The Green New Deal: What It Would Mean for Transportation

Autoblog
By Jim Motavalli

The big question: How would we pay for it?

The Green New Deal is long on vision but skimpy on details. It calls for a sweeping overhaul of America’s transportation system and the replacement of fossil fuels with zero-emission energy, but doesn’t say much about what such a system would look like. Or how we could pay for it.

But maybe the vagueness is by design. It’s simply a target we’re going to have to reach, advocates say, given climate change imperatives. The key transportation winners in the legislation, as introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., are “zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing,” “clean, affordable and accessible public transit” and “high-speed rail.” Not much is said about supporting ridesharing, bike lanes, carpooling or telecommuting, all seen as ways to take cars off the road. (In reality, ridesharing may be doing the opposite.)

The bill calls for “overhauling transportation systems in the U.S. to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as technologically feasible.” That last provision is, obviously, subject to debate. What’s feasible isn’t always affordable, or politically viable.

Almost none of this New Deal’s proposals could pass in the current Congress, even in watered-down form, but 2020 could change the political balance. So what would the Green New Deal mean for transportation?

A lengthy summary of the bill posted by supporters (in this case, specifically the Green Party) calls for a “complete phase-out of fossil fuels, fracked [natural] gas and nuclear power,” with a transition to “100 percent clean energy” (presumably a mix of solar and wind) by 2030. It calls for replacing “non-essential individual means of transport with high-quality and modern mass transit.” And it adds that “it will be necessary to electrify everything else, including transport, heating, etc.”

Remarkably, there are very few credible studies that look at how the planet could actually get to a zero-emission energy economy — especially without natural gas or nuclear power. The latter two sources provide baseline energy, meaning they’re always “on.” Wind and solar are both intermittent, which means to keep the lights on we’d need a national grid that can move electricity quickly around the country. And, of course, that doesn’t exist.

One of the few existing plans, cited in the Green New Deal, is from Mark Jacobson, a professor at Stanford, and Mark Delucchi, a research scientist at the University of California, Davis. “Our plan calls for millions of wind turbines, water machines and solar installations,” they said in Scientific American. “The numbers are large, but the scale is not an insurmountable hurdle; society has achieved massive transformations before.”

They’re not kidding about large numbers — their plan imagines 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 utility-scale solar plants, 490,000 tidal turbines, 5,350 geothermal installations and 900 hydroelectric plants. Getting there by 2050, as the plan imagines, would require a united planet with a common goal, and zero NIMBY opposition (such as derailed the Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts).

The World Wildlife Federation agrees that a renewable energy economy is an achievable goal, but over “the next four decades.”

But even these ambitious plans fall afoul of the relentless imperatives of a warming world. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said last year we have about a dozen years to reduce greenhouse emissions and avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. Transportation (accounting for a third of those emissions in the U.S., less globally) is making progress, but nowhere near what the Green New Deal envisions. The 361,307 battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold in the U.S. last year were less than 2 percent of the 17.27 million cars and trucks sold. With more EV models on offer and increased range, global consultancy McKinsey and Co. thinks EVs’ percentage of the total vehicle market could grow to a whopping 14 percent by 2030.

So the Green New Deal imagines a great leap forward, from a slow, voluntary shift to electrified transportation to a swift, mandated one. “We need to act fast and mobilize, and we have no other option but to set these targets if we’re going to avoid climate chaos,” Hana Creger, environmental equity program manager for the Greenlining Institute, told Autoblog. “We know it’s ambitious, but the level of ambition of the Green New Deal for transportation is absolutely on point, given the scale of the problem.”

Creger thinks we can learn from California, which makes up half of U.S. EV adoption and 32 percent of its renewable energy. She adds that the state’s EV subsidies are equitable (a big part of the Green New Deal), providing rebates targeted at low-income earners.

The conservative Heritage Foundation is, not surprisingly, skeptical. “Do you want the federal government to control what kind of car you drive and what kind of energy you buy?” it asks. “Because the end goal of the Green New Deal is to eliminate the use of coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and the internal-combustion engine.”

Heritage writes that these sources currently “provide 83 percent of America’s electricity and 92 percent of the transportation fuel market. So the costs of a green transformation would be astronomical.”

They would indeed, but left unsaid is that the costs — economic and otherwise — of catastrophic climate change would be far greater.

One of the key issues here is choice. Americans have it, and so far they’re choosing SUVs over EVs. And while the nation’s public transit system is expanding rapidly, it’s still a big challenge in a country that’s as spread out as the U.S. (especially when compared to Europe). Creger acknowledges this. “Perhaps in cities we’ll see enhanced public transit, walking and biking, and in rural and suburban areas more of an emphasis on electric vehicles,” she said. So far, though, EVs have been challenged in rural areas because of range issues.

Public transit never pays for itself out of the fare box, and in some places that basic fact has been used to stop projects in their tracks — and is a constant threat to the national rail network, Amtrak. High-speed rail has also been hurt by cost overrun projections and shut down, even in California under the ultra-liberal new governor, Gavin Newsom.

At last count the Green New Deal had 90 co-sponsors in the House, all of them Democrats. As legislation, it doesn’t have much chance of becoming law. As constituted, the bill is a progressive wish list, with provisions on everything from supporting family farming to “repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples” and cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

Ocasio-Cortez and Markey want Americans to dream bigger dreams, to raise their expectations. Most of the auto industry actually is planning for a switch to electric vehicles, though few would think that transition will be completed as early as 2030. Some analysts worry that if the U.S. lags on EV leadership, the automotive center of gravity will shift to other countries.

In reality, what is likely to happen is that electrification will accompany a market-driven shift to ACES — cars and trucks that are autonomous, connected, electric and, of course, shared. In that scenario, Americans won’t actually own cars, and vehicle choice will shift to fleet buyers. If that scenario unfolds, and many believe it will, tailpipes will disappear without a mandate, and consumers will be thrilled with their new mobility.

Affordable public transit for all and a national network of high-speed rail? That might have to wait for a while.

Inside California’s Community Solar Experiment

Greentech Media
By Kevin Stark

Contracts are being written, but big questions remain about how the community solar market will take shape in the state.

