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Biden’s ‘Hydrogen Hub’ Plan Set to Generate Thousands of Clean Energy Jobs in California

Last week, clean energy advocates and industry experts praised a new federal government program that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to California. As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics — the President’s economic plan — the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the $7 billion Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) program across the nation on Oct. 13.

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Low-cost, clean hydrogen is a valuable energy product that can be produced with zero or near-zero carbon emissions. Image courtesy California Black Media.
Low-cost, clean hydrogen is a valuable energy product that can be produced with zero or near-zero carbon emissions. Image courtesy California Black Media.

By California Black Media

Last week, clean energy advocates and industry experts praised a new federal government program that is expected to bring thousands of jobs to California.

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics — the President’s economic plan — the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the $7 billion Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) program across the nation on Oct. 13.

The program, which creates seven regional hubs in seven states, including California, is expected to be a boon for Black and other minority communities.

It is part of the federal government’s Justice40 initiative, which requires that 40% of the “overall benefits” of the program will be used to invest in marginalized communities and places that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution.

“The seven selected regional clean hydrogen hubs will catalyze more than $40 billion in private investment and create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs — bringing the total public and private investment in hydrogen hubs to nearly $50 billion,” the Biden-Harris administration said in a statement.

The program is designed to accelerate the commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen — a valuable energy product that can be produced with zero or near-zero carbon emissions and is crucial to meeting Biden’s climate and energy security goals, according to the White House.

“Unlocking the full potential of hydrogen — a versatile fuel that can be made from almost any energy resource in virtually every part of the country — is crucial to achieving Biden’s goal of American industry powered by American clean energy, ensuring less volatility and more affordable energy options for American families and businesses,” stated U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“This federal investment is significant because it complements and it unlocks so much private investment and investment from the states,” said Chris Hannan, president of ARCHES partner State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, in a statement.

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California Black Media

Expect to See a New Flat Rate Fee of $24 on Your Electricity Bill

Last week, members of the California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve adding a $24.15 flat fee to monthly utility bills starting next year. On May 9, the California regulators took the unanimous vote in favor of the proposal which also reduced the cost of utilities per kilowatt hour but added the fixed charge to mitigate the loss. The new charge will be based on income with lower-income households paying between $6 to $12. Middle-class to high-income households will be expected to pay the full amount.

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By California Black Media

Last week, members of the California Public Utilities Commission voted to approve adding a $24.15 flat fee to monthly utility bills starting next year.

On May 9, the California regulators took the unanimous vote in favor of the proposal which also reduced the cost of utilities per kilowatt hour but added the fixed charge to mitigate the loss. The new charge will be based on income with lower-income households paying between $6 to $12. Middle-class to high-income households will be expected to pay the full amount.

CPUC President Alice Reynolds and environmental groups argue that the new rate encourages people to use more clean energy and assist in modernizing the grid.

“We’re marching towards the future we want to see; we want this load growth,” Reynolds said.

“One where we can replace gas-guzzling cars on our roads with EVs that run on clean electricity and emit less pollutants,” she added.

Although the fixed charge is supposed to lower the utility bill for residents, opponents of the charge argue that a flat rate increases the monthly bill for middle and high-income households.

California currently operates under a prepaid model and maintenance of the power grid is included in the overall usage rate. But with this new proposal, residents will pay more than double the national average of $11 for electricity.

Cynthia Martinez, a spokesperson for the Predictable Power Coalition, an advocacy group, argued that a flat rate is more equitable and will reduce the cost of utilities for struggling families.

“For people who live in hotter climates, who really have no choice but to run their air conditioning more often, they’re paying higher costs that go toward grid upkeep,” Martinez said.

In the past, Democrats stalled plans at the state Capitol to approve the flat fee. All 14 Democrats in the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee abstained from voting during a hearing on the proposal to roll back the flat rate.

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California Black Media

Commentary: Support Early Detection Technology to Save the Lives of Black Cancer Patients

In 2008, I received news no one ever wants to hear. I was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer, with an ER/PR positive tumor type. The road to recovery was tough, taking more than a physical toll on my body. I grappled with the emotional and mental strain of navigating a health care system that too often fails to address the unique needs of Black women. There was no manual to guide me through this journey, no prescription to ease the burden, and no roadmap to help me navigate the challenges ahead.

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Rhonda Smith, Executive Director, California Black Health Network
Rhonda Smith, Executive Director, California Black Health Network

By Rhonda Smith, Special to California Black Media Partners  

In 2008, I received news no one ever wants to hear. I was diagnosed with Stage I breast cancer, with an ER/PR positive tumor type.

