WASHINGTON, April 29, 2016 /PRNewswire-HISPANIC PR WIRE/ — The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) concluded a successful two-day Energy & Environment Summit, which was held in Washington, DC, that brought together dozens of state legislators, federal government officials, industry experts, and advocates, among others to discuss the many ways in which energy issues impact Latino communities across the country. Panel discussions focused on a variety of specific topics ranging from the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and the interrelation between energy and Clean Water Act to Weighing the Costs of Energy Diversity, the Grid, and Consumer Protection and Innovation and the Workforce, and other relevant topics. Most panelists agreed that the nation’s 54 million Latinos have a crucial role to play in shaping energy and environmental policies.
The keynote speech for the event was delivered by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Secretary Salazar spoke about the need to diversify the energy workforce, emphasizing that in 10 years, more than 50% of electricity workers will retire and therefore Latinos have a crucial role to play in making sure the industry looks like America.
Salazar also reminded the audience of the bipartisan consensus on reaching energy independence, which was once thought to top 70% in oil imports by 2020, and now oil imports are projected to be as low as 20% of the total amount consumed in the country.
Salazar also warned of the need for energy independence with the urgency of “protecting our planet from extinction” due to climate change.
In addition to Salazar, summit participants heard from Dr. Otto Schwake of Virginia Tech University, who was key member of the team of researchers who conducted the Flint Water Study in the aftermath of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Other expert panelists included: Janet McCabe of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lola Infante of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Sam Jamal of Solar City, Mark Magaña of Green Latinos, among other industry and advocacy representatives. Francisco Carrillo, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs at the US Department of Energy, served as a moderator for a portion of the second day’s discussions.
State Legislators were also able to visit the White House, where they met with US Secretary of Education John King, Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Jerry Abramson, and other officials from the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The Energy Summit took place with the backdrop of the 2016 elections where the Latino vote will play a pivotal role in deciding the future of the country. With this in mind, NHCSL President and Pennsylvania State Representative, Ángel Cruz said that, “it is simply unacceptable that there are 27 million eligible Latino voters but only 13 million are expected to turnout in November. In order to change this, we need to engage our community on issues that have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of their families.”
With regard to the principal issue discussed during the Summit, Cruz added that, “the issue of energy affects our means of transportation, our economic wellbeing, our changing climate, and the safety of our workforce. We must also look at energy as a way to innovate and harness our technological capabilities to more efficiently use the limited resources we have available. This will take careful policymaking, striking the right compromises, and having an open mind to new and exciting ways to approach the many issues surrounding energy policy.”
The NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 390 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.