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Sparking Progress: A new report on our electric future

The federal government provided billions of dollars to make transportation cleaner and greener. But to reduce emissions, we need to do more than spend money on the same tired solutions. A new report from the Coalition Helping America Rebuild and Go Electric (CHARGE) explains how federal investments can advance equity and clean energy goals.

A King County Metro bus charges at the Transit South Base charging facility. Flickr/Seattle Department of Transportation

To avoid the most harmful impacts of climate change, the time to reduce emissions is now. And when it comes to transportation (the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions), policymakers have an opportunity to make significant progress. After all, two massive infusions of federal cash have provided states with a wealth of resources to advance their emissions goals.

President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative pledges at least 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal clean energy investments to underserved communities. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law and $500 billion Inflation Reduction Act can both support a more equitable, cleaner, healthier, and more affordable transportation future. However, conventional methods of reducing transportation emissions—namely, incentivizing the production and purchase of private electric vehicles—are insufficient to meet our nation’s goals and would likely leave Justice40 communities behind. Find out why investing in electric vehicles alone won’t advance equity.

As a new report from the CHARGE Coalition explains, there’s a better approach—one that will not only reduce emissions but ensure that the benefits of pollution-free transportation will improve the health and economic well-being of a large number of people. Federal policy and investment can help move the needle by prioritizing three key areas.

1. Public transit

Transit is a longstanding, low-emissions travel option that has suffered across the country due to a lack of investment. Increasing public transit investments into operations, e-fleets, reliability, maintenance facilities, and workforce development will also boost the number of trips people take outside of a private vehicle—lowering emissions.

See how investing in transit operations can reduce private vehicle trips and lower emissions.

2. Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Garage access shouldn’t be a prerequisite to electric vehicle access. Decision makers can ensure our emerging charging network is developed to be seamless and efficient, supports all types of mobility, is located strategically, and effectively serves people in multi-unit dwellings as well as stand-alone houses, as well as car-share, rental and business fleets.

Learn more about what smart EV infrastructure could look like.

3. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles

The report also looks at opportunities to spur the conversion of our most polluting vehicles to zero emissions, reducing carbon while sparing the health of all Americans, especially for low-income and communities of color that are disproportionately harmed by air pollution from diesel-powered vehicles.

Click here to read the report.

Case studies throughout the report offer examples of initiatives deserving of federal support and that can serve as national models to meet the needs in the above three areas. The report also includes additional topics to consider in electrifying our transportation system, including the rise of micromobility—e-bikes, scooters, and myriad other battery-powered devices—and the need to make significant investments in our electric grid.


The report recommendations are defined through the Coalition Helping America Rebuild and Go Electric (CHARGE) coalition’s principles, which were developed in partnership with 50 of the most influential clean transportation stakeholder groups in the country. Learn more about CHARGE here.

2 Comments

  1. Reply

    Dave Snyder

    2 days ago

    Love the emphasis on new solutions instead of the “tired, old” ones! And love the #1 goal of improving public transit.

    But… again… as happens too often in climate-focused advocacy… helping people get where they’re going cheaply and quickly by bicycling, walking, scooting, etc., is practically ignored! Why?!?! Ugh.

    Yes, you have a picture of somebody on a bike in priority #3. but “micromobility” is mentioned as a “good to have” not one of the top three priorities. I’m so tired of reports such as these showing an image of bicycling because it’s cool but giving them short shrift as a solution. It’s arguably the fastest, most cost-effective way to reduce GHG in the transportation sector. It’s disappointing that micromobility didn’t make the cut. Please do better.

    In a related point, I do want to commend you for this sentence in the section about charging infrastructure: “We also need to make sure that car chargers aren’t located at the curb in such a way that precludes future bike lanes or bus lanes.” Thank you.

    • Reply

      Abigail Grimminger

      2 days ago

      Thanks for looking over the report! We completely agree that there are many low-emissions ways for people to travel that have nothing to do with electrification (for more on those, check out our Driving Down Emissions report). We also agree that electric bikes, scooters, and other micromobility options are the fastest-growing segment in clean transportation, which is why we are disappointed federal policy has been largely silent on them (as we wrote after the passage of the IRA). We believe the three priority areas above are places where current federal investments can most effectively move the needle for electrification, and while micromobility has not received its due yet from federal decision makers, it must continue to be part of the conversation.

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