On March 18, several federal agencies including the Department of the Interior and Department of Energy met with community, industry, government, and academic leaders in Charleston, WV to discuss strategies for achieving a just transition to a clean energy future.
U.S. Secretaries Jennifer Granholm and Deb Haaland joined Senator Joe Manchin to announce the creation of a battery storage manufacturing facility in West Virginia that would both create high quality local jobs and support energy independence for the United States. This public-private project is one of many that will be funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and is representative of a focus on greater Appalachia and post-industrial regions that once fueled America’s economy but are also at risk of being left behind as the country works towards carbon neutrality.
The day’s key activities included a press conference, a conversation with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, a visit to reclaimed coal mines, and a listening session with the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities. GBA’s Jenna Cramer was invited to participate in the listening session as a representative who could shed light on the importance of community-led strategies, given GBA’s tradition of human-centered design at various scales of the built environment and commitment to solutions that prioritize climate, health, equity, and the economy.
When asked for her perspective, Jenna shared with the group that “a big ethos we hold at GBA is meeting people where they are and doing so in their own communities… If we look through the lens of the built environment, there is a huge opportunity because it’s not only one of the biggest impacts on climate change, but also social equity, health, and the economy. There is so much opportunity within those leverage points to have higher quality of life and really engage communities so they can see the benefits.”
Citing a decade’s worth of work and relationships between GBA and several communities in West Virginia, Jenna noted that “there is so much similarity between West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania regarding the social fabric of our communities. Giving these communities access to resources and truly transforming the way we look at the built environment, we can see that it’s about workforce development, supply chain, and energy independence. These are all things people can see and feel in their daily lives, and this is a big space where communities can thrive.”
While attending the event, Jenna and GBA’s Megan Zeigler also spoke with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, and Economic Development Agency. The showing in West Virginia signals a federal commitment to ensuring that the country can achieve a clean energy future while providing opportunities for everyone.
Jenna and members of her team had the honor of meeting Secretary Granholm in November 2021 at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland and will help the region welcome the Department of Energy to Pittsburgh for the Clean Energy Ministerial in September 2022. Additionally, GBA celebrated Secretary Haaland in our recent blog celebrating Women’s History Month.
Read more about the news surrounding the joint announcement here: