Mapping Tools to Identify Underserved Communities—DOE Justice Week Webinar (Text Version)
This is a text version of the video for Mapping Tools to Identify Underserved Communities—DOE Justice Week Webinar presented on Sept. 15, 2022.
Joanna Allerhand: All right. This webinar will feature an overview of the Justice40 Initiative, mapping definition tools, additional relevant mapping tools, and case studies. We'll then have some time for questions. Our presenters today are Margaret Smith, Joann Zhou, and Jim Kuiper.
Margaret Smith is a Technology Manager in the U.S. Department of Energy's Vehicle Technologies Office. Joann Zhou is a Principal Analyst and Interim Center Director of the Systems Assessment Center at Argonne National Laboratory. And Jim Kuiper, also from Argonne, is the Technical Coordinator for the Energy Zones Mapping Tool, which you'll hear about later in this webinar. And I will now hand it over to Margaret.
Margaret Smith: Thank you very much. Good afternoon, everyone. You can go to the next slide.
All right. So, for those of you who are not familiar with the Justice40 Initiative, it is a commitment that 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments, including clean energy, flow to disadvantaged communities. Next.
I work with DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE, and our mission closely aligns with the Justice40 Initiative. We are working to ensure the clean energy economy benefits all Americans, especially workers in communities impacted by the energy transition, those historically underserved by the energy system, and communities which are overburdened by pollution. EERE's four crosscutting principles are energy and environmental justice, diversity in STEM, workforce development, and state and local partnerships. Next slide.
The DOE Justice40 Initiative website provides information on how DOE is implementing Justice40. DOE's approach centers around eight policy priorities: decrease energy burden in disadvantaged communities, decrease environmental exposure and burdens, increase parity in clean energy technology, access, and adoption, increase access to low-cost capital, increase clean energy enterprise creation, increase the clean energy job pipeline and job training for individuals from disadvantaged communities, increase energy resiliency, and increase energy democracy. Next slide.
So, before I describe a few mapping tools for identifying disadvantaged communities, I want to review this timeline, which explains why there are so many federal mapping tools related to Justice40. The Justice40 Initiative was established with an executive order in January of 2021. It's often referred to as J40 for short. That summer, in July 2021, the White House Office of Management and Budget released J40 interim implementation guidance. It included guidance on how to develop an interim definition of disadvantaged communities for the early stages of the Justice40 Initiative, and it required agencies such as DOE to submit metrics at the end of the year which quantify how our investments benefit disadvantaged communities.
Throughout 2021 the White House's Council on Environmental Quality was developing a tool that identifies which census tracts are considered disadvantaged for the federal Justice40 Initiative, but it would not be ready for release until early 2022 because of the robust stakeholder engagement process and the due diligence that they were putting into creating this tool. And when it was released in early 2022 it was released in beta mode to gather public input – so, not enough final definition state.
So, to meet last year's December Justice40 reporting deadline, agencies had to create their own interim working disadvantaged community definition. So, with multiple agencies creating their own definitions came multiple tools for viewing a map showing which census tracts are considered disadvantaged. I'm going to provide a high-level overview of four of those tools. Next slide.
First, DOE's Energy Justice Mapping Tool identifies disadvantaged communities based on the Department of Energy's working definition. DOE's definition is based on cumulative burden and includes data for 36 burden indicators collected at the census tract level. These burden indicators can be grouped across four categories. Then numbers next to each of these categories represent the number of indicators in that category. So, two fossil dependence indicators, five energy burden indicators, 10 environmental and climate indicators, and 19 socioeconomic vulnerability indicators. And Joann will demonstrate this tool later in the webinar. Next slide.
The Department of Transportation's Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts Tool identifies disadvantaged communities based on DOT's working definition. The DOT interim definition included data for 22 indicators collected at the census tract level and grouped into six categories of transportation disadvantage. You can find these status sets and indicators in DOT's website. Next slide.