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved two sweeping programs in recent years to spur community solar construction in the state, but the market has yet to gain real traction. Solar developers are now scrambling to organize projects as these programs advance and new opportunities crop up.

“There is not a community solar market yet, but we’re about to experiment with it in a real way,” said CPUC Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, in an interview with GTM.

California is a leader in U.S. solar development, but the state has deployed few community solar projects so far, with a little more than 100 megawatts of mostly one-off projects built to date. Community solar has not found fast footing in the state. Today, there are still virtually no up-and-running community solar projects within California’s investor-owned utility territories, which make up the majority of the state.

That’s a problem, as millions of people across California rent their homes or are otherwise unable to install rooftop solar. Community solar provides an access point for these people.

“There are a lot of obstacles to get on the roof to install solar when you don’t own it,” Guzman Aceves said. “At the most basic level, our plan gets to a significant population in California that would never have access. This is a really good thing, in that regard.”

The first program, adopted by the CPUC in January of 2015, is dubbed the Enhanced Community Renewables program. Under that policy, which was created by Senate Bill 43, developers market community solar directly to customers as an electricity product. Customers can buy a share of a local solar project directly from the developer and then receive credit for avoided generation costs from the utility. The program is one slice of the state’s 600-megawatt Green Tariff Shared Renewables portfolio, but there is no specific carve-out for community solar.

At present, just over 7 megawatts’ worth of projects are under construction or seeking approval through the Enhanced Community Renewables program:

  • In Sheep Creek near Victorville located in Southern California, developer Jaton is working on a 3-megawatt solar farm in Southern California Edison’s territory territory. Jaton formed in 2016 and seeks to take advantage of the state’s community solar programs.
  • In Campo, a town along the Mexico border, ForeFront Power is developing a 2.4-megawatt project with San Diego Gas & Electric.
  • In Fresno County in Northern California, ForeFront is working with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on a 1.656-megawatt project.

While the going is rough, ForeFront is emerging as a key developer in California’s fledgling community solar programs. In 2018, PG&E put out a call for community solar proposals, and ForeFront submitted 11 projects that exceed 37 megawatts of power, all of which have the potential to come online in the future. In a public letter dated February 4, 2019, the utility noted that ForeFront’s projects were “selected for award and continued participation.”

One issue with the Enhanced Community Renewables program is that the solar comes at a premium, rather than offering customers savings, because these projects don’t qualify for net metering credits. PG&E started offering community solar at a premium in 2015, and it’s taken years to see any real action.

Disadvantaged communities solar tariff

Last June, the CPUC approved a second program, the Community Solar Green Tariff, that opened a pipeline for another 41 megawatts of community solar. The tariff stems from a provision of the 2013 bill AB 327 — sometimes called the “rate reform bill” — that requires growth of the solar industry in what the state calls “disadvantaged communities.”

The program creates a 20 percent bill reduction for people who live in areas with lots of air pollution and poverty and who want to participate in community solar. The projects must be located within a 5-mile area of their home. Solar developers and utilities operate with traditional power-purchase agreements.

In Southern California, SCE is well positioned to take advantage of the new tariff. Nearly half of the neighborhoods that qualify for this new program are within its territory, according to the utility.

“We found that our existing solar penetration is in this area already,” said Jessica Lim, SCE’s principal manager of product management, customer products and services. “That is where most of the solar projects are coming, from and customers can benefit from the savings in that area.”

SCE estimates that it can service 5,200 customers with the 18 megawatts allotted to the utility under the program.

Community-choice programs

The Enhanced Community Renewables program and the Community Solar Green Tariff program aren’t the only pathways to deploying solar in the Golden State.

Last year, SCE proposed a suite of community oriented solar programs to address some of the other programs’ pitfalls. Customers with Sacramento Municipal Utility District can already participate in a separate community solar program. Local organizations that procure power for residents, the community-choice aggregators (CCAs), are also developing their own initiatives.

Guzman Aceves said the CCAs aren’t burdened by the same regulatory restrictions as utilities. “The CCAs can do something quicker, theoretically, and that’s a good thing,” she said. “They have a lot more flexibility.”

When it comes to the Community Solar Green Tariff, however, CCAs could create a pain point.

SCE’s territory in particular includes many “disadvantaged communities” that qualify for the program, but a lot of these communities overlap with CCA territory, which could create problems if the local groups pursue their own community solar programs. PG&E has less overlap between its qualifying neighborhoods and the CCA service area within its territory, which means that it might be in a position to move more quickly, according to Guzman Aceves.

“One message I have for the CCAs and the utility is to make sure to work together on these types of projects,” Guzman Aceves said. “Do not make it be another five years of pointing fingers at each other, but [rather] see this as an opportunity for collaboration.”

Program constraints

Regulators are currently reviewing proposals under the Community Solar Green Tariff, which is expected to come online in the second quarter of 2019.

Proposal backers believe that building solar within polluted neighborhoods will reduce air pollution, but some developers complained that the program’s constraints are too tight and might limit growth.

Brandon Smithwood, policy director for the Coalition for Community Solar, said: “You’re asking developers to find a place where you have enough customers and where you can interconnect to the distribution grid. There are only so many places on the grid that you can practically plug into. And then this adds the requirement that all of your customers have to be in a small geographic area around the projects.”

He added that the CPUC’s new community solar contracts are a good sign, but they don’t guarantee that anything will be built.

“Whether these programs can work at all is still an open question,” Smithwood said. “Then, I think it’s clear that they’re not scalable. You have very complicated programs that don’t really fit in with the megatrends of the state.”

Instead, Smithwood argues that community solar can be used as a way to expand and experiment with successor programs to net metering. “That’s a way to create a community solar program that’s not these individual programs that have a ton of really complex requirements and restrictions,” he said.

Guzman Aceves expressed concern about introducing a net energy metering (NEM) structure for community solar because of what she called a rise in predatory actions by electricity service providers.

“There is a gaming that can occur with NEM that can’t occur with a fixed tariff,” she said. “It’s not all developers that use that approach, but it is happening with the NEM structure, particularly in low-income communities, monolingual and elderly households, and that’s a real big problem.”

