Webinar: Building Justice40 and Equity Considerations into State Plans (Text Version)
This is a text version of the webinar Building Justice40 and Equity Considerations into State Plans presented on June 24, 2022.
Steve: So there is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the Federal Highway Administration's National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program that is posted on the Federal Register and currently open for public comment. Any issues discussed today related to the rulemaking are subject to DOT's ex parte guidelines and under those guidelines DOT is the receiver of information; DOT personnel can listen, they can ask clarifying questions, and answer factual questions about public documents; but cannot negotiate or provide any substantive and non-public information. And then DOT will docket information or memoranda memorializing communications as soon as possible. DOT's intent is to ensure notice of any ex parte meetings and the opportunity to comment on any information submitted during an ex parte meeting.
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All right, now that we have that out of the way I'd like to kick things off with today's webinar hosted by the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation about "Building Equity and Justice40 into State NEVI Plans." As a reminder, you can find us online at www.DriveElectric.gov, the online home of the Joint Office.
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So for some brief background, the Joint Office was established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to address areas of mutual interest between the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Transportation. Our mission is to accelerate an electrified transportation system that is affordable, convenient, equitable, reliable, and safe. And this is to create a future where everyone can ride and drive electric.
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Our main focus over the last several months has been working to provide state DOTs and other stakeholders with technical assistance related to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program – we call it NEVI for short. If you're one of our stakeholders thank you for joining us today; we know you're well on your way to developing great plans that will result in a convenient, affordable, reliable, equitable, and safe charging network.
Ninety-day guidance for the NEVI Formula Program was issued back in February. We also issued an Alternative Fuel Corridor Round Six requests for nominations. The Round Six nominations were due in May. And then just a couple weeks ago the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the minimum standards and frequently asked questions came out.
So state plans are due August 1st and then those will be reviewed and certified by September 30th. And then later this year we'll have $2.5 billion in corridor and community grants. Investment is part of the community discretionary grant program, and then you'll learn more about gap-filling grants and EV freight corridor designations.
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So a key element of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program is to inspire confidence of EV drivers in a national charging network that will allow anyone to ride or drive electric. So to that end the NEVI Formula Program seeks to build out charging infrastructure along designated electric vehicle charging corridors. And the goal is to have those chargers every 50 miles and not more than one mile from the highway corridor.
These are also higher-power charging stations, so there will be at least 450 kW DC fast chargers with the combined charging system ports, capable of simultaneously four EVs. And that will result in stations that have a minimum station power capability at or above 600 kW, to support at least 150 kW per port simultaneously across those four ports of charging.
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Now I'm going to turn it over to Monisha Shah. Monisha is the Equity Lead for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation and she's going to walk us through what to expect on today's webinar and make introductions to two of our important guests. Monisha.
Monisha: Thank you, Steve. It's really great to be here today. So today we have an action-packed webinar planned for you here. We'll first be joined by two very important leaders at our two agencies that we're working with: Department of Transportation and Department of Energy, to set the stage on why equity is important and Justice40 to be included in the NEVI state programs. Then we'll talk about important elements to include on equity and Justice40 in state NEVI Plans; examples of community engagement approaches that could be used by states; considerations on workforce development, civil rights, and the American's with Disabilities Act. Lastly we'll talk about tools and resources that are also available from the Joint Office to help states with their planning efforts. And then we'll take questions and answers – we'll answer questions that you're posing to us.
There is a Q&A bank, so feel free to put your questions in as we're going along through the webinar. And with that I'll go to the next slide.
So I'm really excited and honored to have two very important speakers with us today. Christopher Coes, who is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Transportation and Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation; and Shalanda Baker, the Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the U.S. Department of Energy, who is also a secretarial advisor on equity. They're both visionary leaders helping us to incorporate equity and Justice40 into every aspect of our two agencies.
We'll go to the next slide and see a video from Christopher Coes first.
Christopher: Good afternoon. I am Christopher Coes, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy here at the Department of Transportation, and I am so glad for the opportunity to speak with you today. As the Department of Transportation dives in on building a more safer, a more equitable, more modern, and climate-friendly transportation system, I couldn't be more thrilled to be with this group, knowing that all of you with us this afternoon will be critical to ensuring our collective success.