The third tool is a collaboration between the Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy. In November 2021 the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law established a National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, or NEVI, program which includes $5 billion of formula funding managed by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The formula funding is allocated to state DOTs. The infrastructure law also established a Joint Office of Energy and Transportation to facilitate collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Joint Office worked closely with Justice40 leadership at DOT and DOE on strategies for incorporating equity in the NEVI program and considering how Justice40 applies to this program. Consistent with the White House's Justice40 interim guidance, DOT and DOE developed a joint interim definition of disadvantaged communities for the NEVI program. This joint definition includes census tracts identified as disadvantaged from DOT's working definition, census tracts identified as disadvantaged from DOE's working definition, tribal lands, and U.S. territories. Tool number three is the EV Charging Justice40 Map, which displays the NEVI disadvantaged community definition as well as other data layers relevant to deploying electric vehicle chargers. Next slide.
The fourth tool is the White House Council on Environmental Quality's Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, also referred to as CEJST. This tool was released in beta version along with a request for public feedback. Once the White House has received and reviewed feedback on the beta version of the CEJST and updated it, federal agencies can use the tool to help identify disadvantaged communities. The tool has different methodologies based on the categories listed on this slide. I do not know when the CEJST tool will be updated or moved out of beta version. I can say that at this point in the Justice40 Initiative, DOE is continuing to use its disadvantaged community definition but will also recognize disadvantaged communities identified in the CEJST tool. Next slide.
So, each of these tools vary based on the agency's focus or mission. They all use national datasets but have different methodologies for determining which indicators they use or how they are weighted. The first three tools in the table are interim working definitions based on interim Justice40 guidance. The White House tool is still subject to change since it's in beta mode. Next slide.
So, defining which census tracts are considered disadvantaged is necessary for calculating Justice40 metrics, but the heart of the Justice40 Initiative is in prioritizing federal investments such that they benefit underserved and overburdened communities. So, I realize it could be confusing to think through "Which tool should I be using?" and I think it just has to do with what is the purpose for identifying a disadvantaged community or an underserved community. If you're applying for a federal funding opportunity, I would recommend using the definition for that agency. A DOT opportunity, use the DOT definition. A Department of Energy opportunity, use DOE's definition. If it's electric vehicle charging stations for NEVI funding, use that definition. But if your goal is to identify underserved and overburdened communities for a specific project, then you could also create your own list of indicators and factors that you want to be prioritizing, whether it is related to energy burden, or the costs related to energy expenditures. Or environmental burden if it's a project that will help improve air quality, you could focus on communities that have a high level of particulate matter 2.5 in the air.
It's also good to remember that local knowledge of a region or a state is important – is an important consideration when determining which communities are underserved or overburdened and for understanding the historical context within that community. So, mapping tools can be used to identify underserved communities based on various indicators. EPA's EJScreen tool provides environmental indicators that can be used to better understand which communities are overburdened by pollution. DOE's Low-Income Energy Affordability Tool identifies communities that spend a high percentage of income on energy costs. If – you may be thinking "Wouldn't it be great if all of that data was available in one tool and I could just pull in the layers that are relevant to me, whether it's a federal disadvantaged community definition or an EPA EJScreen layer, or a DOE LEAD tool layer." Well, my colleagues from Argonne will describe the Energy Zones Mapping Tool, which it does allow you to pull on those layers and see them all in one map. So, that is also possible.
So, some of these tools are useful for seeing a specific definition. Some of them are useful for seeing specific layers of information. And there are other tools that allow you to do GIS modeling or suitability analysis or more advanced work within a mapping tool. Next slide.
So, we wanted to just give a little more information about the data layers available through EJScreen. So, the specific environmental indicators and demographic indicators available through EJScreen are shown on this slide. EJScreen also offers EJ indexes, which combine demographic factors with a single environmental factor, and EJScreen data layers can be downloaded and used in other mapping applications for JS analysis or suitability mapping. Next slide.
So, before I hand the presentation over to Joann I want to mention the Electric Vehicle Charging Equity Considerations website that hosts the NEVI Justice40 map and also has a report and recorded webinar on using mapping tools to prioritize EV charger benefits to underserved communities. The report and webinar provide examples of data layers that can help target benefits to communities that are most underserved. So, the focus of that website and the report is electric vehicle charging but the way that the authors – which Joann, Jim, and I were coauthors on it – so, the way that we structure the report using these mapping tools could be transferrable to other projects trying to identify underserved communities for specific project goals and has a few different scenarios for identifying what your objectives are and then what data layers may be best to include based on those objectives.