SCE’s suite of community programs

Last September, SCE asked regulators to approve a slate of community-oriented clean energy options. At the time, it acknowledged that the current program for community solar wasn’t working very well.

It crafted an alternative set of programs. Altogether, SCE’s proposal generates 181 megawatts’ worth of new projects, with a 45-megawatt carve-out for low-income participants. The utility estimates the suite of programs could serve more than 82,000 customers.

With one initiative, SCE could aggregate customers for community solar projects itself, rather than solicit a developer or a community-based organization to do that work through contracts.

“Today, with our current program, we don’t really have a direct role in the formation of a community solar project,” Lim said. “We facilitate a solicitation process for the market. With this new program, assuming it is approved, SCE will be right in the middle. We’ll be the connector with customers and with communities.”

“Community solar is an important part of our clean energy future,” Lim said. “For us, it’s still in its infancy.  We just want to grow this program and try to be innovative in how we approach this by emphasizing disadvantaged communities.”

CPUC officials are currently reviewing the proposal, and approval is not guaranteed. In a memo, officials questioned whether SCE could end its existing program without violating regulations.

CCAs and community solar

East Bay Community Energy, an Alameda County-based CCA, is developing a program that the group’s top executive Nick Chaset calls “a version of community solar more tailored to local governments.”

The idea is to pair city loads with renewable generation. If the program can scale, it will be be accessible to all of the group’s customers.

Chaset said that unlike the CPUC programs, there would be no third-party project owner. Instead, the city would contract for the project directly through the CCA.

Customer demand would be the only cap on the program’s growth. Projects could be built locally or located farther away.

“What differentiates this concept from a standard 100 percent renewable energy product is temporal commitment,” Chaset said. “Municipalities commit for a longer period of time, and that’s what gets the project built in the first place.”

“We are a community-owned provider,” he said. “In some ways all our solar is community solar.”

Energy and equity

Grid Alternatives, one of the largest nonprofit solar installers in the U.S., is also moving into community solar in Southern California.

It is working with SCE, the Greenlining Institute, and other policy and advocacy organizations on a pilot initiative called the Clean Energy Access Working Group. The goal is to create community solar projects that are designed, led and owned by local groups.

While still in development, one potential site is in Compton on land owned by Ujima Housing Corporation, a nonprofit group, according to SCE.

Michael Kadish, Grid Alternative’s executive director for the Los Angeles area, said it’s important for community solar projects to provide customers with real financial savings, and the group is exploring additional community solar options. “We’re accustomed to saving people 80 percent on their energy bill,” he said. “That’s the level of benefit we’re looking to provide.”

The group recently hosted a conference on the subject in Los Angeles. The meeting explored successful models from across the country and pathways to improve programs in California.

“Community solar is interesting and holds potential for us, if you understand our mission,” Kadish said. “We care about bringing the benefits of renewable energy to underserved communities where most people are actually renters.”

Community solar holds potential for a lot of stakeholders in California. The challenge has been and will continue to be finding ways to harness that opportunity.

Amid E-Commerce Surge, California Cities Want Relief from Truck Pollution

Energy News Network
By Kevin Stark

Community and clean air advocates are fighting to curb pollution and electrify trucks in a distribution center hub.

The new expectation of next-day delivery is contributing to an old problem for California’s valley communities: smog.

Online and big-box retailers in recent years have erected giant distribution centers in Southern California’s Inland Empire, an area east of Los Angeles that includes Riverside, San Bernardino, Fontana and Moreno Valley. The area is sought after in part because of its proximity to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which service about 40 percent of all trade in the United States.

Amazon reportedly invested $4.7 billion in the Inland Empire between 2012 and 2016, and it’s not alone. Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ikea and Nike all have distribution centers in the region. Many are larger than 500,000 square feet, with soaring ceilings and numerous loading bays, all designed to gain economy of scale and improve operational efficiency. A surge in truck traffic and air pollution has accompanied the buildup.

“One of the issues we’re dealing with in our region is the immense air pollution from the thousands and thousands of diesel trucks” that are coming to the area, said Allen Hernandez, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, one of the groups helping to push back against the logistics industry with lawsuits and demands for better pollution controls and cleaner vehicles.

More than a third — 37 percent — of California’s emissions stem from the transportation sector, according to the state’s air resources board. Cars and trucks are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions California, and — despite the state’s reputation among conservative critics as being run by radical environmentalists — many cities here are plagued by terrible air pollution, some of the worst in the U.S.

Lawsuits to press policy

Clean air advocates have used environmental lawsuits to press developers for project-level air quality mitigations such as bans on older diesel trucks and the building of electric vehicle infrastructure.

Moreno Valley residents are locked in a prolonged legal dispute with the World Logistics Center, a proposed massive new development totaling 40 million square feet of warehouses that the developer says will create 20,000 new jobs. The Moreno Valley City Council approved the project in 2015.

Community groups and environmental advocates, including the local Sierra Club chapter, filed environmental challenges claiming that, among other issues, the development will exceed daily air pollution standards set by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Environmental documents estimate that the center will generate more than 68,000 daily vehicle trips, one-fifth of which would be by heavy trucks.

In response, the developer said that it would mandate only new diesel trucks on site and not use diesel equipment in the warehouses. Additionally, each building will have a minimum of two electric vehicle charging stations, but the environmental groups argued the mitigations were not enough and won a recent legal victory. Settlement discussions are ongoing.

Elsewhere, Hernandez’s group and Earthjustice, an environmental law group based in San Francisco, sued San Bernardino County supervisors and the developer of the Slover Distribution Center, a 334,000-square-foot warehouse located in the rural town of Bloomington.

They argued that the warehouse, which abuts a residential area and is next to a high school, didn’t adequately mitigate for air pollution. Among other measures, the developer agreed to install four electric vehicle charging stations, but Hernandez contends it is not enough and litigation continues.

The pollution is getting so bad in the Inland Empire that officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District in Southern California voted last May to create new emissions rules for warehouses and distribution centers that could limit pollution from the trucks and trains servicing distribution centers — a so-called indirect source of pollution.