The Department of Transportation's climate and equity work stretches across all modes of transportation. Right now we are jumpstarting more bike and pedestrian projects. We are ensuring that communities have more access to reliable public transit, and we are even challenging the aviation industry to drive down their emissions and so much more.
Today we'll be focusing on accelerating America's transition to electric vehicles, as this has been quite an exciting month for the Department of Transportation. We know that EVs and others sustainable modes of transportation and mobility are key to our economic and climate future. The auto industry, with strong support from the American public, have already made huge strides in moving in this direction. But we need to ensure that this shift happens quickly and equitably to make a meaningful difference in the fight against the climate crisis and in each of the American lives. We need to ensure that EVs and EV chargers are made here in America by American workers, and that they'll be affordable and accessible enough for every American, every business, and American community can reap the benefits.
We know that EVs they are cheaper to both fuel and maintain. They don't produce the harmful air emissions like internal combustion engines do. We know that those pollutants disproportionately impact disadvantaged communities. We are committed to make deployment of EV charging network equitable, ensuring that the benefits are accruing to all Americans, particularly those that are underrepresented and disadvantaged.
It is important to recognize that past transportation investments may not have often addressed the inequities or sometimes have made them worse. And because a piece of physical infrastructure can endure for decades, families and communities today must contend with past, oftentimes discriminatory choices that may date back generations.
This Department, this Biden-Harris Administration, are committed to ensuring and doing the right thing for our shared future and addressing those past inequities by building a better and more equitable transportation system. At the Department of Transportation we are really trying to implement these policies that drive really and better outcomes. While the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law certainly provides the needed increase and much-needed funding so we can address the backlog for our roads, our bridges, our buses, airports, that are all falling into disrepair. We know that more funding doesn't guarantee more equitable outcomes or economic benefits for all American communities.
Recently we issued guidance which includes information on how to address the administration's equity priorities, such as our Justice40 initiative, and workforce development as part of our EV program. This webinar will go into so much more detail. From a high level, DOT, working in partnership with our allies, wants to ensure that the EV network will be fully accessible to all EV users, regardless of whether they live in urban, or rural, or suburban communities. At least 40% of the benefits of the EV program investment should and will flow into disadvantaged communities. And that public participation will be key in advancing equity.
The recent NEVI guidance makes clear that states should coordinate with their local leaders, business community, as well as local community groups on developing their state plans. We know that this level of collaboration will be key to getting it right. To implement our EV charging program we're collaborating with all of our colleagues, particularly those at the Department of Energy, on this new, exciting Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, which will coordinate our efforts on EV charging and provide information and resources on EV charging to stakeholders and to the general public. We encourage you to take a look at the office's new website, www.DriveElectric.gov, to sign up for e-mail updates, check out new technical assistance offerings, and check out some new upcoming webinars.
There's so much more work that needs to be done to fully achieve a more safer, more equitable, more modern, and climate-friendly transportation system. On behalf of the Department of Transportation, Secretary Buttigieg, I look forward to joining you on this endeavor together.
Now I would like to turn it over to my great colleague and friend, Shalanda Baker, recently confirmed Director of the Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.
Shalanda: I'm so grateful for that hand-off, and I just want to thank the Department of Transportation. It has been really wonderful to work with the entire team over the past year. As Assistant Secretary Coes mentioned, I'm Shalanda Baker and I'm the Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity at the Department of Energy. Before I get started today I want to say that we're changing the world and we are so thrilled to have you as partners in this work.
So my charge from the president of the United States and the secretary of energy is to lead and steward an equitable transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. The deployment of NEVI funds represents a chance to do things differently, to ensure that overburdened and underserved communities are centered as we begin the monumental shift away from fossil fuels as the primary source of energy for this country. And we are so excited to work with you all in achieving this national goal.
So as DOE strives to help reinforce and revitalize our energy infrastructure in collaboration with other federal departments it's incumbent on all of us to ensure that our future transportation and energy systems are not merely functional, but just. In other words, we must seek to remediate the historic harms visited on frontline communities. And when I say frontline communities, I mean communities on the front lines of environmental hazards and harms and communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, and ensure that the future energy and transportation systems are more equitable, accessible, affordable, clean, and consider the input and voices of the frontline communities that we hope to serve through the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
So to that end it is important to remember that NEVI is a Justice40 covered program under Executive Order 14008. And so under this historic executive order, the order tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, every single federal agency engaged in climate and clean energy spending must endeavor to maximize the benefits of every single dollar spent to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of those investments flow to frontline underserved and overburdened communities.
