker at the 5th Annual North American Environment, Energy, & Natural Resources Conference, "Energy, & Natural Resources Conference, Environmental Social Governance (ESG): Major Mover Towards Sustainable Energy Future."

Baker discussed the Justice40 Initiative, which promises that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments, including investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, sustainable housing and more, must flow to disadvantaged communities.

“Energy justice is about enhancing energy democracy,” Baker said. "We’re at a crossroads. We can keep relying on what got us into this injustice, or we can choose a harder pathway but one that is more just and makes our communities more resilient.”

During the event, Baker discussed the origins of her involvement in fighting for energy justice and how communities of color are disproportionately affected by pollution and energy injustice, and the difference between energy burden and energy insecurity. Energy burden is the percentage of household income that goes to energy costs, while energy insecurity is defined as lacking reliable access to uninterrupted energy sources at an affordable price.

“The higher the burden, the higher the insecurity,” she said.” One in three Americans experiences some sort of energy insecurity.”

Baker has spent over a decade researching the equity dimensions of the global
transition away from fossil fuel energy to cleaner energy resources. In 2016, she received
a Fulbright-Garcia-Robles research fellowship to study climate change, energy policy
and indigenous rights in Mexico.

The conference began with a panel titled, "ESG Facts and Figures and the Renewable Bump." Speakers included Ramanan Krishnamoorti, the director of UH Energy, and Blank Rome attorneys Joan Bondareff and Stacy Louizos.

The following discussion, "ESG, Financial Disclosure, and ESG Rating Agencies," featured Yelena Barychev from Blank Rome and Michael Vandenbergh from Vanderbilt University.

The third panel was titled “The Status in Canada and Mexico” and featured speakers Dean Ian Holloway from the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, Fenner Stewart from the University of Calgary Faculty of Law and Elizabeth Trujillo, Chair of the UH Global Law and Policy for the Americas and UH EENR affiliate.

The fourth panel was a discussion with Dean Leonard M. Baynes on ESG and the Future of the Energy Business and included Kay McCall ‘84, Executive Director, Energy Renewable Alliance; Niko Lorentzatos ‘95, EVP & General Counsel, Oasis Petroleum; William E. Turcotte ‘89, SVP, Gen. Counsel & Corp. Sec. Noble Holding Corporation plc; and Kason Kerr ‘09, VP and General Counsel, Ultra Petroleum.

The final panel, "Connecting the ‘Social’ to Environment and Climate," featured Sophia Lee, and Susan Bickley ‘84 from Blank Rome, Law Center professor Gina Warren and student Shreya Patel.

The event was hosted by the Law Center's Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Center. Sponsors included Blank Rome, LLP, UH Energy, the Energy Transition Governance and Law Project (funded by the European Union and with the University of Lyon III), the Law Center's Initiative for Global Law and Policy (GLPA), the University of Calgary Faculty of Law, the Universidad Nacional Autonoma De Mexico (UNAM), Universidad Tecnologica de Monterrey, and the Universidad Anuhuac.

Click here to watch the complete event: "Energy, & Natural Resources Conference, Environmental Social Governance (ESG): Major Mover Towards Sustainable Energy Future.”

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