So, you can move to the next slide and I will hand things over to Joann.
Joann Zhou: Okay. Thank you, Margaret. Can you hear me?
Margaret Smith: Yes.
Joann Zhou: Okay. Great. Okay. So, as Margaret introduced, the DOE working definition of disadvantaged communities is based on accumulated burden and included data from 36 indicators collected on a census tract level. So, those burdens including fossil dependency, energy burden, environmental climate has an associated economic factor. So, at the DOE's request Argonne developed this energy justice mapping tool to visualize DOE's working definition of disadvantaged, shown here on the left side. And here I'm going to go to the demo of the tool, and after that – and I will also demo the Joint Office EV Charging Justice40 Map. It's another tool that was requested by the Joint Office that Argonne developed to visualize the Joint Office definition of disadvantaged communities. Okay. Let me start sharing my screen.
Can you see the screen, the Energy Justice Mapping Tool?
Margaret Smith: Yes.
Joann Zhou: Okay. I am putting it on my big monitor, so I am not looking at a camera this way. So, once you go into the link which is provided on the slides you will see an introduction slide talking about what this tool is and why we have the tool. And you can click to download the indications – sorry, the data, indicated descriptions, and all the documents, including the shape files.
So, I see the question that is asking whether Alaska and Hawaii is included. And they are included. And also, including other territories that are all considered as disadvantaged communities. So, it is important to note all the tribal lands and U.S. territories are also considered disadvantaged communities in this map, even though they are showing in a different color. So, this is in the active plan form that allows you to visualize the disadvantaged communities, see the indicators of why they are disadvantaged, and also print out a full report. You can use the tool by searching the location. It's just like using the Google Map tools. So, you can type a location and it will try to guess the location you want to search. And you will zoom into a census tract that is representative of that city, and after that you can navigate to the census tract that you want to see the details.
You can – if you know the details of the tract number or the tribal name or even territory name, you can type it here and it will go to that census tract directly. The census tract normally is a four-digit number that is showing you – once you click on a census tract the number will show here. But in the case that you know the number you could directly type it in here.
So, as I mentioned, the DOE definition is a cumulative burden with 36 indicators. So, each census tract could be considered as disadvantaged based on different indicators or the cumulation of different indicators. So, here I just want to show you some examples. You see each census tract that may have different needs. So, here is one census tract in Utah. So, this is East Carbon in Utah. It's disadvantaged based on the state ranking of 36 indicators. So, it is important to note that the DOE definition is based on the state ranking of the census tract. So, it's a cumulative burden of all the 36 indicators and the census tract needs to be considered disadvantaged if they rank it higher than 80% than other state counties – so, just compared with other state counties within the same state. In other words, the DOE definition considers the worst 20% within each state.
So, this census tract, once you put it – once you click it, it shows that the census tract has a very high dependence on fossil energy and also has low job accessibility, so – which means that the census tract could benefit from the clean energy industry transition, providing workforce training to increase the job accessibility to a new industry.
Another example that I can show once you zoom out and move around, you can go to another example here. I will show one census tract in Florida. So, this one is surrounded by several census tracts and also is considered disadvantaged. And as you can see, this is the state ranking, the national ranking, and their DAC score. At the same time, you also see the indicators, the top indicators that make the community considered as disadvantaged in our definition. So, this census tract actually has a high percentage of people living in mobile homes, and they also have a high dependency on coal employment. They also have a low accessibility to the jobs. So, projects and programs that can increase the job accessibility, providing workforce training, and also increase the economic impact in this region – because you can see that most of the people – a lot of – they have a high percentage of people living in mobile homes. They also have a high percentage of the population without internet access.
So, the third example I would like to show here, if you zoom in and – sorry, zoom out and move around, it's in Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. This example is related to the second tool I will show as the Joint Office EV mapping tool. So, here is a census tract. If you click that, you can see that they have a high percentage of PM 2.5. At the same time, they also have a high transportation volume. So, it's this one. Okay. Let's see. I think I clicked the wrong one. Yeah. Okay.
Yeah. So, this is the one. So, this census tract has high PM 2.5 air pollutants, and at the same time they have a high traffic volume. So, likely, the high energy – sorry, the higher pollution is due to the high energy – sorry, the traffic volume. So, this is a census tract that can benefit from transportation electrification. It will reduce air quality – sorry, air pollution, improve the air quality.
