On Friday, the American Council for Capital Formation and the National Association of Neighborhoods hosted a panel discussion on how domestic energy production has impacted communities of color at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Washington. The panel featured a variety of experts who all agreed that continued growth in the energy sector, in particular by increasing energy exports, is key to bringing economic gains to minority communities.
Ricardo Byrd, executive director of the National Association of Neighborhoods, led the discussion as moderator with a series of questions on America’s “energy renaissance” and how it affects “our poorest rural and urban neighborhoods.” Dr. Margo Thorning, ACCF’s Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, focused on the macroeconomic benefits communities around the country would receive if the ban on crude oil exports is lifted.
“The United States continues to sit on the global sidelines by refusing to adopt a 21st century energy policy that takes full advantage of our energy resources,” said Dr. Thorning. “And those abundant resources, unimaginable forty years ago, now put us in the position to become a powerful player on the world’s energy stage. The significant economic benefits that would result – increased economic growth, more jobs for Americans and downward pressure on gas prices – are undeniable. Today’s discussion makes clear that it is finally time for the United States to embrace an energy policy that reflects the reality of our energy present, not the ghosts of our energy past.”
Paula Jackson, President and CEO of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, also participated on the panel and worked to dispel the claim that lifting the ban would only benefit big oil companies. She said allowing crude oil exports would be a boost to employees and help the economy grow. “Companies that don’t make money don’t survive. Those employees and those communities suffer,” Ms. Jackson said.
Inside Sources covered the discussion and published an article which quoted Ms. Jackson’s insightful comments on the benefits of energy exports for minority communities.
Bill Dickens, Senior Utilities Economists for Tacoma Power also discussed how the energy community is changing communities of color for the better and the importance of minority outreach when it comes to spreading the word about job opportunities available.
It is clear that supporting crude oil exports is a policy change that will provide job opportunities, especially for minorities. Specifically, an IHS study from March 2014 reports that of the 1.3 million job opportunities available in the oil and natural gas industry between now and 2030, nearly 408,000 – or 32 percent – will be filled by African American and Hispanic workers, with women accounting for 185,000 jobs. However, Washington’s foot-dragging on this issue threatens to close the window of opportunity to sustain the booming domestic energy industry that can clearly be a win-win for Americans.