So, folks, this is absolutely transformative. And accordingly, the Joint Office has undertaken the following to ensure that we're making Justice40 central to our national transportation electrification efforts. So first we're developing a joint mapping tool which combines DOE and DOT definitions to identify disadvantaged communities for outreach, project development, and grant applications. We identified disadvantaged communities based on 22 indicators in categories of transportation access, health, environmental, economic burdens, and resilience and social disadvantage. Second, we are organizing a plan to offer robust technical assistance to help states identify measurable benefits to communities of concern, and how those benefits can be tracked and traced. And third, we are asking states – all of you – to describe how they will create meaningful community engagement to inform the NEVI program design in your states, which can lead to real benefits for disadvantaged communities.
So all of you listening today and participating in this session represent the innovation and ingenuity we need to make all of this possible. So I want to impress upon you that your work must be inclusive and with a laser-focus on equity and the communities that for far too long have been left behind in federal and state decision making. So we encourage you to pull at every single lever at your disposal to conduct this work in a manner that is respectful of our environment, its resources, and its people.
So that's our collective work. That is our work, to heal our nation through this transformative commitment to climate, environmental, and energy justice. And just to reiterate, we, all of us have the responsibility to ensure that the communities on the front lines of this climate crisis receive the benefits of the clean energy and transportation transition. And that's the promise of the Biden-Harris Administration.
So I'm so honored to work with committed and incredibly smart colleagues across this interagency program and I am so honored to help lead this equitable transition away from fossil fuels to clean energy. So this, this is our moment, and we look forward to working with you every step of the way. Thank you so much.
Monisha: Thank you so much, Shalanda, and also Christopher, for setting the stage on such a historic opportunity that we each can collectively contribute to. Now we will discuss considerations on how to address equity in Justice40 and state NEVI plans.
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There are several different elements to consider on equity in Justice40 and when developing state NEVI plans that we will cover with you today. First we'd like to talk about how states can identify, prioritize, and measure benefits for disadvantaged communities from electric vehicle infrastructure charging infrastructure investments. We'll also talk about how states can use the electric vehicle charging Justice40 map to help identify local disadvantaged communities. We'll also talk about how states can create and implement a meaningful community engagement process, which includes who they might engage with and potential methods for how they can engage with a diverse set of stakeholders.
A very important aspect of creating equitable state NEVI plans is to consider developing a diverse electric vehicle charging infrastructure workforce and options for contracting with small and disadvantaged businesses. Lastly, we will also talk about how state NEVI plans can address Title 6, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 considerations.
As Christopher and Shalanda mentioned, the Biden Administration established the Justice40 initiative last January, which asked that 40% of overall benefits of federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities, so that we ensure that communities are not left behind as we transition to a new energy and transportation system. The NEVI program is a covered program under the Justice40 initiative.
As we think about how to implement Justice40 there are three primary questions that can be answered. Starting on the right, how do we define disadvantaged communities? In the middle, how do we define Justice40-relevant investments? And on the left, how do we measure and track the investments of Justice40 investments?
To help answer the first question the Department of Energy and the Department of Transportation came together to collaborate on a joint definition of disadvantaged communities, which combines the interim definitions that each agency has created. The joint interim definition uses publicly available data sets that describe vulnerable populations, health access, transportation access and burden, energy burden, fossil fuel-dependent communities, resilience, and environmental and climate hazards. This map can be found on the link that's posted here and is also listed in the chat, as well as downloadable files for those interested in examining the data more closely.
One thing to note is the definition was recently updated in May. The website also features a newly released report called "Using Mapping Tools to Prioritize Electrical Vehicle Charger Benefits to Underserved Communities," which provides examples for how to apply mapping tools to incorporate equity in EV charger planning efforts. There's also a Clean Cities training webinar on how to use Energy Zones Mapping Tool to equitably plan for electric vehicle charging. Lastly I'll also mention that on www.DriveElectric.gov you can access Department of Transportation's rural EV toolkit.