Okay. Jumping to the second tool, which is the Joint Office definition of disadvantaged communities – the link is provided on the slides. And once you go to the link, it has a similar page showing you the introduction of the tool and why we have the tool here. And this tool has several different layers showing you the public EV charging stations, focused on the DC fast-charging, the electric substations, the FHWA-designated EV corridor, including one to six. It also includes tribal lands, U.S. territories, and also the DOE/DOT interim guidance DAC definition.
So, you can zoom into each census tract to see whether they are considered as a disadvantaged community based on the DOE/DOT definition. And if we go to the same place that I was showing you earlier – so, this is the census tract – sorry, it's a little bit hard to navigate. Okay. So, this is the census tract I showed earlier in the Justice40 map for the DOE definition, that we see they have a higher traffic volume and also high air pollution. And as you can see from this map, they are close to FHWA – that's this corridor, but this is an EV corridor pending, which means this section of the corridor has an insufficient number of EV charging stations. However, when you click the electric substations, you can see that they are close to the substations. So, this highway, the corridor is close to the substation within the census tract, which means that likely you could have a high-powered charging station that will have a sufficient electricity supply.
With that, I will go back to the slides. Thanks. Do I need to stop sharing? Okay.
Joanna Allerhand: You should be good. Are the slides showing up?
Joann Zhou: Yep. Okay. I will transfer it to Jim to present EZMT and I will come back with case studies. Thanks.
Jim Kuiper: Hello, everyone. I'm Jim Kuiper. I work with Joann and others here at Argonne. And this is yet another tool that we have running. This particular mapping tool was developed about 10 years ago and we've added both equity data and transportation-related data to it recently. It changes over time, so some of the equity variables that have been mentioned today are in it and others will be added or are planned to be added. It's a general-purpose energy planning tool. Some of the advantages of it is it has a very large mapping library and it concentrates on energy resources like wind energy, solar, etcetera. It has energy infrastructure data in it, like transmission lines and substations. And then, a lot of siting factors that come into play when you're siting energy projects.
One of the unique aspects of the tool is it has suitability models, and these models allow you to take a set of siting factors – for example, population density or proximity to existing charging stations or other variables like that – and you can include equity measures and it computes a composite score, so you can use that to highlight areas on the map that meet a whole set of siting criteria. How it works is not something we can explain in a few minutes on this webinar, but there are some resources for that. We're also right on the cusp of releasing GEM, the Geospatial Energy Mapper, which is an updated and rebranded version of the EZMT with many of the same capabilities. Next slide, please.
So, here are some of the equity-focused layers that we have in the modeling system. So, you can use any of these variables in the models when you're planning – or, you're looking at siting factors related to equity. So, for example, if you wanted to include low-income percentage, you could use that variable and assign a suitability to it. And if you wanted to – if your project benefits areas with low income, then you would rate a higher suitability for those particular communities. If it's detrimental, then you would reverse the suitability, and the tool would help you lower the suitability for those.
So, this approach is a pretty commonly used GIS technique and it's available to you in this context to run an internet browser. We are definitely interested in your feedback about layers that would be most useful for your analysis, so you can use the tool's e-mail address to reach us with those comments. Next slide, please.
So, we're also right at the point of publishing the report here on the left. And this report does provide greater depth and kind of how the modeling works. The appendix has a step-by-step guide that demonstrates how to run one of the models and review the results, etcetera. The dialogue in the middle is an example of the model parameters. So, in this case this is a suitability model that's intended to help with planning electric vehicle charging stations along a corridor. And you can see there is the DOE/DOT interim guidance – the NEVI definition is in the tool. So, those communities that have been indicated as disadvantaged would be assigned a higher suitability in this particular model. And then, the graphic on the right, the map is zoomed out here. It has the corridors highlighted and you can kind of vaguely see that areas along the corridor are higher suitability, and there's all these other factors coming into play. And then, there are a couple examples given, high suitability locations where you can zoom the map in and look at the results and start investigating those for potential project locations.
