In an interview with theGrio, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm discussed President Joe Biden’s interest in investing in Black neighborhoods and Black educational institutions.
“My first venture out in this COVID environment was to Howard University… it was to announce a $17 million opportunity to DOE [Department of Energy] offering to support college internships and research projects and opportunities and to bolster investment in underrepresented use in minority-serving institutions,” Granholm told the publication.
Howard University is conducting research on convert fossil fuels to low-cost hydrogen. Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris’ alma mater, received $400,000 for their energy research.
“If you don’t have diverse researchers at the table, your research product, whatever it is, is going to not be as effective. So, for example, when we have all this face recognition software out there, all this artificial intelligence, well, they’re the way MIS identifies African-American faces, especially in law enforcement,” Granholm said.
“Well, if you have more people of color who are on the teams doing the development of that software and that technology, then you will not have that problem. When cars first got seatbelts, they were made for male bodies and women got more and more injured in crashes as a result.”
The Biden infrastructure plan includes adding eclectic vehicles and 500,000 charging stations in urban and rural areas. According to a 2021 paper published by International Council on Clean Transporation, African-Americans and Latino car buyers only account for 12% of electric vehicle purchases.
“We need them available [electric vehicle power stations] to everybody,” Gina McCarthy, the Biden administration’s National Climate Advisor, said.
Through the American Rescue Plan, a more diverse group of companies supporting environmental justice through Justice40 will receive contracts. Justice40 is an initiative that directs 40% of clean energy investments to underserved communities.
“[Y]ou’re going to see more minority businesses actually getting federal business moving forward. You are going to see us investing in the communities that need those investments first,” McCarthy said.
“We have to have diverse participation in the design of these products and the research of them. And that’s why we need to increase the diversity in our laboratories, but of our stem, our science, technology, engineering and math workforce,” Granholm said.