Legislation would ensure all communities have a chance to access health, cost benefits of zero-emission transportation
Washington (May 25, 2021) – The transportation sector continues to be the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and a significant source of toxic air pollution. Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) introduced the Community Vehicle Charging Act of 2021 to spark investment in zero-emission refueling infrastructure, such as electric vehicle charging stations, in environmental justice communities. The legislation would invest $375 million in a grant program at the Department of Transportation for community-scale programs to install electric vehicle infrastructure over the next five fiscal years. A transition to zero-emission vehicles is essential to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change, and widespread adoption of these vehicles is dependent on adequate and equitable access to alternative fuel sources. President Biden is a supporter of the electric vehicle economy, and the American Jobs Plan would invest $15 billion to create a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.
Many electric vehicles are already cheaper over the course of their lifetimes than their fossil fuel counterparts. These costs continue to fall, and it is projected that the rapid electrification of vehicles, along with a clean grid, would prevent 150,000 premature deaths from pollution and save consumers $2.7 trillion by 2050. Proactively planning for and building out infrastructure now in an equitable way will be essential to avoiding future electric vehicle deserts and ensuring that all communities have access to the health benefits and cost savings clean vehicles will provide.
“It has never been more important to accelerate the shift to clean vehicles, a transition that will not be possible unless it is accessible to all,” said Senator Markey. “Without targeted investment into zero-emission refueling infrastructure for environmental justice communities, air pollution will continue to increase for these areas already facing the worst impacts of our climate crisis. As we look to pass an historic infrastructure package in the coming months, it is critical that we center environmental justice and bold climate action at the heart of every dollar spent in order to meet our emission-reduction goals and ensure true justice for these historically overburdened communities. Every community should be able to plug in to the clean energy revolution.”
Across the country today, zip codes with higher median incomes often have higher per capita electric vehicle chargers. Without a targeted approach to investing in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure in environmental justice communities, and involving significant community input in planning processes, these inequities will continue.
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
The Community Vehicle Charging Act of 2021 would:
  • Establish a grant program at the Department of Transportation for community-scale programs to install electric vehicle infrastructure.
  • Provide resources and increased technical support for projects in environmental justice communities.
  • Require identification and data collection related to barriers that residents of environmental justice communities face to access electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Require community input and outreach in project design.
  • Promote educational activities surrounding zero-emission vehicles and alternative refueling infrastructure.
This legislation has been endorsed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
“Year after year, pollution from cars, trucks, and buses disproportionately impacts communities of color and low income communities,” said Shruti Vaidyanathan, transportation program director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). “This bill will improve access to electric vehicle charging in those critical communities and ensure that the benefits of vehicle electrification are available to all. We need to enable a rapid transition to electric vehicles, and Senator Markey’s bill would help ensure it is equitable.”