The Indiana Department of Transportation received federal approval to deploy electric vehicle charging stations across the state two weeks ago, creating the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, according to a Herald-Times article.
INDOT has released maps of places where these charging stations will be located across the state. Since then, different organizations have expressed their concerns that communities made up of predominantly people of color are not included in this plan.
The NEVI program aims to deploy at least 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations in Indiana by 2030 and encourages wider adoption of electric vehicles. The first new charging stations are expected to be installed in 2024.
Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-City, said she helped amend House Bill 1221 which was passed on March 11, 2022, and outlines regulations for the use of electric vehicles. Pryor said that INDOT typically holds meetings to address the concerns of different Indiana communities, which included a meeting to receive community feedback on their plans to deploy EV charging stations.
“The three meetings that were held by INDOT had a maximum capacity of fifty people and two of those meetings were held in areas where there is not really any presence of minorities,” Pryor said. “They should have had several meetings in locations that could have held a significant number of people with a lot of outreaches to communities, asking people to come and give their input in locations which minorities felt safe and welcome to attend.”
The Indiana Alliance for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion of Electrical Vehicles released a six-point plan outlining the rules they believe INDOT should adhere to to ensure underrepresented voices are included in INDOT’s plans, including the EV movement.
James Mosley, the president of EnviroKinetics, a company specializing in environmental change, said the alliance’s purpose is to ensure that minority group opinions are involved in the creation of new infrastructure and programs throughout Indiana. He said INDOT made a mistake when trying to cater to minority communities by equating them all to low-income communities. Mosley said INDOT must be intentional in making sure all voices are heard, otherwise, they will be left out of the EV effort.
“We want all low-income people to be addressed as it is intended to do but we certainly want to make sure people of color are included as well,” Mosley said.
The White House describes Justice 40 as a federal initiative that declares that 40% of federal investments in a state should go to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Mosley said this initiative provides explicit guidelines for Indiana to follow to make sure they are targeting their funds to people of color.
“With all those programs that are coming down, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, the Inflation Reduction Act, the J40, they had a clear definition to address the racial wealth gap,” Mosley said.
INDOT Strategic Communications Director, Natalie Garrett, said the NEVI program is fairly new and still growing. She also said concerns from the community are being considered as NEVI continues to work on its plan.
“The agency will take advantage of ongoing opportunities to make adjustments to the plan as we move forward,” Garrett said. “INDOT will continue to listen to all voices as we continue through the implementation process.”