It's important – this is just a tool, so it's available to all stakeholders to use with their own priorities and settings. So, the models that we put in here are just really a starting point that help you get started, and it's very important to inspect the settings and to adjust them according to your own priorities and interests.
All right. Thank you. And if you contact us at the e-mail, I would be happy to answer specific questions about the EZMT. Thank you.
Joann Zhou: Okay. So, as Jim indicated, EZMT has both the function of mapping layers and also doing suitability analysis. So, due to the time limitation here, I'm presenting three case studies using the EZMT to show how you could overlay the DAC, either the definition from DOE or the definition from other agencies, overlay that DAC layer with other data that are from different resources or from your own collection to have a more defined picture of identified underserved communities that can benefit from your specific project or program based on your objectives.
So, the case study, again, is just showing the mapping function of EZMT, but we do have the suitability analysis if you want to weight your factors and indicators. As Margaret and Jim indicated, that is presented in earlier slides – the link is provided in earlier slides, and feel free to look at our detailed webinar to – we demonstrated how you can use the EZMT for different case studies.
So, here, again – so, the first case study is just to show how we can identify the DOE working definition of DAC that has a high environmental burden due to poor air pollution by overlaying the DOE DAC layers with the PM 2.5 data from the EPA EJScreen tool, the latest version. So, here, the map here shows that census tract that is defined as a DOE disadvantaged community but at the same time has a PM 2.5 higher than 80th percentile within the state. So, it's important to note that the comparison is within the state. So, some census tracts in some states are large, so that's why you see it's very big on the map, but in some urban areas, if you zoom in, you will see a lot of census tracts because they're high population. However, some census tracts, although they show you a high PM 2.5 level within that state, but it could be low when they compare with other census tracts in different states. So, this map could be useful to identify the communities that you can – your program or project can help to decrease the environmental exposure and burdens. This is aligned with the Justice40 priority and aligned with the EERE principle that wants to address environmental justice for those disadvantaged communities.
So, again, the big national map, it's hard to see each individual community, so – next slide – we'll show you – zoom into the map for a particular location that, again, here we overlay the DOE defined definition of – sorry, the DOE working definition of disadvantaged community with the community that has a high PM 2.5. And you can see how they overlay with each other and those in the community who can benefit from a program that decreases environmental exposure and environmental burdens. Okay. Next slide, please.
So, the second study, we want to use this one to show how you can identify the overlaps with the DOE DACs and communities of color. So, again, the map here shows you the DOE DAC overlay with the population percentage of color that is above 80th percentile within that state. Again, the data is from the EPA EJScreen tool, the latest version. So, this map is useful to – for you to think about developing workforce training programs or other initiatives that can contribute to both the Justice40 priority which wants to increase the clean energy job pipeline and the job training for individuals from disadvantaged communities and is also aligned with the EERE principle that it can force a diverse STEM workforce. So, this is the – this indicator, particular indicator, population of color, is not included in the definition on DOE DAC, and this is a case just showing you how you can overlay DOC with other data from a different database. Again – next slide please.
So, here we are showing you an example that zooms into a particular city or region, how the DAC layer overlays, again, with the population percentage, higher than 80th percentile within that state. And in this case, and if you go to the Energy Justice – DOE's Energy Justice Mapping Tool, you might just find out some of the communities here currently have a verified dependence on a fossil industry or coal industry, and those are the communities that can benefit from a workforce training. Again, it's aligned with the Justice40 priority that we can increase a clean energy job pipeline for those communities. Next, please.
Okay. So, the case study three, we wanted to use this one to identify the DAC but based on the Joint Office, the DOE/DOT definition of these disadvantaged communities, but find out which communities actually have a high transportation energy burden. So, it's a particular type of energy burden, so you have a very specific program that you, for example, electrify the vehicles owned by those residents or increase the efficiency of the vehicles owned by those residents. You could identify the communities that are currently facing a high transportation energy burden, which in this case we use the example of 5% of household income that is spent on vehicle fuel. Please note that the national level is about 3% of household income which is spent on transportation fuel, the vehicle fuel for the household. So, 5% here is the example of high transportation energy burden; however, that percentage, that threshold will vary by state. If you set a threshold of 5%, some states will have a very limited number of census tracts falling into that category, but in a lot of states there will be a lot of census tracts falling into that category. So, the threshold here is just an example.