The goal is to tackle the issue of pollution in the air by how much it accumulates in an area, rather than on a pollutant-by-pollutant basis. The rulemaking process is controversial. Business leaders are resisting and worry that regulations will hurt the growing market for shipping goods and services.

Hernandez’s group is pressing leaders with the air quality agency to adopt a rule that will enforce new regulations either on the amount of pollution, the facility size, or a requirement on the number of trucks that come in and out. The details are under negotiation.

The community group’s argument is that the only sustainable solution is the electrification of trucks. Andrea Vidaurre, a policy analyst for the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, said: “We need an indirect source rule, and we also need caps, a facility-based measure that tells the warehouses this is as much as your facility is allowed to pollute and every year that will get smaller and smaller to incentivize electrification and the infrastructure to support electric vehicles.”

State budget concerns

In 2014, California passed SB 1275, a bill that mandated the state put a million electric vehicles on the road in the span of a decade. The so-called “Charge Ahead” legislation was endorsed by a coalition of environmental groups. State investment in electric semitrucks was a key component of the bill.

The bill’s language outlined the goal of increasing access to “disadvantaged, low-income, and moderate-income communities” to electric vehicles and to “increase the placement of those vehicles in those communities with those consumers in order to enhance the air quality.”

Environmental groups have applauded the state’s effort generally, but they have raised concerns about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal, which slashes funding to these programs by millions of dollars.

The latest budget proposal would infuse the California Air Resources Board with $132 million for low-carbon trucks, buses, and off-road freight equipment, a reduction of $48 million. Money for transportation equity projects and fleet modernization programs is set to be $50 million, half of what it was in the last budget.

“We’ve done a lot in terms of generating investments around this topic,” said Joel Espino, environmental equity legal counsel for the Greenlining Institute. “But we can’t take our foot off the electric pedal, especially in the poorest and most polluted parts of our state. And unfortunately, the governor’s budget does just that. It cuts millions in funding to programs that will create the most benefit and in vulnerable communities.”

The institute is an Oakland-based racial and economic justice nonprofit and research organization that works across the state of California to push electric vehicle policy as an investment tool for social justice.

“When you look at smog … particularly from the heavy-duty sector, we know that it discriminates,” Espino said. “We know that low-income communities of color are hit hardest by toxic emissions because of a long history of discriminatory land use and transportation policies that really saddle those communities with clogged highways and dirty ports and warehouses.”

Leaders with California’s finance department said that the reduction in funds was not a policy decision but is due to fluctuations in money from California’s cap-and-trade auctions. They are reviewing the budget and it could be amended in the next draft, which is expected in May.

Low-emission zones

California leaders are also exploring the development of bans on old diesel trucks in certain areas hardest hit by pollution.

Nancy Skinner, a Democratic state senator from the Bay Area, proposed a law last week intended to phase out the use of diesel trucks in California. It directs the California Air Resources Board to come up with a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from trucks 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Skinner tweeted:

“Proud today to announce SB 44, also known as ‘Ditching Dirty Diesel.’ It’s designed to phase out the use of polluting, diesel-fueled medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses in California and to speed up the transition to cleaner technologies.”

Older diesel vehicles are banned in some German cities, including Leipzig, where one study found widespread benefits. Soot particles, with cancer-causing hydrocarbons, decreased by 60 percent, and ultrafine particles, which can penetrate deep into the lungs, decreased by around 70 percent, according to researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research.

In 2017, the Air Resources Board outlined a set of policy recommendations designed to help the state reach its emissions reduction targets. At the time, the state’s goal was a 40 percent emissions reduction across the board by 2030. Last year, California leaders mandated that 100 percent of its energy be derived from clean sources by 2045.

One of its recommendations: the creation of pricing policies to support the robust development of low-emission heavy-duty trucks. The state could ban trucks that spew large amounts of diesel exhaust in some areas, or at least require that heavy polluters pay significant tolls. Analysts with the Air Resources Board are expected to release policy proposals for what are sometimes called low-emission or no-emission vehicle zones sometime in 2019.

In Oakland and Elsewhere, Health Care Is Investing in Affordable Housing

Marketplace
By 

When an apartment building sells in gentrifying parts of Oakland, California, tenants often brace themselves for the worst. Rent hikes, disruptive renovations and evictions can follow. But when one building recently changed hands, city officials and housing activists celebrated.

Kensington Gardens, a 41-unit building in the working-class, immigrant neighborhood of San Antonio, was sold last November. “I was feeling somebody was going to get it and they were going to raise the rent,” said Ameria Lipscomb, who lives in a first-floor studio in Kensington. Tenants there generally pay below-market rents.

When the building changed hands, Lipscomb expected a rent hike and for many of her neighbors — retirees on fixed incomes, janitors, childcare workers, a couple of families with children— to be pushed out. But neither outcome came to pass. Why? The new owner is the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit affordable housing developer.

“I am so happy that they bought this building. I don’t know what I would have done if the rent went up,” Lipscomb said. Facing sky-high real estate prices, EBALDC’s current strategy is, rather than building affordable units, to buy them and hold rents steady. The idea is to keep people from getting displaced.

“You just cannot build your way out of this crisis,” said Charise Fong, the nonprofit’s chief operating officer. The challenge, however, is finding enough capital to buy in Oakland’s overheated housing market. “You’re running against private investors with all-cash and they often will beat you out,” Fong said.

EBALDC got a low-interest loan of $5.2 million from Kaiser Permanente, the health care company with headquarters in downtown Oakland, to acquire Lipscomb’s building. Kaiser’s chief executive, Bernard Tyson, announced the loan at a city hall press conference in January. It was about half the money needed to buy Ameria Lipscomb’s building.

Kaiser also promised to partner with local social service agencies to provide health care and housing for 500 homeless people in Oakland, though it didn’t give details on exactly how it plans to provide that care. Yesterday, Kaiser announced plans to spend $3 million in 15 communities nationwide to combat chronic homelessness.

What’s in this for Kaiser? Sure, it’s good public relations. But according to Robert Friant of the Corporation for Supportive Housing, health care companies are recognizing that for people to be healthy, they need homes. “Not only does the health of the patient improve, the outcomes are better, but we all benefit because the cost of health care goes down,” Friant said.

