Forth National Policy Efforts
By: Jeanette Shaw
With the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Forth’s policy team went into overdrive to bring our unique, hands-on experience to help advise the administration about practical, equity-minded and impactful transportation electrification policies.
Forth has been actively involved in coalitions and associations to promote transportation electrification, fuel cell, and shared mobility services. These organizations include the CHARGE (Helping America Rebuild and Go Electric) Coalition, Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA), Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA), Towards Equitable E-Mobility (TEEM), Oregon Transportation Electrification Working Group, and the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition (RHA). In addition, at the request of Congressman Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon), Forth’s Executive Director, Jeff Allen, testified on a transportation panel regarding the need for consumer education and incentives regarding electric cars, the need for strategic charging infrastructure investment, and equitable transportation electrification investments in communities of color and low to moderate-income communities.
These have informed President Biden’s proposed $2-trillion infrastructure package to invest in America’s transportation system, electric vehicles, public transit, and transit-oriented affordable housing. The proposed legislation puts a focus on addressing racial and transportation inequities and climate change and includes approximately $174-billion for electric vehicle infrastructure and subsidies including point-of-sale rebates for electric vehicle purchases, funding to state governments and private companies for charging stations, and grants to electrify 20 percent of the nation’s school buses. Also included is $100-billion for the nation’s electrical grid and clean energy.
Forth also recommends investing resources to:
Design Effective Transportation Electrification Incentives.
Forth advocates for effective federal programs to accelerate the electrification of both light-duty and medium and heavy-duty vehicles across the country in a way that ensures that historically underserved populations benefit from electric mobility. Light-duty vehicle incentives should include new and used vehicle rebates, “cash for clunkers” programs, and financing to reduce barriers to access for historically underserved consumers. Incentives for heavier-duty vehicles should be designed to accelerate fleet turnover, maximize benefits to impacted communities, be grounded in an understanding of how buyers of these vehicles make purchase decisions, and ensure small independent and BIPOC drivers and businesses are not harmed. Forth led the successful campaign to design and pass an EV rebate in Oregon, which includes a unique double rebate for income-qualifying buyers, which can also be applied to used cars. In addition, Forth will advocate for effective federal and state programs to accelerate e-bikes and e-scooter adoption.
Target Charging Infrastructure Investments for Maximum Impact.
Forth advocates for high-impact, effective, targeted investments in charging infrastructure. It is critically important that these investments go where they will have the most impact in stimulating EV adoption and increasing equitable access; that they use public funds effectively; that they include investments to support charging for heavy-duty vehicles; and that they encourage grid benefits and resiliency. Forth is currently developing policy recommendations and a “charging needs analysis” for the State of Oregon. We are developing tools and best practice guidelines to facilitate charging at apartments and other multi-unit dwellings as part of a USDOE funded project. We are piloting a workplace charging certification program and are advising cities on strategies to place charging in the public right of way and public properties. We have managed site selection and installation of fast chargers and Level-2 chargers in Oregon and Washington.
Increase Support for State and Local Programs.
We see tremendous opportunities to strengthen existing programs like the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ), to increase the flexibility of other funding programs and to integrate smart and electric mobility funding into affordable housing programs, agriculture funding programs, and more. Forth advocates for increased funding to support demonstration and pilot projects, local EV-readiness planning, equity-centered needs assessments, and support for specific use cases such as ports, rural areas, and historically underserved communities.
Drive Greater Consumer Awareness.
Many consumers have little awareness of electric vehicle options. Forth has managed a range of innovative programs to drive awareness and engage with consumers over the past decade, in multiple markets, including programs focused on reaching historically underserved communities. At a minimum, we recommend a well-designed and funded “EV-friendly workplace” program; addressing the challenges of dealerships and lack of knowledge by salespeople; a federally funded national outreach campaign to consumers with focused efforts in key markets; and funding for state and local engagement efforts, from Clean Cities coalitions to state dashboards.
Electrify Shared Mobility.
There are many reasons to focus on electrifying Uber, Lyft, and other shared mobility and delivery services. Despite recent announcements by these companies, achieving this goal – while increasing the earnings of drivers – will take effective and trusted outreach to drivers, affordable and ubiquitous fast-charging plus access to practical, affordable vehicles and financing. Forth has worked for several years, through projects funded by USDOE and Bloomberg Philanthropies, to address these challenges. We use this experience to design and advocate for strong federal engagement that includes a mix of policy changes, incentives, and investments.