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Alliance to Buttigieg: Reject Indiana's inequitable electric vehicle plan

A Nissan LEAF charges at a station in Houston, Texas. A grey vehicle sits in a parking lot, connected to an EVGO charing station. Behind the charger, there is a sign for Jack in the Box. In the parking lot, there are several pickup trucks.
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Last month, Indiana released a map of where it hopes to place EV chargers using the money from the federal infrastructure law — with more than half in “disadvantaged communities.”

An alliance demands the federal government reject Indiana’s electric vehicle charging plan due to equity concerns.

It also asked U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to tour places where it said the chargers should be placed — and see what opportunities it could open up for those communities.

Last month, the state released a map of where it hopes to place EV chargers using the money from the federal infrastructure law — with more than half in “disadvantaged communities.”

But the Indiana Alliance for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Economic Opportunities said few of those communities were racially or ethnically diverse.

It’s important they get a seat at the table. Elder Lionel Rush is part of the group and president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance in Indianapolis.

“The highways tore through the historically Black neighborhoods destroying homes and businesses uprooting families and community, poisoning the air that we breathe," he said.

Rush said technology like EVs changes quickly and these communities need to be a part of that future.

“If we don't get in now, we're going to be behind — and we'll never catch up," he said.

Among other things, the alliance wants the state to commit to placing chargers in racially and ethnically diverse communities and at Black-owned businesses.

READ MORE: INDOT drafts plan for electric vehicle charging stations, alliance raises equity concerns

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It also wants INDOT to create an equity advisory board for the EV plan and commit to hiring and training a diverse workforce for the EV projects.

"INDOT's plans need to inject concrete, equity commitments — not considerations — or it needs to be rejected," said Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis).

Love Lee is a student at the University of Notre Dame, co-leads Sunrise Movement South Bend and is a member of Black Lives Matter South Bend.

She said her groups and the alliance have met with local officials in South Bend and intend to participate in a task force to ensure the city uses the EV funding equitably. Lee said it’s been a far more inclusive planning process than the state’s.

“Urgency is needed now because we don't want uneven development where certain segments of the city and state have infrastructure and opportunities while others do not,” she said.

Denise Abdul-Rahman is part of the alliance and is the environmental climate justice chair for the Indiana NAACP. So far, she said INDOT hasn’t responded to any of the alliance's requests.

Contact reporter Rebecca Thiele at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.