Kaiser is investing $200 million in low-interest loans for affordable housing nationwide. This may be part of a growing national trend of health maintenance organizations investing in housing to improve community health. In Phoenix, United Healthcare lent money to a community development corporation, Chicanos Por La Causa, to purchase apartment complexes for Medicaid recipients. In Chicago, the University of Illinois Hospital helps to find permanent housing for homeless people who regularly present at its emergency department.

In order to maintain their tax status with the IRS, non-profit hospitals are required by law to give back to the communities they serve. Traditionally, this takes the form of charity care, according to Anthony Galace of the Greenlining Institute, a policy group that promotes economic justice.

But with more people covered by the Affordable Care Act, nonprofit hospitals are fulfilling their community benefit requirements by getting into housing development, clinic-building and workforce training. Housing individual homeless people and supporting social services can count toward IRS requirements, but loans do not, Galace said.

Oakland estimates that by between 2020 and 2024, to meet the growing demand for housing, the city will need to build 17,000 additional housing units, and protect 17,000 existing units from rent hikes and evictions.

For Ameria Lipscomb, there’s a clear connection between health and home. She’s a cancer survivor. And when she got sick, she lost her job as a cook and found herself on the street. She’s still not working, and her rent is subsidized.

“I love my honeycomb hideout,” she said, as she proudly gave a tour of her studio. “I come into my apartment and I breathe a sigh of relief because I lived one more day, and I have a roof over my head one more day.”

Grist 50: Alvaro Sanchez

No smartphone? No problem. He has a better idea for transit.

Grist

From autonomous vehicles to electric bikeshares: The future of transport is coming at us fast.

Urban planner Alvaro Sanchez is ensuring that this future doesn’t leave low-income people behind.

New scooter-rental and ride-hailing services require a credit card and a smartphone, putting them out of reach for some. So Sanchez and his team created a “mobility-equity framework” for cities developing new transport plans that takes into account local needs and priorities. In San Francisco, for example, they encouraged bikeshare and scooter companies to invest in mass-transit infrastructure and to accept payment methods like smart cards that can be purchased at a drugstore.

In part because of his experience as a first-generation immigrant, Sanchez believes that economic and environmental justice go hand in hand: “We’re addressing poverty and pollution at the same time.”

Rep. Barbara Lee, Boots Riley Headline Greenlining Economic Summit Apr. 26

26th Annual Event Marks Official Farewell for Longtime Greenlining Institute President Orson Aguilar  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit, “Reclaiming Our Time,” will feature a stellar lineup, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, acclaimed rapper, activist, producer, screenwriter and film director Boots Riley, She the People founder Aimee Alison, and many others exploring how to move America toward true justice and equity.

Each year Greenlining brings together powerful voices for change—grassroots community leaders, nationally known advocates, artists, elected officials and more—for a unique event that focuses like a laser on how to build a more equitable, just society. More than a conference, it’s a one-of-a-kind event where innovation, art and activism align. With a theme inspired by Rep. Maxine Waters’ iconic 2017 “reclaiming my time” moment, this year’s Economic Summit will highlight the leaders — especially here in California — who refuse to stay silent in the face of injustice.

Founded in 1993, The Greenlining Institute envisions a nation where communities of color thrive and race is never a barrier to economic opportunity. See Greenlining’s Economic Summit web page for detailed information on the day’s program.

Last year’s Summit sold out, and this year’s is expected to as well. Journalists wishing to attend are asked to RSVP to Bruce Mirken at brucem@greenlining.org.

WHAT: The Greenlining Institute’s 26th annual Economic Summit

WHO: Speakers and awardees include rapper/filmmaker Boots Riley, Rep. Barbara Lee, Dream Corps President Vien Truong, She the People founder Aimee Alison and more.

WHEN: Friday, April 26, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (registration opens at 8)

WHERE: Oakland Marriott, Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland, California, 94607

###

THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
greenlining.org

@Greenlining

How Self-Driving Cars Could Harm Marginalized Communities

EcoWatch
By Hana Creger

Everyone’s talking about self-driving, autonomous vehicles these days. Late last year General Motors announced that it will shut down production of several conventional car lines, partly to pour resources into its self-driving car unit, and GM is just one of many companies ramping up such efforts, alongside Google, Tesla, Uber and a slew of others. But what kind of transportation future will this autonomous vehicle revolution bring? And who will it benefit? In a country with an increasing divide between rich and poor, what will this whiz-bang technology mean for marginalized groups such as the poor, people of color, the elderly and those with disabilities?

Some observers have imagined a sort of transportation heaven—no more space wasted on parking, less smog, easier commutes and cleaner air as the autonomous fleet electrifies. More realistically, other writers have argued we face a heaven or hell choice, with many possible downsides. While the spotlight has been fixated on the shiny new technology itself, what has been largely hidden in the shadows is how self-driving vehicles will impact our most marginalized people. Depending on how self-driving cars are deployed, we could see a growing mobility divide between haves and have-nots—an alarming prospect in places where soaring housing prices are already pushing low- and moderate-income residents farther away from their jobs and into long, punishing commutes. But this mobility divide has enormous implications beyond just commute times.

Access to mobility is the key that unlocks economic opportunity, education, health care and a better quality of life for Americans, so we should all be concerned. A Harvard study found that a person’s commute time is the single greatest factor in their ability to pull themselves out of poverty and up the economic ladder. And for low-income households, a chronic lack of affordable and reliable transportation options remains an insurmountable barrier to improving their lives.

Our car-centric culture and infrastructure contribute to economic inequality. While survey data have varied over the years, available figures consistently show that lower-income Americans spend a higher percentage of their income on transportation than the wealthy do. Those who can’t afford their own vehicles struggle to get around on underfunded public transit or unsafe sidewalks and bike lanes. It’s a strong possibility that the rise of driverless vehicles will only widen these disparities: Those with lots of money will lounge in the comfort of their personal self-driving cars while everyone else is stuck in increasing gridlock or on deteriorating public transit. If we make it too easy for people to own self-driving cars, this will only further entrench everyone in a transportation hell of bumper-to-bumper traffic. And while congestion is an irritating inconvenience to all of us, marginalized people will be hurt the most by deteriorating public transit, a loss of driving jobs and a transportation system that prioritizes cars over people. We need to get this right.

