People of color are as interested in buying electric cars as white consumers – the biggest obstacle is access to charging

More EV charging hookups in public locations like garages and parking lots would prompt more drivers of color to buy EVs. Extreme Media via Getty Images

by Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, The New School

A nationally representative survey of 8,027 Americans shows that across all racial demographics, overall interest in purchasing electric vehicles is high. Among those surveyed, 33% of white respondents, 38% of Black respondents, 43% of Latinos and 52% of Asian Americans say they would “definitely” or “seriously consider” purchasing or leasing an EV as their next vehicle.

The survey was conducted by Consumer Reports, with input from the nonprofit advocacy groups GreenLatinos, the Union of Concerned Scientists and EVNoire and administered between Jan. 27 and Feb. 18, 2022, by NORC at the University of Chicago, an objective, nonpartisan research organization.

Electric vehicles are critical for reducing transportation emissions, but communities of color currently adopt this key technology at lower rates than white drivers. This survey, for which I was an adviser, helps to shed light on some of the reasons for this disparity.

Cleaner air for all

Air pollution in the U.S. disproportionately affects communities of color. To take just one statistic, Latino children are about three times more likely than non-Hispanic white children to live in a county where air pollution levels exceed federal air quality standards.

Transportation is a major source of harmful air pollutants, particularly nitrogen oxides. These compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and smog, which can cause or worsen many types of respiratory diseases.

Motor vehicles also emit soot and toxic compounds. Because of these pollutants, people who live near roadways are at elevated risk of ailments including heart disease, impaired lung development in children, preterm and low-birthweight infants, childhood leukemia and premature death.

Transportation is also the largest source of global warming emissions in the United States. Light-duty passenger cars and trucks contribute 58% of transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Weather-related events such as heat waves, air pollution and flooding can be exacerbated by climate change and disproportionately harm U.S. communities of color.

Climate change is taking a disproportionate toll on low-income and minority communities across the U.S.

Where can we plug in?

Ours was the first consumer-oriented survey to analyze barriers to EV adoption along racial demographic lines. The goal is to help policymakers and advocates better understand why Black and Latino consumers are buying fewer EVs than white consumers and what concerns explain this gap.

We found that charging EVs at home – the most affordable way to charge EVs today – is not an equally viable option for all communities, particularly those with higher proportions of renters or multifamily dwellings. People who own their homes can much more easily have EV charging equipment installed on the premises and use it to charge their cars safely and conveniently overnight.

In our survey, nearly 75% of white respondents owned their homes, compared with fewer than 50% of Black respondents and slightly over 50% of Latino respondents. Multi-unit dwellings, such as apartment buildings, often do not offer EV charging for residents. We found that increasing affordable, accessible and reliable public EV charging infrastructure in safe locations would address all of these groups’ biggest concerns about EV charging.

The survey findings also suggest that improving access to financing and incentives for both new and used EVs would help to accelerate EV adoption.

Getting the message out

Our results show that increasing access to EVs is a key way to educate communities about the benefits of driving them. But it’s not clear yet how to create education and engagement initiatives that focus on Black and Latino consumers and target their specific needs and concerns.

Finding better ways to include Black and Latino communities in the EV transition is important because it can help to address gaps and mitigate systemic barriers to adoption and achieve environmental justice.

Providing help and incentives for apartments and condominiums to install EV chargers will help reduce barriers to widespread EV adoption. Our survey showed that Black and Latino drivers are more likely to use public or on-street parking, so incentives to support the build-out of publicly accessible charging infrastructure are also critical.

Purchase incentives that are more accessible and target buyers at more income levels will bring EVs within reach for more people. For example, tax credits could be made refundable, allowing people without sufficient tax liability to still take advantage of the credit, or incentives could be made available at the point of sale.

We plan further research that can identify ways to overcome the barriers spotlighted in this survey and help create a just and clean transportation future for all.

Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Adjunct Lecturer in Urban Studies, The New School

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

At 75, the father of environmental justice meets the moment

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The White House has pledged $60 billion to a cause Robert Bullard has championed since the late seventies. He wants guarantees that the money will end up in the right hands.

At Brownfields conference, Worker Training grantees discuss Justice40

Read the full story at Environmental Factor.

The National Brownfields Training Conference in Oklahoma City provided an opportunity for the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program (ECWTP) to showcase its grantees, review progress, and discuss next steps of the White House’s Justice40 initiative, Aug. 17. (See first sidebar for more on brownfields.)

Justice40 guides federal agencies to deliver 40% of the overall benefits of investments in climate change, clean energy, affordable housing, clean water, workforce development, and pollution remediation to disadvantaged communities.

ECWTP is a unique training program within the NIEHS Worker Training Program. The Brownfields 2022 meeting came two months after ECWTP was selected to participate in Justice40. Funding for ECWTP came with $4.25 million in support, with a focus on key Justice40 training goals.

Biden promised billions for environmental justice. Will it get into the right hands?

Read the full story at WWNO.

On a warm August day in rural Louisiana, local residents, environmental advocates and utility representatives packed into a courthouse for a controversial summit.

St. James Parish officials were weighing a temporary ban on solar.

The parish, west of New Orleans, is part of what’s known as “Cancer Alley”: the biggest cluster of petrochemical facilities in the state with some of the highest cancer risk in the country.

It’s been deemed a “sacrifice zone” by ProPublica. Across the country, Black, brown, Indigenous and low-income people are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards, like the plants in Cancer Alley.

Sharon Lavigne, a Black, retired teacher and longtime activist, has been asking for a moratorium on petrochemical plants for years. She founded Rise St. James, a faith-based grassroots community group fighting for environmental justice in the area.

How prepared are US cities to implement the Justice40 Initiative?

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

After surveying city leaders pursuing new federal environmental justice funding, here are their challenges — and ways to overcome them.

The blueprint we already have for building a resilient, green economy

Read the full story at Governing.

The biggest federal climate, clean energy and environmental justice commitment in history is an unprecedented opportunity. The ideas contained in cities’ and companies’ environmental disclosures are a treasure trove to guide policymakers.

In ‘Cancer Alley,’ judge blocks huge petrochemical plant

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Louisiana activists battling to block an enormous plastics plant in a corridor so dense with industrial refineries it is known as Cancer Alley won a legal victory this week when a judge canceled the company’s air permits. In a sharply worded opinion released Wednesday, Judge Trudy White of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge noted that the residents in the tiny town of Welcome, where the $9.4 billion petrochemical plant would have been built, are descendants of enslaved Africans.

Why doesn’t America build things?

Read the full story at Vice.

Environmental review laws have become a favorite scapegoat among those who lament our inability to build ambitious infrastructure, but the problem runs much deeper.

How Jackson, Mississippi’s water crisis is a sign of larger racial inequities

Read the full story from PBS Newshour.

Residents in Jackson, Mississippi have gone without safe drinking water for weeks after flooding and a failure at the city’s largest water treatment plant. While water pressure has been restored, videos show dirty water is still coming through faucets. Amna Nawaz spoke with Dr. Robert Bullard of Texas Southern University about other majority Black and brown cities that face similar ongoing issues.

Ya Fav Trashman fights illegal dumping with cleanups and social media

Read the full story at Waste Dive.

Terrill Haigler, a former Philadelphia sanitation worker, has become a rising star in the waste world. He discusses a new children’s book, “I’m Cool Too,” and how street cleanliness is an EJ issue.