U.S. Department of Energy officials stop in Port Arthur to discuss the future of industry

Published 7:25 pm Tuesday, June 13, 2023

City, county and state leaders, as well as industry representatives and community members, joined together Tuesday as the U.S. Department of Energy brought the Energy Justice to the People Roadshow to the Carl A. Parker Multipurpose Center at Lamar State College Port Arthur.

It was one of several stops along the Gulf Coast to discuss the goal for a future using clean energy and fighting climate change.

“We are so pleased to be here on behalf of the Department of Justice and the Biden Administration to be able to be a partner with energy communities like Port Arthur,” said U.S.  Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.

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“We are really interested in helping the community in whatever way the community feels is necessary to be able to create jobs, to be able to make sure that pollution and air quality is good. Excited especially to be able to take advantage — to have the community take advantage — of some of the incentives in the Investing in America agenda.”

Granholm said those incentives involve building decarbonization technologies to remove emissions from the traditional fossil industry, as well as capitalize on wind and solar energies.

“We’re here because Port Arthur is special,” said Shalanda Baker, Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. “You can look out of the window and see just how special it is in terms of the…volume and high number of petrochemical facilities and gas facilities in this community. We know that communities have raised their families deriving benefits from many of the…refineries in this community.”

Baker said her family is from Port Arthur, with her father previously working in the industry, as her brother currently works in Sabine Pass.

“We have a historic and unprecedented moment that we’re currently in,” Baker said. “We’re right in the middle of implementing historic funding to fight climate change. Here in the Department of Energy we have $100 billion that is dedicated to our climate emergency and to transitioning to a clean energy future.”

Granholm said the goal of the agenda is to have all communities participate, particularly those that are more economically disadvantaged.

“We want to make sure that both community colleges as well as universities as well as K-12 systems understand that a lot of the jobs that are set to be created in this clean energy world are jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree,” she said.

“They require some sort of skills certification. And when I say a lot, I mean 70 percent of the jobs do not require a four-year degree and yet they pay really well.”

Topics discussed during the event included energy justice from the perspective of local leaders, a look into federal funding from the perspective of the DOE, and a discussion on energy futures.

The roadshow continues Thursday in Lake Charles.