So, the map here is showing you nationally when you overlay the DOE/DOT interim guidance of the DAC definition with the census tracts that have a high energy burden. So, this map is particularly useful to find out the communities that can benefit from programs that will decrease the transportation energy burdens, and it also aligns with the EERE energy principle that you build a clean energy economy across the U.S. Next slide, please.
So, this is, again, a zoomed-in map. This map is not only showing the DOE/DOT interim guidance of DAC layers on the household, the census tracts, the high energy transportation energy burden but it is also showing those census tracts that are actually close to tribal lands. So, again, this is the census tract that can benefit from the program that can improve of increase the vehicle efficiency by either replacing the older vehicles with newer, more efficient vehicles or improve electrification – like EV adoption – in those communities to reduce the transportation energy burden. Next slide. I will transfer back to Margaret.
Margaret Smith: Thank you, Joann. So, I didn't want us to wrap up today's webinar without acknowledging the importance of community engagement when developing a project or a program or an initiative that is designed to benefit underserved communities. Mapping tools can play a valuable role in identifying underserved communities that could serve as project partners and communities that could benefit from a project. They can – mapping tools can serve an important role for calculating metrics to determine which communities are benefiting from federal investments, which is the focus of the Justice40 Initiative. But community engagement is a crucial component of the Justice40 Initiative. It is important to meet with community members, listen to their priorities, and co-create projects with community members or representatives of underserved communities.
The equity guiding principles on this slide are from the report we mentioned previously, using mapping tools to prioritize EV charger benefits for underserved communities. And these principles place equity at the forefront from the very beginning of a program. They incorporate working with community partners throughout project inception, implementation, and evaluation. And too often, there is such a focus on mapping tools, modeling, and analysis prior to any engagement with underserved community members, which leads to projects which do not reflect local community priorities.
So, I think it's important to know about the tools, the four tools that we reviewed which identify disadvantaged communities from a federal Justice40 perspective. And I was trying to answer some of the questions in the Q&A while Joann and Jim were presenting, and I want to emphasize that local knowledge is very important for actually designing and implementing a project to benefit underserved and overburdened communities. The Justice40 disadvantaged community definitions are necessary for calculating metrics to hold the federal government accountable to the commitment that 40% of overall benefits flow to disadvantaged communities, but the definitions are not perfect. You cannot use a bunch of national datasets at the census tract level and get a 100% accurate assessment of every community across the nation. You may look at the map, any of those maps, and look at your neighborhood or your hometown and think "Oh, there's areas that are highlighted as disadvantaged that I think are very affluent or I wouldn't consider advantaged." Or "Wow, there are neighborhoods that are struggling that this map doesn't reflect accurately." So, these tools can only get you so far. Actually talking with people who know the communities and are from the communities is very important for the full scope of considering equity. So, next slide, which is our wrap-up slide.
So, thank you all for joining us today. We'd be happy to answer any questions to the best of our ability. I'll hand it over to the moderators to help us field the questions. And I'd ask that all the presenters turn on your cameras as well so we can answer questions together.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. This question has come in a couple of times about if attendees will have access to the slide deck, and when and where.
Margaret Smith: Yes. The slides and the recording will be posted on the Clean Cities past webinars website. And I put that link in one of the answered questions area, so you will have access to that.
Patricia Weikersheimer: So, we have a lot of questions. A number of them have been answered. I do want to ask if you put your question in chat rather than Q&A, if you could put it in the Q&A so it shows up as I read these questions. The first of the open questions is: Will the Climate and Econ Screening Tool specifically identify tribal lands as standalone?
Margaret Smith: I do not know much about that tool's methodology or plans for the future. So, I would say I can't really speak to that question. The information available on their public website is as much information as I have. I just know that they put it out there for public input and they received a lot of public input, so we'll see what the next iteration looks like based on that feedback.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. Someone had asked, I think, through the chat for links to the various tools. We do not have the ability – or, I don't have the ability to put those links in the question and answer but the moderators, Joanna or Cassandra, might be able to. Margaret, you put them in –
Margaret Smith: I put them in the chat.