Another key aspect of Justice40 is to identify which benefits are of highest priority to disadvantaged communities and design program implementation accordingly. The NEVI Formula Program 90-day guidance and the frequently asked questions document, which was recently released, both provide examples of potential benefits of NEVI deployment such as those that are listed here: improving clean transportation access to the location of chargers; creating opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses such as women-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned businesses in disadvantaged communities; decreasing the transportation energy cost burden by enabling reliable access to affordable charging, reducing environmental exposures from transportation emissions, and creating workforce development opportunities such as apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and jobs across the full supply chain. Also there are opportunities to partner with local minority-serving institutions as well. Lastly, another potential benefit is to increase energy resilience and the ability for communities to participate fully in program design and implementation.
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In order to help realize those benefits for disadvantaged communities it can be helpful to develop a Justice40 benefits framework or an accountability framework for tracking progress. Some steps the state could take are determine which benefits are of highest priority to communities through community engagement, establishing baselines on where we are at in delivering those benefits currently, then designing NEVI programs to help maximize the delivery of those benefits. As programs are being implemented, measuring the benefits of the program results and validating those results with information from communities and then adjusting program design to further maximize benefits. We recognize that the NEVI program is a five-year program and that a Justice40 approach and how it is incorporated into NEVI program design and delivery will evolve over time.
So now we want to hear from all of you. We are using PollEv; Ev stands not for electric vehicles here, but Poll Everywhere. It's a software that you can use to participate in this poll. You can either use your cell phone and text NRELWEBINARS303 to the number 22333 or use the link in the chat to access the poll on the web. We're interested in hearing from you on which benefits of building EV and EV charging infrastructure do you think might be high priorities to disadvantaged communities in your state. This is obviously not a comprehensive list or an exhaustive list, but a list to start getting a sense for what you think some of those priorities might be.
As you can see, there's a number of priorities that are popping up as of high interest. Decreasing transportation cost burden is showing up as a pretty important one, as well as reducing emissions. Job training and access to clean transportation are also pretty big frontrunners.
Thank you for participating in a poll, and as we post the recording of this webinar you'll be able to see the full poll results. At this point I'd like to turn it over to my colleague, Torrey Lyons, who is with the Joint Office on Energy and Transportation. Torrey.
Torrey: Thank you so much, Monisha. Yes, again, my name is Torrey Lyons. I am working on equity with the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, and I will be speaking about examples of community engagement approaches and best practices as it relates to the NEVI program.
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Hearing from stakeholders helps to tailor a program that meets their specific needs and improves outcomes of the program. The process displayed in this slide outlines the major steps of meaningful community engagement, although context-specific considerations and steps should be evaluated. A critical outcome of this process is hearing from disadvantaged communities and incorporating their feedback into the design and future performance measurement of the program. The steps required for facilitating meaningful community engagement include using the EV charging Justice40 map and local knowledge to identify and focus on disadvantaged communities, providing education and information on electric vehicles and electric vehicle infrastructure, receiving input on disadvantaged community priorities and concerns, publicly summarizing input received from disadvantaged communities, communicating program design and evaluation decisions, communicating and validating benefits received, and finally, updating the program design to incorporate lessons learned.
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Meaningful community engagement process can inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of NEVI programs intended to provide benefits to disadvantaged communities. Information on how programs are designed and implemented can also be provided back to communities throughout the implementation process.
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The first step of the community engagement process that I just mentioned includes referring to the electric vehicle charging Justice40 map. The national map is helpful for the government to be able to ensure that as we build out a national charging network we can compare benefits to disadvantaged communities in an effective manner. However, we recognize that this tool can provide a somewhat incomplete picture of what's happening on the ground, and states can supplement the map with additional tools and local knowledge about the needs and location of environmental justice communities of concern.
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Some examples of community-oriented stakeholders can be found in the recently released frequently asked questions document. And this outlines many different organizations that are examples of stakeholders and sovereign entities that could be engaged in the NEVI planning and implementation process. The latter half of the list provided in the document includes examples of organizations that might be more community-oriented and have the potential to consider a broader set of community-oriented stakeholders in the NEVI engagement process. Some entities to consider for community engagement include tribal governments, state economic development agencies, mayors and local elected officials, organizations for persons with disabilities, local housing organizations, local social service providers, utility consumer advocates, workforce training organizations, community-based organizations, environmental justice and environmental protection organizations, and many others that can be found in the document mentioned.
