Building Electric Vehicle Infrastructure for All

Advocates warn that an inequitable distribution of EV charging facilities could lead to ‘charging deserts’ that will prevent widespread adoption of EVs in low-income communities.

1 minute read

September 27, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), among other federal programs, creates incentives that encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and supports the development of a nationwide EV charging network. However, some advocates worry that the infrastructure and incentives won’t reach the poorest communities—the people most impacted by the effects of pollution from fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

A piece by Brett Marsh in Grist highlights the uneven distribution of charging infrastructure, which is often difficult to find in low-income areas, comparing the problem to so-called ‘food deserts.’ “If there are neighborhoods that are already food deserts, why expect them to have a charging station or three?” 

According to Marsh, “Charging stations are more likely to be found in dense clusters in wealthier and generally whiter urban areas. Drive, or walk, through a low-income community of color or a rural area, and you would be hard-pressed to find a charging station.” Presently, incentive programs for buying electric vehicles benefit wealthier households most.

Activists note that the inequitable rollout of EV infrastructure reflects historical patterns. “Activists and community members in neighborhoods of color have reflected on the missed opportunities of previous massive national infrastructure projects,” such as the interstate highway system. Advocates for low-income communities hope that they won’t once again be left behind.

Thursday, September 22, 2022 in Grist

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