At The Greenlining Institute, we’ve just done the first analysis to look in detail at the social equity implications of the coming transportation revolution, especially for those who are too often ignored in transportation planning, like people of color, low-income folks and residents of rural communities. The best answer, we found, lies in what are sometimes called FAVES: fleets of autonomous vehicles that are electric and shared. FAVES lets us connect self-driving technology to the two other big changes now revolutionizing transportation: electrification and the proliferation of shared-mobility services, including Uber and Lyft, as well as many alternatives.

FAVES, deployed correctly and in tandem with increased walking, biking and public transit, can be the “magic bullet” that improves mobility for people at all income levels, cuts pollution and greenhouse gases, and helps make cities more livable. This isn’t some futuristic fantasy; FAVES are already here. A multitude of companies are operational, such as Transdev, which has transported 3.5 million people in their electric self-driving shuttles.

But even FAVES won’t have these positive social equity and environmental effects if we leave essential decisions to the marketplace. Left alone, companies will do just what you’d expect: cater to customers with disposable income and ignore the broader implications for communities and for marginalized folks. We’ve already seen glimpses of what a “hell” future might entail, with evidence suggesting that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft have cut into transit ridership and increased traffic congestion in some urban areas. Without oversight, what would prevent transportation companies from ditching their drivers for robots to double their profits? We can’t allow the private sector to dictate the terms of this transportation revolution. We have to demand that self-driving vehicle technology fits into a vision of a fair transportation system that reduces pollution and contributions to climate change, and doesn’t just leave those with driving jobs in the dust.

For the coming transportation revolution to truly benefit all, we’ll need strong regulations to, among other things:

  • Discourage personally owned autonomous vehicles and encourage FAVES fleets. We can do this with equitable “road pricing” that waives fees for low-income people. The “heaven” scenario of cleaner air, less space wasted on parking, and reduced traffic simply can’t happen without FAVES.
  • Ensure affordability for people at all income levels, and guarantee availability of autonomous ridesharing services in low-income communities and other places the market might neglect, like rural areas—with fleets that are right-sized to meet local needs.
  • Guarantee equitable access to FAVES for those with disabilities, people who lack a smartphone or high-speed internet access, or who do not speak English.
  • Ensure a just transition and retraining programs for the millions whose jobs will eventually be eliminated by automation, such as bus and truck drivers, and guarantee fair labor standards for the new jobs created in this emerging industry.
  • Protect, enhance and prioritize the healthiest and most environmentally friendly transportation options, such as biking and walking.

We must demand that government at all levels increase investments in walking, biking and public transit infrastructure. Building more car-oriented infrastructure has never been the solution to our congested, polluted and unjust transportation system. Self-driving cars are only the latest distraction from what real innovation would look like in American transportation. A real transportation revolution would transform our cities into clean, vibrant places that are designed for people to live, work, and thrive—not de facto parking lots for their cars.

We have a unique opportunity to create a transportation system that prioritizes moving people over cars. If we get it right, the coming transportation revolution can be a vehicle to help fix transportation injustices while contributing to better mobility, more livable communities and greater economic prosperity for all.

Hana Creger is Environmental Equity Program Manager at The Greenlining Institute. She is lead author of the 2019 report “Autonomous Vehicle Heaven or Hell? Creating a Transportation Revolution that Benefits All.”

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Electric Car Programs Need to Remember the Needy

techwire
By Skip Descant

Electric vehicle car-shares, charging ports and other pieces of the green mobility future may go unused in many communities if the projects fail to understand local needs or the communities the projects hope to serve.

“I think it’s important that this is just not about, ‘Let’s put some electric vehicles where they’re going to improve the air quality for folks who have been most impacted by bad air,’” said Jeff Allen, executive director of Forth, a nonprofit trade association and advocate for electric mobility based in Portland, Ore.

“That’s part of the equation,” said Allen, speaking during a Feb. 12 webinar hosted by Forth. “But it’s also about, ‘How are we going to use these technologies to actually improve mobility options for people, and how are we actually going to use this growing industry to create job opportunities and economic opportunities for folks?’”

“Equity” is a frequent rallying cry by advocates of transit, micro-mobility programs like bike or scooter shares, as well as promoters of smart city projects. The point, said Joel Espino, environmental equity legal counsel for The Greenlining Institute in Oakland, is to devise programs that “grow justice and fairness” in cities.

“So sometimes that means making sure that the neediest and most vulnerable people in society who are facing systemic disadvantages … have the resources to catch up,” said Espino, speaking during the webinar. “So that’s really what we’re trying to do with these programs.”

A number of smart mobility programs in cities across the country have taken on equity in various forms. When San Francisco granted operation permits to Scoot and Skip to introduce electric scooters, the city’s transit officials made that decision, in part, based on the companies’ commitment to serving low-income residents.

The Charge Ahead California Initiative — passed by the California Legislature in 2014 — helped to kickstart the EV equity ecosystem in California, said Espino.

Those efforts have spurred more than 17 projects at various stages of development, attracting some $280 million of investment allocated from the state’s cap-and-trade program. Since 2015 the state has secured $540 million, in part from the Electrify America program, which has been invested in the charging infrastructure in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

“A lot has been happening since 2014,” said Espino.

An electric car-sharing program in affordable housing areas in the Bay Area received $2.25 million in funding and is set to launch later this year. Part of the project is a more thorough needs assessment to see what else is needed to improve the community’s mobility. These could include bike-share memberships, transit passes and more.

And then there’s the so-called “scrap and replace” program in Los Angeles and California’s Central Valley, which provides a voucher of up to $9,500 to help low-income drivers purchase a new or used EV. The program has received $112 million from the cap-and-trade program, with $85 million awarded.

“That’s been a really successful program. And the hope is that we’re expanding that program to the Bay Area region later this spring and also to the Sacramento region later this year,” said Espino.

