News and Events
Energy & Environment Forum
A Conversation about Equity and Viability Concerns in Energy Law and Policy
March 23, 2023 • 1:00pm
Electric vehicles (EVs) are seldom seen in low-income communities. High up-front costs of EV ownership and the lack of charging infrastructure in proximity to such neighborhoods have fueled inequitable distributions. At the same time, uncertainty in the viability of the EV market hinders infrastructure development. EVs have not reached affordability levels for a mass majority of consumers, and establishing a widely deployed EV charging infrastructure is a significant cost burden, causing potential investors to shy away.
These viability concerns underlie governmental policies and programs designed to spur EV purchases and promote infrastructure investment by utilities, potentially shifting the cost burden to ratepayers, some of whom are the least able to access EVs. Simultaneous consideration and coordination of equity and viability concerns will assist a more just transition to electrified road transportation.
Awareness of these emerging forms of energy injustice is increasing, not just in the EV space, but with other climate change responses and renewable energy campaigns, and more equitable efforts are now being pursued. This presentation will survey legal and policy efforts targeting EVs, climate change, and renewable energy in the United States and will highlight opportunities for improvement of equity and viability considerations.
Dr. Achinthi Vithanage is an originating member of the International Association of Energy Law, a global network of early career energy law professors. Most recently, she was recognized as one of the country’s leading environmental and energy lawyers in LawDragon’s 500 Leading Environmental and Energy Lawyers 2021 and 2022 Guides. She serves on the Secretariat to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Academy of Environmental Law and is a member of the World Commission on Environmental Law. Professor Vithanage was the first Environmental and Energy Law Fellow with an international law background at the George Washington University Law School in Washington D.C.