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In addition to a varied group of stakeholders and entities, a diverse set of engagement activities offers the best chance of facilitating a process that will be accessible to disadvantaged communities. A number of different options for engaging communities and organizations might be needed to meet people where they are. This list that I'll discuss here is, again, not comprehensive or exhaustive, but it provides a number of effective examples of community engagement activities to allow for greater and more diverse community input. States may consider how to address barriers by providing necessary services to increase accessibility and planned activities. This can be things like providing childcare, conducting events during non-working hours, and avoiding an over-reliance on electronic communication.
Some community engagement activities to include in your efforts are briefings, canvassing, outreach to existing community groups, meetings in comfortable non-traditional spaces, transportation fairs, interactive displays and kiosks, public workshops, and many others that, again, can be found in the frequently asked questions document.
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Beyond the frequently asked questions document and the national map that we've shared with you today, there are many additional helpful resources for providing community engagement. The Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have developed a number of in-depth resources on how to create a meaningful community engagement process to inform transportation decision making. The links for these resources are available in the chat as well as in the frequently asked questions document that we keep referring to. And some of the important resources include "Public Involvement Techniques for Transportation Decision Making," "Virtual Public Involvement," "How to Engage Low-Literacy and Limited-English-Proficiency Populations in Transportation Decision Making," "Every Place Counts: Leadership Academy Transportation Toolkit," and then finally additional resources can be found on the Joint Office's website at www.DriveElectric.gov.
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All right, so now we find ourselves at another poll question. Again, you can respond via the website listed on the slide or by texting NRELWEBINARS303 to 22333. And we're asking who are you engaging – this includes now or in the future – to meaningfully address equity in your state NEVI plans? Clean Cities coalitions is one option, community-based or environmental justice organizations, housing or social service organizations, minority- and women-owned businesses, tribal governments, workforce training organizations, or other.
So it looks like community-based or environmental justice organizations are the most prominent so far. Clean Cities coalitions are also a common answer. We see tribal governments there as well. And as my colleague Monisha said as this poll continues to populate the final results will be posted in the webinar when we post it on our www.DriveElectric.gov website. And I'll give just a few more seconds for folks to respond to this. And again, it looks like community-based or environmental justice organizations are the stakeholders that you're engaging with at the moment, and that's great to see.
And I will now pass this – my spotlight to my colleague, Kristin Wood at the Department of Transportation. And thank you all so much.
Kristin: Great. Thanks, Torrey.
So next slide, please. Thank you.
So to promote economic development and economic justice we also encourage state DOTs to consider including small and disadvantaged businesses in project delivery. Wealth creation for small disadvantaged businesses is a pillar of DOT's equity action plan. Through DOT's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization the department is providing robust technical assistance to small and disadvantaged businesses, including minority-owned businesses, that will help them compete for opportunities related to EV charging infrastructure. Many of those opportunities will come from your EV charging network buildout. And again, we encourage state DOTs to consider how you can include these small and disadvantaged businesses in your plans.
Creating employment opportunities for people underrepresented in infrastructure jobs is a critical way to advanced equity through the NEVI program. One workforce strategy that will be important is the expansion of registered apprenticeship, and states should take steps to diversify registered apprenticeship as it is being expanded. This means creating more pre-apprenticeships programs that focus on women, people of color, people with legal system involvement, and others who face barriers to employment. Funding of these programs is eligible under NEVI programs and other DOT funds. State DOTs can also work with their state apprenticeship offices to make sure that apprenticeship programs are complying with DOL requirements meant to prevent discrimination in apprenticeship programs.
Another very important tool is the use of local and economic hiring preferences. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law these preferences are allowed for construction projects, including installing EV chargers. This means that states can set a percentage of the workforce that needs to come from certain geographic locations or economic backgrounds. It's important to know that these preferences can be purely geographic, preferencing people from the state; or they can be a combination of economic and geographic, preferencing people from zip codes or census tracks that are economically disadvantaged; or they can be purely economic, such as preferencing hiring of people that we know are economically disadvantaged, including single parents, people with lower levels of education, people on public assistance, and people with criminal convictions.
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Title 6 applies to the NEVI program and mandates that no person shall on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
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Title 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any private entity who owns, leases, leases to, or operates a place of public accommodation. The access board will be coming out with additional information on designing EV chargers for people with disabilities later this summer.
I will now turn it back over to Torrey Lyons, who will present the last segment of the webinar.
