DOT’s Discretionary EV Charging Funding Mandates Environmental Justice

March 17, 2023

On March 14, 2023, the Biden Administration opened the first round of the $2.5 billion discretionary complement to the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. While NEVI provides $5 billion to the states to implement plans to build electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) new Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program directs federal dollars to a “wide range of applicants, including cities, counties, local governments, and tribes.”

Like NEVI, CFI prioritizes environmental justice in its attempt to realize President Biden’s national network of 500,000 EV charging stations from New York to California.

The first round of funding makes $700 million available to extend EV charging stations beyond communities of privilege for the benefit of disadvantaged and low-income communities. U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm celebrates CFI as a means of “extending EV charging infrastructure into traditionally underserved areas.” So how does CFI specifically address environmental justice?

The CFI program issues competitive grants for projects that fill in pieces NEVI leaves missing. That is, NEVI requires all EV charging stations to be built along alternative fuel corridors (AFCs), but CFI also makes available urban centers like downtown districts and rural areas like less populated neighborhoods across disadvantaged and low-income communities.

Like NEVI, CFI was launched via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), a historic $1.2 trillion piece of legislation to overhaul America’s transportation sector. BIL bifurcated CFI into two $1.25 billion programs: the NEVI-aligned Corridor Program and the Community Program. The former will add to NEVI’s $5 billion effort to construct EV charging stations along AFCs while adding other alternative fuels like propane and hydrogen. The Community Program is novel in that it will allow for the expanded array of alternative fuel stations in disadvantaged urban and rural areas so long as they are publicly accessible.

CFI expands NEVI beyond AFCs and into the heart and soul of everyday localities. New alternative fueling stations will spring up across local parks, schools, and even parking facilities.

Could your firm, agency, or organization use some help navigating this $2.5 billion funding opportunity? GNA, North America’s leading clean transportation and energy consulting firm, is here to help. Reach out if you would like to strategize around environmental justice and clean transportation. Here’s to a season full of transformational EV charging — and human — investment.