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White House Advisory Committee Provides Environmental Justice Recommendations

Tim TarpleyAnalysis by Energy Workforce SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley

The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council released a 91-page document recommending energy investment policies for the Biden Administration. The Advisory Council’s recommendations are not binding, but they do provide a window into the administration’s thinking and likely priorities.

The document defined “environmental justice communities” as high majority-minority populations or high rates of health disparities, food deserts, children receiving school lunch programs, poorly maintained housing stock and low-educational attainment. The Advisory Council identified energy projects where government investment could target these communities.

The projects includ renewable energy, clean energy jobs training, regenerative agriculture, managed retreat for communities effected by climate change, clean drinking water, community microgrids and green housing.

Most notable is the explicit exclusion of carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power and direct air capture projects. The Advisory Council wrote that market-based programs like cap-and-trade do not benefit the targeted communities and should not be eligible for government funding.

Another surprise was the Advisory Council’s recommendation that the administration should ban FEMA funds from going to any U.S. fossil fuel generation project. If adopted, this policy would prohibit disaster relief funds from being used to repair or replace fossil fuel infrastructure damaged in national disasters or by acts of terrorism.

The recommendations will be reviewed by The White House Interagency Council on Environmental Justice.

The Energy Workforce & Technology Council will track these recommendations as they make their way through the process and will continue to advocate that oil and natural gas projects can provide significant benefits to all Americans and should not be prohibited from receiving government support.

Colonial Pipeline Fallout

The Colonial Pipeline came back online last weekend and began to quench the energy demand up the U.S. eastern seaboard. On Tuesday morning, the pipeline began having network issues affecting a scheduling system that left customers unable to access fuel shipments in some situations. Colonial is working to restart the system. The latest hurdle puts an exclamation point on the vulnerability exposed by the cyberattack on the pipeline.

Policymakers in Washington, DC and across the country are coming to the harsh realization that the country’s energy infrastructure is not adequately protected from cyber-attacks. While details are still forthcoming about the full nature of the latest attack, initial reports from U.S. intelligence are that it was perpetrated by a Russian criminal gang.

If true, it’s disturbing that a non-state actor had the capability to take out gas supply for 45% of the U.S. east coast. Policymakers are rightfully worried about the mayhem that could have been wreaked by a state actor with more sophisticated capabilities.

Upgrading the U.S. energy system won’t be easy or cheap. The American system is comprised of competing companies operating a vast web of energy collection and distribution systems. Each part of the network needs upgraded security.

Funding for enhanced security will likely come from a combination of private sector and government spending. President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure bill contains $100 billion to fortify the grid. We can anticipate federal and state lawmakers to call for additional spending in this area in the coming months.

The Council will monitor developments and advocate for our members to use their expertise in this process.

For more information on the Council’s advocacy efforts or to get involved, contact SVP Government Affairs & Counsel Tim Tarpley

Tim Tarpley, SVP Government Affairs & Counsel, analyzes federal policy for the Energy Workforce & Technology Council. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights sector-specific issues, best practices, Council activities and more.



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