Torrey: Thank you so much, Kristin. So in this last section of the webinar I will be discussing some of the equity-oriented activities that can be covered by NEVI funding. There are many equity-oriented activities covered by NEVI funding, and some of the categories that can be included are: community engagement activities, data sharing, mapping and analysis, workforce development activities, and updating stations to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. For further clarification on eligibility of equity-related expenses we ask you all to refer to the NEVI program guidance as well as the frequently asked questions document that we have referred to throughout this presentation. Links to those documents, again, can be found in the chat and also through the www.DriveElectric.gov website.
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So to summarize some of the key points presented in today's webinar, critical Justice40 and equity elements to consider in state plans include identifying, prioritizing, and measuring benefits for disadvantaged communities from electric vehicle charging infrastructure investments; using the EV charging Justice40 map tool for identifying transportation and energy disadvantaged communities; creating and implementing a meaningful community engagement process, including who to engage and how to engage them; developing a diverse electric vehicle infrastructure workforce and contracting pool with small and disadvantaged businesses; and finally, addressing Title 6, Americans with Disability Act and Section 504 requirements in the NEVI planning and implementation process.
We thank you all for the opportunity to share this information regarding elements that will contribute to state plans that adequately consider equity, and ultimately to a national charging network that's affordable, convenient, safe, reliable and equitable.
If you would go to the next slide. Next slide, please.
So the www.DriveElectric.gov is the Joint Office's website, and there you can find additional resources and also a place to contact the Joint Office. And please refer to this website, again, it's www.DriveElectric.gov. From there you can request technical assistance, find some of the data maps and tools that we have referred to today. You can sign up for events or view recorded events like this one. You can find career opportunities and also join our e-mail list. Additionally, the Joint Office can be reached by phone at the number listed there on the presentation.
And we will go to the next slide where we will find our last poll question.
So again, please either text NRELWEBINARS to 22333 or use the link in the chat to access the poll on the Web. One of the main functions of the Joint Office is to provide technical assistance, and as such we'd like to know which equity or Justice40 technical assistance topics should the Joint Office prioritize to support NEVI implementation. So we have ADA or Title 6 considerations, community engagement, siting electric vehicle infrastructure with equity or Justice40 considerations, Justice40 benefits metrics and methods, and maximizing economic benefits for disadvantaged communities.
It looks like the benefit metrics and methods are coming in as the popular response. And again, the final results will be posted when we post this webinar. And we'll give just a few more moments for folks to respond to this poll and then I will pass it off to my colleague, Steve Lommele, who will moderate our Q&A portion of the webinar. Thank you all so much for your attention so far.
Steve: Thanks, Torrey. We're just processing some questions that have come in. I was wondering, maybe Torrey and Monisha, if you could talk generally about what guidance we have for states and how they will be factoring in outreach perhaps to individuals with disabilities?
Monisha: Sorry, Steve, could you repeat that question? It's breaking up a little bit.
Steve: Sorry, I will try again. Can y'all hear me?
Steve: So we've had a few questions come in with respect to disadvantaged communities, specifically persons with disabilities. Is there anything specific you can share on how states are factoring in outreach to communities with disabilities as part of their NEVI plan development?
Monisha: Yeah, that's a great question, Steve. And I think we have some experts from our access board on our call with us today. But one thing I wanted to note is that there is a requirement to consider the Americans with Disabilities Act. Funding from NEVI program funds can be used to update stations to meet those requirements. The access board will be coming out with new guidance or best practices later this summer, which are being updated to match the NEVI program state implementation. And on community engagement, you know, the guides that Torrey walked through that the Department of Transportation and FHWA have published in the past do recommend engaging with a number of different diverse stakeholders and using methods that allow folks with disabilities to participate in stakeholder engagement, especially those that are visually or hearing impaired. So there are recommendations in those documents to help with that type of stakeholder engagement.
Steve: Great. Thank you, Monisha.
Monisha: Steve, I think another question that we could take was one on if there's a requirement for states to engage the public and stakeholders before they submit their NEVI plans on August 1st. So we just wanted to address that, that if it is at all possible for states to engage with stakeholders, especially disadvantaged communities prior to August 1st, that we are heavily encouraging that. But we do recognize that creating a meaningful community engagement process, especially with community members that may not have been involved with transportation planning in the past does take time and it does take time especially to build trust.
