Energy and Environmental Justice
Clean Cities coalitions are helping improve equitable access to clean transportation options by engaging with their local communities to co-develop projects and solutions that meet real, on-the-ground needs. Coalition activities can advance energy and environmental justice (EEJ) goals and benefit underserved and overburdened communities in a variety of ways, including:
- Improving air quality
- Reducing energy and transportation costs
- Increasing access to alternative fuel vehicles, electric vehicle charging stations, and clean public transportation
- Providing job training to operate and maintain clean transportation vehicles and infrastructure
- Engaging first responders in alternative fuel vehicle safety training
- Fostering business opportunities and economic development.
This work aligns with the Biden administration's Justice40 Initiative, which reflects a federal commitment to tackling long-standing environmental justice issues including climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and development of critical water and wastewater infrastructure. The Justice40 Initiative established a goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.
Clean Cities Energy and Environmental Justice Initiative (EEJI)
Clean Cities coalitions are collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy and its national laboratories to help ensure the benefits of federal investments in clean transportation reach underserved and overburdened communities as part of Justice40. To accomplish this, the Clean Cities Energy and Environmental Justice Initiative (EEJI) was created to provide coalitions with training and resources on how to take a community-first approach to developing transportation projects. This builds on the nearly 30 years of experience within the Clean Cities Coalition Network of working locally in communities across the country to implement alternative fuels, fuel-saving technologies and practices, and new mobility choices. Clean Cities coalitions can apply this experience to co-create transportation projects alongside community-based partners, together transforming our transportation systems in an equitable way.
The first phase of the Clean Cities EEJI kicked off with a series of webinars, which provided coalitions with training and resources on community engagement best practices, historic transportation inequities, disproportionate impacts of transportation projects on marginalized communities, and metrics to evaluate project impacts. The webinar series was followed by the second phase of the initiative, which involved Deep Dive training workshops. Twenty-nine coalitions participated in these workshops and received in-depth training on community-focused collaboration with underserved communities; listening to priorities, concerns, and opportunities; and assisting in the design and implementation of projects. Seventeen of these coalitions will continue to the third phase of the Deep Dive to receive additional training, as well as funding to hire a community engagement liaison to further their work locally.
Find resources for defining, mapping, and understanding EEJ as it relates to transportation technologies:
Embracing EEJI at the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office presentation from the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office
Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool mapping tool from the White House Council on Environmental Quality to identify overburdened and underserved communities, as well as Federally Recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Villages, that are considered disadvantaged communities
Energy Justice: Key Concepts and Metrics Relevant to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Transportation Projects report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Using Mapping Tools to Prioritize Electric Vehicle Charger Benefits to Underserved Communities report from Argonne National Laboratory
Environmental Justice Impacts of Zero Emissions Vehicles report from the ZEV Alliance, ICF, Forth, and Cenex.
Environmental justice refers to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. Learn more about environmental justice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Energy justice refers to the goal of achieving equity in both the social and economic participation in the energy system, while also remediating social, economic, and health burdens on those disproportionately harmed by the energy system. Energy justice explicitly centers the concerns of communities at the frontline of pollution and climate change (“frontline communities”), working class people, indigenous communities, and those historically disenfranchised by racial and social inequity. Energy justice aims to make energy accessible, affordable, clean, and democratically managed for all communities. Learn more about energy justice from the Initiative for Energy Justice.