Talk About Energy During CBC

October 27th, 2010

The Congressional Black Caucus 2010 Annual Legislative Conference is over and, from an energy and environmental policy perspective, it was, by far, the most engaging legislative conference in the Caucus history. Moreover, your Association was substantially engaged in many aspects of this remarkable program.

The most involved CBC member again this year was Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee from Houston, Texas. The congressional representative hosted the Critical Issues in Climate Change Symposium, a day long series of sessions sponsored by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the AABE in conjunction with her annual Energy Braintrust. The Symposium addressed a series of topics including connecting environmental justice with science, policy and practice; how smart growth can scale up equity in transportation, housing and other related areas; and stimulating trade, investment, technology transfer and development between the U.S. and Africa. Members of the AABE were speakers and presenters throughout the symposium including Dr. Warren Washington from the National Center for Atmospheric Research and past Chair, Carolyn Green. Some of you may recall that Dr. Washington is 2010 recipient of our organization’s most prestigious honor, the James E. Stewart Award.

During her Energy Braintrust, Congresswoman Lee invited a distinguished panel to address how climate and energy are shaping US policy. Among those panelists was Dot Harris, Synergy Leader at General Electric Power Company and AABE board member.

In addition to Congresswoman Lee, other CBC members also hosted braintrusts that addressed energy issues. Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina hosted a session that discussed how the U.S. Department of Energy was including African American businesses and institutions in its contracting for procurement of goods and various grants and contracts for other work, including university research. A key participant in the discussion was the former Vice Chancellor of North Carolina A&T University, AABE’s university partner.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of New York hosted a panel discussion about asking how we take on the business opportunities that are available in this new green economy. Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California focused on the BP Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the impacts that it has had on the people of the Gulf region. Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina held a panel discussion looking at new technologies that would reduce America’s dependence on foreign supplies of energy.

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In addition to a full energy agenda during the CBC Legislative weekend, the association also had a full agenda for its business meetings. During the Chapter President’s meeting, David Owens, Chair of the Legislative Issues and Public Policy Committee, shared the current energy and climate legislation and the administration’s efforts to jumpstart the transition to a smart grid. He was very clear on the opportunities for AABE Chapters to be of support to the companies of AABE members and to the energy industry by ensuring that our communities know about the smart grid efforts and understand the benefits that the smart grid could hold for them.

Michael Blake, Associate Director of Public Engagement for the White House spoke at a luncheon where he provided an in-depth view of the efforts that the Administration is making in the areas of energy and environment. Michael also spoke strongly to the need for everyone to take an active role in the political process at the local, state, and federal levels.

The National Office was honored to have hosted a delegation of energy business leaders from the nation of South Africa that was led by Michael Sudarkasa, President of the African Business Group. Other members of the delegation included J. Eric Wright of Africa Venture Partners, Sol Masolo of City Power, Lehlohonolo Nakedi of Lehadima Investments, Sindi Moloto of the Gauteng Economic Development Agency, and Harry Mohloare of KYD Consulting Engineers. While in the U.S., the delegation visited Bennett College for Women, North Carolina A&T University and the AABE Institute to review the potential capability to address some of the training needs faced by energy concerns on the Continent. After two days in Greensboro, the delegation moved to the Washington, D.C. area for a symposium at Georgetown University and a series of federal agency meetings and business discussions. Bennett College, A&T University and AABE are firmly committed to working with the energy business community in South Africa and all three are anticipating extensive further contact and discussions before the end of the calendar year.

With the success of the September Board Meeting, we at the National Office continue to be excited about all the opportunities that lie ahead for the AABE. We look forward to pursuing those opportunities and to working with you all.