So what we're hoping to see as well in the plans is almost a plan for a plan, which is how states plan to engage with a diverse set of stakeholders across their state as they develop their NEVI programs and implementation approaches.
Steve: Great. Thanks, Monisha. And then there's another question here. By what metrics do we measure our Justice40 impacts with respect to charging deployment?
Torrey: I'll go ahead and answer that one, and then maybe I'll look to Monisha to add some additional nuance to my answer. But the reason I'm starting is because one of the first steps in that process of which benefits to measure is community engagement. So in the frequently asked questions document we list a number of potential benefits that states can measure for identifying progress in the program and complying with the Justice40 requirements. But one of the things that we're recommending that states do is that they look to disadvantaged communities to identify what the disadvantaged community's priorities and concerns are and use that information from disadvantaged communities in their decisions as to which benefits to measure.
So we don't want to necessarily prescribe that states are measuring specific benefits, but rather that here we're providing a list of things to consider and asking them to engage with disadvantaged communities and have those conversations help to identify what the disadvantaged community's priorities are and have that reflected in the measurement of benefits to disadvantaged communities.
Monisha, do you want to add anything to that response?
Alright, great. Maybe we can move on to the next question.
Steve: I think there's another one here that's really interesting and it's, "As electric vehicles become more affordable and common what are people thinking about for long-term considerations with respect to energy equity, such as utility subsidies or discounts for low-income individuals and families to use charging stations." Are you all aware of kind of what the thinking is on that topic?
Monisha: I think, you know, again, as part of the NEVI planning process another recommendation is to sit down with the local utilities in your state to talk about what the charging infrastructure might look like in the future, how the charging infrastructure investments are going to affect different communities across the state, and how those impacts can be planned out and borne accordingly. So I think sitting down with the local utility is a great place to start on that.
And there are some states that have already done a lot of EV infrastructure implementation and had programs that focus on low to moderate income communities or disadvantaged communities, so there might be some lessons learned that we hope to also communicate back out with some of the technical systems that we will be developing.
I think another question that's been coming up is, you know, in citing chargers are you asking to site chargers, you know, 40% of chargers in disadvantaged communities? And we just wanted to kind of note that 40% of benefits doesn't necessarily equal, you know, 40% of investments. The list of benefits that Torrey mentioned that are listed both in the 90-day guidance as well as in the frequently asked questions does outline a number of different types of benefits in terms of like jobs and job training, providing opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses, reducing emissions, and also transportation cost burden. And so these are the types of benefits that we're hoping that the NEVI plans will target towards disadvantaged communities. And so just wanted to make that quick distinction.
Steve: Great. We've gotten a number of questions about the community discretionary grant program, and I'll just note that we expect additional information on that to come out later this year. So there's lots of questions here about the specifics of that, and we just don't have the answer to that right now because the discretionary grants haven't been announced yet.
Let's see, also some kind of recognizing that medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles do contribute to air quality issues and that there's a push for electrification of those vehicles as well. So I'll just note that a number of states are thinking about efforts that they can take with NEVI to potentially support medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles in the future. The NEVI Formula Program itself is primarily a light-duty vehicle electrification program, although some states are thinking about how they may be able to future-proof or even build stations now that could meet the needs of some of those fleets. And then of course there are lots of efforts across DOE and DOT thinking more broadly about the electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.
Maybe—here's a good one for Monisha and Torrey. What does success look like in the end with respect to equity?
Torrey: I'll try and start with that. I think that first of all that's a difficult question to answer. But I think one of the best ways that you can answer that question is to have a great understanding of what the priorities of your disadvantaged communities are in the first place. And again, that's an iterative process, and as Monisha said, that takes a long time to build trust and to establish those connections. But a successful state plan, which would result in a successful and equitable charging network, the only way to know that success is to know what the priorities are of disadvantaged communities. And priorities includes what sort of benefits they're hoping to obtain and what sort of impacts they're hoping to avoid. And so having—I think that a successful state will have a robust and meaningful community engagement process that helps to identify what those priorities are, and then chooses to track those priorities, communicates that information back to disadvantaged communities, and continues to build upon that process of both engagement and measurement of the program.
Monisha, do you want to add anything to that?
Alright, great. So again, so the answer to that question is, again, it's going to differ from state to state, and that's why we ask states to participate in that community engagement, so that you know what the communities in your state are prioritizing the most.
