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April 05, 2021
Federal Government, Stakeholders Bring Transportation Equity into Focus
Source: Greenlining
Last week, the Biden Administration unveiled a sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure package. Heralded as a “once-in-a-generation investment” in the nation’s critical infrastructure, the plan includes a clear focus on addressing racial inequity and climate change. The Administration has proposed funding the investments through a partial rollback of the Trump Administration corporate tax breaks over the next 15 years. The plan outlines $174 billion in targeted investment in transportation electrification which would include  point-of-sale rebates for EV purchases, funding to state government and private companies to deploy charging stations, and grants to electrify 20 percent of all school buses among other proposals. A separate provision worth $20 billion would go directly to transportation projects in underserved communities. The transportation electrification provision is the second-largest single element in the proposal after a $213 billion investment in affordable housing. The package also includes $100 billion in proposed electrical grid and renewable energy investments.

The pandemic has helped highlight the urgency to invest in transportation electrification in underserved communities. Communities of color face worsening health outcomes driven by disproportionate exposure air pollution. New research from the Greenlining Institute in a report called “Clean Mobility Equity: A Playbook” distills the best practices in California and outlines a path forward to a more equitable transportation system. The playbook suggests 10 actions that California public officials can take to ensure climate and transportation programs to address inequities in the distribution of resources in the state. Among the report’s recommendations are to increase targeted support for jobs and training for underserved groups and transition away from programs focused on promoting single occupancy vehicle use. Transportation equity is also a key focus of President Biden’s infrastructure plan, which includes investment in workforce development and support for transit electrification.

In addition to these actions, the playbook urges the state to scale up existing programs including the Sustainable Equity Transportation Program (STEP). STEP is currently funded at $22 million and focuses on capacity building in disadvantaged communities. The program is supported by the broader California Climate Investments (CCI) program which is funded through the State’s Cap-and-Trade exchange. More than 55 percent of CCI investment has been dedicated to underserved communities.

Equitable transportation investment is not limited to California and the Greenlining playbook looks to influence federal and state action outside the Golden State. Transportation electrification initiatives in states including Colorado, New York, and New Jersey are responding to this need by prioritizing underserved communities in program rollout. In Colorado and New York, between 15 and 20 percent of the $810 million in approved utility investment across the two states since July 2020 has been committed to invest in EV charging infrastructure and subsidize the purchase price of  EVs operating in underserved communities. Both New York and New Jersey are integrating a focus on environmental justice across public agencies with the latter establishing the Office of Climate Action and the Green Economy in February 2021. In the announcement, Governor Phil Murphy dedicated more than half of the $100 million in new transportation electrification investment to projects enhancing environmental justice.

At the national level, President Biden’s infrastructure package faces a contested battle in the Senate. Republicans have called for smaller plans, although at least two prominent Republicans have expressed support for expanding federal tax credits for both EVs and EV charging. Adding 500,000 charging stations is among Biden’s more aggressive goals and would represent the first major federal foray in charging infrastructure expansion since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The EV Hub is expanding the way we track state and federal policy action and you can view enacted policies and bills under consideration through the Laws and Regulations Dashboard and State Legislation Dashboard.
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EV Hub News

Virginia Becomes 13th State to Join the ZEV Program

On March 18th, 2021, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 1965 into law. This makes Virginia the 13th state, and the only state in the Southeast region, to join the California-led ZEV program. The program, which requires manufacturers to make available for sale an increasing proportion of EVs across the state, has also been adopted by California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey New York, Rhode Island, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Both New Mexico and Minnesota are going through the regulatory process, which could result in them adopting the ZEV program as well. Read More Here

Six Utilities in Southeast and Midwest Partner for Electric Highway

On March 2, 2021, six of the country’s largest utilities agreed to partner to develop fast charging corridors throughout the Midwest and Southeast. The Electric Highway Coalition, made up of American Electric Power (AEP), Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, Entergy Corporation, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, plans to roll out DC fast charging across the region. This marks the first major multi-utility partnership in these regions, following similar initiatives in the Rocky Mountain region under REV West and along Pacific Coast interstates with the West Coast Clean Transit Corridor. Read More Here

GM to Sell Only EVs by 2035

On January 28th, 2021, General Motors (GM) announced plans to electrify their entire sales offerings by 2035. This follows announcements made in late 2020 that the company will increase their overall investment in EVs to a total of $27 million in support of at least 30 new EV models by 2025. GM is now leading the total investment commitment to EV manufacturing in the United States. The new announcement is part of a wider ambition for the company to reach carbon neutrality across all operations by 2040. GM is also the first of the “Detroit 3” automakers to make a commitment of this nature and follows European auto giants Volkswagen and Daimler who made similar commitments in 2020. Read More Here

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