NPR, June 2021
Capitol Hill lawmakers Tuesday questioned one of President Biden’s top picks for the Department of Energy, a woman with a history of activism who will help shape the administration’s focus on environmental justice. Shalanda Baker already works at the department in a newly-created role of Deputy Director for Energy Justice. Her confirmation hearing is for a promotion to become Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact.
Baker introduced herself by talking about her parents. She says her father grew up next to one of the largest refineries in the world in Port Arthur, Texas, and made a good living in the energy industry. Baker described her mother’s home as “energy insecure” and said these experiences will inform her work at the department.
“Like one in three American households, 52.2% of Black American households, and 61.5% of Native American households, we used the oven to warm our apartment in Austin, Texas, where I grew up,” Baker told senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Baker is a former Air Force officer and a law professor at Northeastern University. She co-founded and co-directed the Initiative for Energy Justice. An Energy Department announcement for her nomination mentions Baker’s recent book Revolutionary Power: An Activist’s Guide to the Energy Transition, where she “argues that the technical terrain of energy policy should be the next domain to advance civil rights.”