The road to recovery was tough, taking more than a physical toll on my body. I grappled with the emotional and mental strain of navigating a health care system that too often fails to address the unique needs of Black women. There was no manual to guide me through this journey, no prescription to ease the burden, and no roadmap to help me navigate the challenges ahead.

The stark reality that Black women are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women is a grim reminder of the systemic inequities that pervade our health care system. According to the American Cancer Society, Black Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group in the country. This disparity extends beyond breast cancer, impacting colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers, among others.

To help overcome these inequities, we need to attack cancer at its roots; we must catch it early, and we must ensure the means to catch cancer early are accessible to the communities most at risk. I consider myself fortunate to have received a Stage 1 diagnosis. Yet, it pains me to know that for many others, their breast cancer is often detected in later, more advanced stages.

Fortunately, there is hope on the horizon. Some California congressmembers — particularly U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA-25) — are taking decisive action. Ruiz is a lead sponsor of a bill to dramatically expand access to cutting-edge early detection tools for Medicare beneficiaries, including millions of Black Americans in underserved communities. With bipartisan support, this bill is closer than ever to passage.

Named in honor of Nancy Gardner Sewell, a civil rights leader and passionate advocate for health justice, the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act would ensure Medicare has the latitude it needs to cover an exciting new class of cancer detection tests as soon as they’re cleared by the FDA.

These tests utilize the latest scientific achievements to identify cancer signals in a patient’s blood stream. They can pinpoint many different types of cancer from a single blood draw, dramatically improving doctors’ ability to detect cancers early and at stages where they are most treatable.

The next phase of our fight against cancer – and the disproportionate toll it takes on Black Americans – starts by urging Congress to pass the Nancy Gardner Sewell Medicare Multi-Cancer Early Detection Screening Coverage Act and ensuring the benefits of this legislation reach all corners of our communities.

I don’t advocate for change for myself, but for every Black woman who has faced, or will face, a similar battle.

Together, we can rewrite the narrative of health care, catch and treat cancer early, and ensure that every woman has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of her race or background.

About the Author 

Rhonda Smith, Executive Director of the California Black Health Network, leads initiatives to advance health equity for Black Californians, leveraging her expertise from roles including consulting and spearheading health disparities initiatives for BIPOC communities. With an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech, Rhonda has led transformative projects like the LiveHealthy OC Initiative and the Susan G. Komen® Circle of Promise California Initiative to address health disparities and promote whole person care approaches.

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Bay Area

California Makes Strides in Fight Against Fentanyl

California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force has seized over 7,000 pounds of fentanyl including 3.4 million pills since the state launched a multi-agency operation in January 2024. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s progress on May 7, National Fentanyl Awareness Day. The Governor said he deployed the state’s highway patrol and National Guard personnel last year as part of a public safety operation in partnership with local government officials and law enforcement.

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In the past five years, California has invested $1.1 billion in operations and initiatives to fight crime, support local law enforcement, and improve public safety. The Newsom administration has implemented a comprehensive approach as part of the governor’s Master Plan to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis.

By California Black Media

California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force has seized over 7,000 pounds of fentanyl including 3.4 million pills since the state launched a multi-agency operation in January 2024.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s progress on May 7, National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

The Governor said he deployed the state’s highway patrol and National Guard personnel last year as part of a public safety operation in partnership with local government officials and law enforcement.

“As we recognize the serious dangers of illegal fentanyl, California is continuing to tackle this issue head-on. Our efforts are getting this poison off our streets and out of our communities as we continue to support people struggling with substance use.” Newsom said.

CalGuard Major General Matthew Beevers said that the state’s unprecedented investment in the Counterdrug Task Force has immobilized operations and revenue channels of transnational criminal organizations.

“The CalGuard is committed to supporting our state, federal, local and tribal law enforcement partners to eliminate the scourge of fentanyl,” Beevers said.

In the past five years, California has invested $1.1 billion in operations and initiatives to fight crime, support local law enforcement, and improve public safety. The Newsom administration has implemented a comprehensive approach as part of the governor’s Master Plan to tackle the fentanyl and opioid crisis.

The Newsom administration has expanded efforts to improve public safety across the state where operations occurred in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Bakersfield.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed acknowledged that joint operation was a step in the right direction toward curbing illegal activity and improving public safety.

“Our coordinated work to shut down drug markets in San Francisco is making a difference, but we have more work to do,” Breed said.

“Together we are sending a message at all levels of government that anyone selling fentanyl in this city will be arrested and prosecuted,” she said.

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