The Honorable James E. Campos: Advancing Equity in Energy

The Honorable James E. Campos says opportunity exists for all minority groups at the DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity — particularly for Native Americans.

The Honorable James E. Campos, nominated by ­­­­the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate on April 9, 2018, as Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the United States Department of Energy (DOE), is determined to increase outreach and communication with all minority groups concerning opportunities in energy.

It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s critical to national security, he said, and Native Americans are essential to that. “They make up 2-3% of our population, but it’s much larger in terms of energy output and capacity,” Campos told Native Business.

Campos established the Equity in EnergyTM initiative to expand the participation of individuals from underserved communities in the energy sector. Equity in Energy also seeks to infuse and expand participation in the private energy sectors in the U.S. economy to ensure America’s energy independence.

Campos recently spoke with Native Business about the five pillars that support Equity in Energy: STEM Enhancement, Workforce Development, Supplier Diversity, Technical Assistance, and Interest & Access. 

STEM Enhancement

STEM enhancement is a critical anchor of the Equity in Energy movement, Campos emphasized. The United States will need approximately 1 million more college graduates with STEM training by 2022 than the nation is currently on track to produce. “This is an area in which Native Americans play a large part with helping us fill those positions, but also it’s an opportunity where there’s very good jobs and opportunity to grow within energy,” Campos said.

“Energy is our new economy, it is our new currency, and Native Americans play a large part in this equation,” Campos emphasized.

Workforce Development

The Office of Economic Impact and Diversity has a Congressional mandate to interact and work with all of the DOE’s 22 offices, and every DOE office will participate in Equity in Energy. Opportunities abound from fossil energy to electric, nuclear, renewables, etc. Campos’ office is tasked with communicating those opportunities, particularly as it relates to workforce development. “We’re leading conversations around opportunity and how that interplays with Native American land and labor,” he said.

On September 24, 2019, Campos hosted the first-ever Equity in Energy Tribal Stakeholder Discussion, “Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies to Reduce Disparities within the Energy Sector,” at the National Tribal Energy Summit in Washington, D.C. (Photo Courtesy National Conference of State Legislatures)

Supplier Diversity

Supplier diversity is another core focus of the Equity in Energy initiative. Campos pointed to the purchasing power of the 17 national labs across the country. “Many of these national labs are located near Tribal lands and areas home to large Native American populations,” said Campos, pointing to Sandia National Laboratories, which spends about $1 billion each year on purchases of products and services to meet its national security missions.

Within the supplier diversity pillar, the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity hosts Minority Business Industry Day, which connects diverse businesses to the energy sector including national labs.

Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance is a vital next step. “Technical assistance can either be in supplier diversity opportunities, procurement opportunities, or opportunities within the workforce,” Campos said. “Across the board for minority groups, there’s a lack of technical assistance to assist in a transition into those opportunities.” The Office of Economic Impact and Diversity is committed to changing that.

Interest & Access

Campos is working to raise the visibility of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. “We have to make aware that this office exists. It exists for this country, it exists for our future sustainability and the viability of energy in the United States,” he said. 

Evidence of his commitment to raise the profile of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity is Campos’ participation in the 2nd Annual Native Business Summit, taking place September 1-3, 2020, at the Hard Rock Hotel Resort and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “That is very important to be there with Gary [Davis] and to be able to showcase what we’re doing with Equity in Energy, and how we’re here to assist Native American communities. It’s one of my priorities,” Campos said. 

RELATED: Native Business Leadership on the Corporate & Federal Stages in 2019 

The best partnership with his office is a symbiotic relationship, added Campos, suggesting that more Tribes and organizations invite his office to speak to their communities.

Campos concluded his conversation with Native Business with a reminder that the benefits of entering the energy economy extend well beyond today. It supports energy dominance, energy sustainability and energy viability for generations to come. “We all have to be in this together,” Campos said. “This is our nation. This is for our children and their children and so forth.”

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