Patricia Weikersheimer: – the chat, which is not visible to – I think folks are able to give us questions that way but they can't necessarily see the answers. So, if you guys are able to do that, Joanna and Cassandra, then everyone will have the links. Otherwise, before we end the webinar, we can go back to – I think it's slide 13 where we show the links to the tools that Margaret described.
Margaret Smith: Yeah, they're in the chat for everyone to see. She granted me permission after I initially sent it to just the host.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Oh, okay.
Margaret Smith: So, they're there.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Excellent. Next question, and I'm glad we have plenty of time for questions: Does the Justice40 mapping tools allow someone to filter for the Inflation Reduction Act's 30c tax credit for location eligibility? And it says, "See below." The question continues: Companies can only use the alternative fuel vehicle refueling property credit for chargers installed in a census tract, census area where the poverty rate is at least 20% or the median family income in the area is equal to or less than 80% of the statewide median income. If you need me to read that again, I can do that.
Margaret Smith: I think the Argonne team can answer that best. I would say the Justice40 mapping tools that we provided pretty much just showed the definition of disadvantaged communities but there are other mapping tools you can use to do analysis for different factors, and I wouldn't be surprised if somebody creates one specifically for those parameters. But those are not necessarily the functions in the tools that we reviewed.
Joann Zhou: Yeah, I would just add that the Justice40 map has the definition of both DOE and DOT definitions. From the DOE side, again, it's accumulated burden of all the 36 indicators, and low income is one of them. And it does not consider a particular poverty percentage; it's more accumulated: whether this one, this census tract has a low income population higher than a certain threshold, and then combined with other indicators. So, this is something good to consider, aligned with whether they reasonably pass the regulation, but the tool currently cannot provide that functionability. That's maybe a tool that such as EZMT can help you to identify the different thresholds within certain indicators that you can filter through the census tract that qualifies for the regulation requirements.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. "Have you done any work on mapping to census tracts that are designated as low income?" Is that the same thing I just read?
Joann Zhou: I already – it's a similar question. So, again, yeah, the data we use in both definitions – maybe the White House too – is from the U.S. census. So, it's considering the poverty level and also the income level defined by the U.S. census but it doesn't give you the threshold breakdown for a specific indicator, and that's something we need to use a specific tool to further define the communities that qualify.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. We have a question: What is actively avoiding causing disbenefits? So, probably a definition of disbenefits would be a good place to start.
Margaret Smith: Yes, that's a very good question. I have an engineering background; I hadn't heard the term disbenefits until Justice40 started. It's essentially burdens, harm. So, if you're centering equity in a project or program, you do not want to exacerbate the challenges that underserved communities are facing. If we're talking about environmental burden, if there's a lot of air pollution or water pollution and you are planning a project that will have an impact on that community, you do not want to cause more air pollution or water pollution. If you are working on a transportation mobility project and one of the challenges a community faces is not having safe, affordable access to transportation services, if your goal is to benefit that community, first you want to make sure you are not making it harder for them to have access to safe and affordable transportation services. So, one of those principles is avoid making things harder for those communities while also seeing if there are ways you can convey benefits to those communities based on the local community priorities.
I mean, another aspect of that, we've been doing a lot of work talking about how the $5 billion of NEVI funding that is going to be invested in electric vehicle charging stations can benefit underserved communities. And some of those communities have concerns about installing charging stations near their homes leading to gentrification-induced displacement, leading to the rising costs, rising rent, just overall cost of living increases that make it where they can't even live in their neighborhood anymore. Or, if you put in a charging station mobility hub near a specific neighborhood, will that lead to increased traffic? Will it make us there – will it cause more congestion? Will there be ways that there are disbenefits to that community, but if you just look at a map identified as a disadvantaged community you say, "I put that charging station in that census tract," somebody might say, "Oh, therefore you have met the Justice40 goal of making charging accessible to that community," but they're not driving electric vehicles and they don't actually want the charging station next to their neighborhood, then is that really a benefit or is it maybe a disbenefit?
So, that's part of why community engagement is so you can actually hear what people's priorities are and what their fears or concerns are and make that part of the decision-making and design process.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Absolutely. Next is a question for Jim: Does the EZMT allow you to focus down to sites which aren't targets for the DCFC – for DCFC chargers; however, would be good for level two charging?