In the Bay Area, participants will be able to scrap their car in exchange for vouchers valued at up to $7,500 which can be used toward transit passes or other mobility options. Other projects like a $10-a-day car-share program in Portland, Ore., which used donated electric-powered Honda Fits, taught organizers that it was a good idea to put child car seats in the vehicles.

A Look at the Green New Deal’s Clean Transportation Goals and How to Achieve Them

Greentech Media
By Emma Foerhinger Merchant

Though scant on details of what a transportation overhaul might look like, the Green New Deal — really a framework designed to generate more specific policy proposals — has already caused a partisan stir around what a remade and more just transit system might look like.

The resolution released last week from Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey is, at its core, an outline to transition toward an environmentally friendly and equitable economy. Transportation makes up just one part. Politics are stacked against the deal, and it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-led Senate. But experts in the clean transportation space say it could serve as a roadmap to spur conversation and help crystallize ideas for the future transportation system.

The resolution doesn’t explicitly include transportation goals in its call for a “10-year mobilization,” but it does call for an overhaul of the transportation system and the elimination of all its pollution and greenhouse gas emissions “as much as is technologically feasible.” According to the resolution, that should happen in part through investments in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing, public transportation and high-speed rail.

Like the other sectors the resolution addresses, transportation policies must also work to right systemic injustices. A FAQ distributed at the same time as the resolution — which is not a part of the official document — also named a goal to replace every internal combustion vehicle, put charging infrastructure “everywhere,” and create alternatives to air travel (a point that’s caused alarm among the GOP and shrugs from others).

The document, while broad, is also very ambitious. Deployment of electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, plus the decarbonization of transportation sectors like aviation and shipping, are far from reaching the levels set forth in the Green New Deal’s goals.

But experts say there are policies that can get us closer to the goals through a combination of community input, technological innovation, aggressive targets, and transparency. How quickly that can happen, however, remains unclear.

“We’re in a space right now where we’re seeing political headwinds from many different directions. But one thing that will be necessary and critical throughout is to make sure we have the foundation that can allow us to achieve these goals,” said Natasha Vidangos, vice president of research and analysis at the Alliance to Save Energy. “There are many, many ways that we could get to the level of ambition articulated in the Green New Deal document.”

A policy wish list

As Vidangos noted, there is a vast array of available options. But Hana Creger, environmental equity program manager at the Greenlining Institute, says the broad scope of the resolution is a boon rather than a burden.

“While to some folks the Green New Deal’s transportation vision seems too vague, I believe that’s really the intent,” said Creger. “There’s never going to be a one-size-fits-all solution across the board. […] The ultimate decision on how to get there should be informed by the needs of individual communities.”

In outlining the priorities that would help the country achieve the Green New Deal’s goals, experts did note a number of common policies and regulations. The top-level goals: reducing emissions, opening more transit options and electrifying as many vehicles as possible as quickly as possible, in ways that benefit all, rather than prioritizing a few.

The electrification goal applies to passenger vehicles but also heavy-duty freight, buses and off-road vehicles. Getting there requires massive rollout of charging infrastructure that can support more EVs, part of what Vidangos calls a “clean chicken-and-egg arrangement,” because it’s difficult to encourage consumers to buy more EVs if they don’t have a way to charge them.

Creger highlights the need to divert significant funds to communities that lack transportation access. Even if mandates come from the federal level, Creger said laws should prioritize local involvement to choose between clean transportation options such as biking, efficient transit, walking and electric vehicles that are most suited to the community.

Experts also say that rather than rolling back corporate average fuel economy standards, which the Trump administration moved to do last year, federal policymakers should strengthen them. The same goes for federal tax credits for electric vehicles, which now sit at $7,500 for the first 200,000 cars a manufacturer sells. Tesla and General Motors have already hit that 200,000 cap, triggering a stepdown in the incentives attached to a purchase of their vehicles.

“We’re not at a point where, from a public policy perspective, we can move away from consumer incentives to support the purchase of electric vehicles,” said Drew Kodjak, executive director at the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Kodjak said the situation also requires mass education of consumers.

Right now, electric vehicles represent between 1 and 2 percent of U.S. auto sales. And even as their market share has taken off, consumers have evinced an appetite to drive more miles and purchase less-efficient SUVs. Shifting that behavior will require not only more efficient single-passenger vehicles, but also a wider array of options.

“The iron law of transportation infrastructure is: If you build it, they will come,” said Hal Harvey, CEO at Energy Innovation. “So, if you build more freeway miles, you get more cars. If you build more bike paths, you get more bikes.”

Prioritizing transportation equity

Prioritizing equitable mobility options, Greenlining’s Creger explains, is essential for any Green New Deal transportation policy. Historically, road construction and pollution have impacted marginalized communities more than wealthier and whiter ones, cutting them off from economic opportunities while harming health.

A 2006 report from the Brookings Institution showed that metropolitan planning organizations, the decision-making bodies for large sums of transportation funds, have also had a disproportionate number of white members compared to the metropolitan areas they represent.

Even now, as detailed by a March 2018 Greenlining report, “low-income communities and communities of color suffer the most from transportation-related pollution, high transportation costs, and a lack of access to safe, reliable transportation options.” Newer technologies like electric vehicles and ridesharing systems are also more accessible to affluent people, while autonomous vehicles may cause job losses that impact some communities more than others. And research has shown that access to cars is associated with low-income people finding jobs and moving into neighborhoods where they have more access to resources like better schools.

“There’s a lot of inequity in the current system and lots of situations where as we transition and transform transportation, we need to ensure that we don’t make the system even more inequitable,” said Michelle Robinson, director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s a critical issue that should be on par with the top priorities of reducing emissions and reducing oil consumption in transportation.”

The Greenlining report, of which Creger is the lead author, cautions that without community consultation, planners could embed similar issues into future policies.

Greenlining lays out a three-step mobility equity framework that identifies a community’s needs, weighs the pros and cons of certain transportation decisions and ultimately leaves decision-making with the community. It aims to foreground community engagement to avoid the pitfalls of transit planning that leaves out the voices of what the Green New Deal calls “frontline and vulnerable communities,” such as indigenous communities and rural areas.

