U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

GEI’s Harbert Discusses Global Energy Opportunities with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute

By Matt Letourneau

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) is dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to learn about and pursue careers in public service.  It was fitting then that CHCI’s latest policy summit focused on energy, which is providing numerous opportunities for our entire nation to prosper.

CHCI’s energy summit at the Newseum kicked off today with remarks by Congressman Darren Soto (FL) and Bill Flores (TX), who highlighted the challenges that lawmakers face, including issues like energy storage.  Sempra Energy’s Dennis Arriola also delivered a keynote address, highlighting the fact that America’s economy cannot grow with energy.  While Sempra’s employee base is almost 37% Hispanic, Arriola noted that number industry wise is just 12% overall.   As the workforce ages, he called for a greater focus on recruiting younger workers and making sure opportunities exist for the next generation of Hispanic leaders to be attracted to the energy industry.

A highlight of the summit was a panel discussion moderated by Axios’ Steve Levine on Fostering Effective Collaboration Between Key Stakeholders in Energy.  One of the stakeholders represented was GEI president and CEO Karen Harbert, who started off the panel by declaring “I’m an energy optimist.”  There’s good reason for her optimism.

Harbert explained how the global energy market has turned in America’s favor.  “The people who we used to import from are now losing market share to us,” she said.  She noted that the Northern American energy block has more resources than any other area in the world, and that is both a blessing and a major opportunity.  Both Harbert and Arriola called for the modernization of NAFTA pointing to the huge energy trade that underpins the economic advantage of the US economy.

“90% of the demand for energy between now and 2050 is going to come from the developing world, and the U.S. is projected to supply 60% of it,” Harbert said.  “With continued investment in technology and innovation, that means that America has the opportunity to make the world cleaner and make energy more affordable for those who need it.”

With several members of the President’s cabinet testifying at a Senate hearing today on infrastructure, Harbert closed by emphasizing the need for reforms—regardless of what your vision is for energy in the future.  “Whatever kind of molecule or electron it is, if we can’t move it, we won’t use it,” she said.  “We have a huge problem in this country that China doesn’t have—it takes too darn long to build something.  If we don’t get serious about permitting reform, these new technologies won’t get to market.”

GEI will continue to partner with organizations like CHCI to help invest in awareness of energy opportunities and the need to attract tomorrow’s workforce to the high tech environment that is now today’s energy industry. 

 

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