Jim Kuiper: The EZMT modeling library has about a hundred layers in it, so you can mix and match any of those layers that you wish. They don't really have to be transportation-related. And so, each one of those variables can be adjusted individually as well as added or subtracted from a model. So, it's kind of more of a workbench tool once you see how the models work. And there may be variables that you need and that's why we'd like you to contact us, because we're trying to add useful modeling layers that help people solve other new problems or particular priorities for their analysis. So, it's – I would just describe it as a modeling framework that allows you to adjust those variables as you need and generate a map of that.
By the way, the GEM tool, we allow you to download your results from the model, which is something that EZMT lacks. So, we're looking forward to releasing that soon. And if you go to the EZMT when it's ready, we'll redirect you to GEM and it should be a transparent transition for you.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. Is there a link to the EZMT tutorial? I think someone may have asked about that. Or a preliminary link of a URL for GEM?
Jim Kuiper: Yes. GEM is simply GEM.anl.gov. The report is literally in the final clearance and they'll assign a URL to it shortly. So, we don't have that at this moment but it could be tomorrow. I mean, it will be very soon that there's a link, but today there isn't one.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay.
Margaret Smith: And the EZMT webinar where Jim walks through how to use that tool for EV charging, that is linked on the same website as the NEVI Justice40 map that we shared earlier.
Patricia Weikersheimer: "How do we ask questions about the DOE Justice40 DAC data descriptions and seek more detail than what is provided in the DAC indicators' PDF? Additionally, how can we understand how they are weighted in determining the DAC status?"
Joann Zhou: Yeah, so on the Energy Justice Mapping Tool there is an e-mail address on the introduction page that you can e-mail your comments, feedback, or detailed questions about a definition and weighting methodology to the e-mail and they will be actively answered. We try to put as much information as possible on the website without overwhelming people, and the tool is constantly under development and updates to provide more function. So, if you have any feedback on it, please feel free to send it to the same e-mail account.
One example that we received as a function, future function is whether you can select several DACs at the same time and print out a report for all of them by one click. So, things like that, please send your feedback to that e-mail address.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. I know we're running short on time here. "How can you measure the social impact on Justice40 communities when it comes to the new NEVI grant? What if the NEVI charger is not in – was not installed in a Justice40 community directly but is installed in close proximity to a Justice40 community?"
Margaret Smith: That is a very good question. I can say that there are a lot of people who are trying to figure out the metrics for how Justice40 applies to NEVI and there's been lots of discussion on it. It is a Department of Transportation program, and so the Department of Transportation will be the entity that releases their metrics and methodologies for that. I can say that in the report on using mapping tools to prioritize benefits of EV charging stations to underserved communities we provide some example metrics to consider, and that was partly so states, as they were developing their plans that had to be submitted to – in August, that they would have something to maybe consider incorporating. But there isn't a – there aren't answers to those questions at this point in time.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. And I think what is our last question: How difficult would creating a tribal lands and U.S. territorial map be? It certainly would be very helpful.
Margaret Smith: That exists on the NEVI Justice40 tool. The map allows you to turn layers on and off. There's a layer for tribal lands; there's a layer for U.S. territories, that you could turn everything else off and just have those layers on and then you'd have that.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. And we – do we –
Jim Kuiper: I think part of the question has to do with the metrics that are used. And it's kind of a technical thing because the boundaries of the tribal areas don't correspond to the census boundaries. So, there are GIS techniques where you can intersect those, and you would have to maybe generate an average for the metric over the tribal area. So, that's kind of why those areas don't have the same metrics. They're just – the boundaries don't exactly correspond to the datasets that are being used for metrics.
Patricia Weikersheimer: And tribal lands are DACs by definition, is that correct?
Margaret Smith: Yes, the Department of Energy definition includes tribal lands and U.S. territories.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Okay. That wraps up the questions. I think that brings us back to Joanna.
Joanna Allerhand: Yeah. So, thank you everyone for joining us and thanks to our presenters for sharing all this wonderful information. We will get the slides and the recording posted on the Clean Cities website for you all to be able to reference in the future. So, thank you so much. Have a great rest of your day.
Joann Zhou: Thank you.
Margaret Smith: Thank you.
Joann Zhou: Bye.
Patricia Weikersheimer: Bye bye.