Steve: Great. Thank you, Torrey. And then another question for both of you. So states are asked to identify, prioritize, and measure benefits. Do the tools and technical assistance support that the Joint Office provides include things like case studies or example templates or other metrics and methodologies to measure benefits?
Monisha: I can take that one, Steve. Yeah, that's a great question. You know, the Joint Office was just recently established, and we honestly want to have this conversation with all of you to figure out what is it that you need. The last poll question was sort of which technical assistance topics are of most interest to this set of folks that are on this webinar. I will say that Torrey and myself, we come from national laboratories, where we do have a number of different analysis tools and capabilities to collect lessons learned and develop case studies. And so our plan is to listen to the needs that you guys have, read the state plans and see what you're planning to focus on, and then developing the technical assistance tools, both qualitative and quantitative approaches, that we can put forward to help you be successful in implementing your plans.
Steve: So we've had a number of questions come in about equity in the workforce. Can you just kind of talk generally about how states should be thinking about that?
Monisha: Yeah, and I might—Paige, I don't know if you're available to take that question. We have one of our colleagues from the Department of Transportation who is a workforce development expert.
But in the meanwhile I will say that there are a number of resources that Department of Energy and Department of Transportation have put forward in partnership with Department of Labor on workforce development. So there is a fact sheet on different types of funding sources. There is, I think, expanded opportunities to use federal highways dollars for workforce training and development efforts. So that fact sheet is in one of the chat messages.
There's also recently a frequently asked questions document on economic and local hiring information, and also on workforce training and development frequently asked questions as well related to not just the NEVI program, but a number of other transportation programs.
Steve: Oh, here's a good one. So there have been a lot of language and terms that have been used in this webinar, and I think there's a lot of language that's helpful to be familiar with with respect to equity in general. Is there a glossary of terms? Or what's a good resource for understanding things like equitable engagement or historically oppressed or marginalized groups, that sort of thing?
Monisha: Yeah. I think one place to start is the, though the White House has a Justice40 Initiative webpage, which does describe sort of the background and impetus for the Justice40 Initiative, as well as the interim guidance that was issued last summer. And so many of the terms there used as part of the Justice40 effort are defined in that interim guidance.
There's also our EV charging Justice40 map. That website also has a lot of information about how we came up with our joint interim definition on disadvantaged communities, the methodology, and the underlying data sets. And then I think, again, hopefully we don't sound like a broken record, but the frequently asked questions that were released at the beginning of June for the NEVI program does have a lot of really useful information about community engagement and Justice40, as well as some very useful links, which are embedded in the frequently asked questions about public engagement.
Torrey, I don't know if there's anything else you'd like to add on the topic.
Torrey: I think that the list you provided was pretty comprehensive. I would add that the report from the Vehicle Technologies Office that is linked on the EV charging Justice40 map landing page also defines some of those terms as well.
Steve: Alright. Well, Monisha and Torrey, we're about out of time. I do want to point out that on www.DriveElectric.gov we have a Contact Us form, so there are a number of questions that came in that we were unable to get to today, but we are available. Torrey highlighted that we've got phone, email, that sort of thing. And then we've been doing regional office hours with states to address a lot of these questions that come up as they're developing and implementing their state plans. So we do want to be a resource for all of you and we do encourage you all to reach out to us via www.DriveElectric.gov/contactus.
And then, Monisha and Torrey, anything else you want to wrap up with before we finish?
Torrey: I'd just like to thank everyone for being here and giving us such great and engaging questions. there were many more questions than we were able to answer in this time and so they're noted and we'll be thinking about those and working on those in the meantime. And we had great attendance to this webinar and we're really excited to have the opportunity to share this information. It's been somewhat of a long time coming; we're glad that we were able to share what we were and we will be working even harder in the future to disseminate more information on how states can create state plans and then ultimately a national network that's equitable. And that's one of the main goals of the Joint Office. And we're happy to continue to work with all of you to refine that process.
So thanks again, everyone, for participating.
Monisha: Yeah, thank you. And as Torrey mentioned, we're all learning and working on this together, so we're here to help you do this in partnership and to learn from all of you. So please be in touch and let us know how we can help.
Steve: Great. Thanks so much, everyone. And as a reminder, we will have a recording of this posted on www.DriveElectric.gov in the coming weeks. Thanks so much, everyone.