“We want to make sure that in creating these new transportation options under the Green New Deal, that we’re prioritizing those mobility options that are most equitable and accessible,” said Creger.

Public and private

In unveiling the resolution, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said the Green New Deal would assist in “building solutions in places where the private sector will not.”

And though the document focuses on public policy, advocates say it will require a great deal of cooperation from corporations and likely significant investment from the private sector.

“You can’t do this with the public sector alone,” said Energy Innovation’s Harvey. “Ninety-plus percent of all energy decisions are made privately.”

The clean transportation industry would have to grow significantly to help meet the goals. In 2030, energy research and consulting group Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecasts that 16 percent of vehicles will be electric, including plug-in hybrids, in its base case. Producing all those batteries would require more than three Tesla Gigafactories. To get to 100 percent EV sales would require more than 20 Tesla Gigafactories, according to Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage at WoodMac.

“Neither of those numbers are insurmountable, but clearly will require massive amounts of investments from the industry,” said Manghani, who added that state policy struggles — like California’s issues with high-speed rail — expose the difficulties in transitioning the transportation sector.

“I’m not necessarily presenting a pessimistic view, but rather pitching for a massive overhaul in the current state of infrastructure investments,” he said.

So far, utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric, along with startups like ChargePoint and Greenlots, have led initiatives to deploy more charging infrastructure. Companies such as electric bus maker Proterra have pushed electric vehicles into more segments, helped along by commitments like California’s to purchase only carbon-free bus buses by 2029. And corporations with big fleets, such as Walmart and UPS, are working to electrify, but cite issues like charging infrastructure as big barriers.

“If you think we’re going to substitute or replace the private sector’s control of the economy, we’re deluding ourselves,” said Harvey. “It’s a matter of setting public standards that are requirements.”

Kodjak at the International Council on Clean Transportation says the scope of the deal necessitates a “big, broad, bold partnership” that includes government agencies, environmental and labor groups, as well as corporate interests. That type of coalition has the best chance of crafting policies that align with the resolution’s call for just and environmentally-friendly jobs while transforming transportation.

Vidangos at the Alliance to Save Energy pointed to the collaboration between California, the auto industry, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration on auto-emissions standards as an example of how parties can work to find solutions amenable to all. “We need to see more of that kind of dialogue,” she said.

In September, the Alliance to Save Energy helped launch a group aiming to cut energy use in transportation by 50 percent by 2050. Leaders of the group include the mayor of Fort Worth, Texas and representatives from Audi and National Grid. But even achieving the 50 percent reduction goal set out by that group “requires us to basically fire on every cylinder,” said Vidangos. And, she added, “the ambition in [the Green New Deal] takes it a step further.”

Seizing the momentum

While the document continues to face serious political challenges — Sen. Mitch McConnell this week said he would put forth a vote in the Senate, where the resolution is expected to fail — experts say that doesn’t mean its proposals shouldn’t be seriously considered.

“There’s no question this is the most ambitious [climate] policy that has been advanced in the United States both in terms of the timeline and in terms of its scope,” said Dan Lashof, U.S. director at the World Resources Institute. “I’m not ready to say it’s feasible or to dismiss it as impossible at this point.”

What’s more important, experts said, is seizing the momentum the document has created to start a conversation and craft serious legislation.

“We’re not out of the starting gate yet, much less thinking about the finish line,” said Harvey at Energy Innovation. “We cannot do this by saying, ‘Let’s cross our fingers and hope by then we get it all done.’ Start now — and start with serious projects.”

California Must Address a Statewide Latino Physician Shortage

California Health Report

Despite California’s leadership in expanding health coverage to a record number of Californians, we have a crisis that hardly anyone is addressing: Our state still fails to provide the quality—and quantity—of care needed by our largest ethnic group.

According to research from the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, Latinos represent over 40 percent of California’s population but make up less than 12 percent of graduating physicians from the state’s medical schools. At the current rate, it will take 500 years to reach a point where the number of Latino physicians is proportional to the number of Latino patients.

On January 15, The Greenlining Institute, the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, and the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative hosted a policy briefing to discuss solutions to address California’s Latino physician crisis. This discussion came hours after the California Future Health Workforce Commission released its formal recommendations to modernize the state’s health workforce delivery system.

Despite an extensive analysis, the commission’s report did not adequately highlight the gravity or scale of our Latino physician crisis. To put this into context, there are approximately 405 non-Hispanic white physicians for every 100,000 non-Hispanic white patients, but only 46 Latino physicians for every 100,000 Latino patients.

It’s no coincidence that communities of color—who are underrepresented in almost all health professions—are disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. According to the federal Office of Minority Health, Latinos suffer from heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases at much higher rates than whites. Furthermore, they are less likely to have health insurance and are twice as likely to live at or below the poverty level.

This health vulnerability means Latinos urgently need access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

Increasing the number of Latino physicians across the state will benefit all Californians. Having diverse physicians who are culturally and linguistically competent improves the quality of health care for everyone.

How can we address this crisis? For starters, the Latino Policy & Politics Initiative recently released a series of landmark policy briefs outlining the various challenges Californians face in accessing health care and the reforms needed to address the lack of Latino physicians. We need to increase medical school admissions for Latino students and Spanish speakers, incentivize Latino medical school graduates who are trained out-of-state to practice in California, certify more physicians trained outside of the United States to practice in California, and increase the number of California residency slots. One key proposal urges state legislators to appropriate at least $100 million to expand residency slots. In addition, medical schools must ensure their admissions programs robustly recruit Latino students.

So far, Gov. Gavin Newsom has followed through on his promises to make health care a priority. He released a budget expanding health coverage to undocumented young adults up to the age of 26, appointed California’s first surgeon general, and threw his support behind a flurry of proposals aimed at increasing affordability, access and quality of care across the state—all in his first week in office. This bodes well for California’s future, but it’s not sufficient to address the health needs of California’s culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

If the state continues to turn a blind eye toward the Latino physician crisis, we risk perpetuating or worsening health disparities that harm the Latino population and other disenfranchised communities. Action on this issue requires policymakers, educational institutions and health employers to prioritize racial equity and move boldly to address our critical shortage of Latino physicians.

Sonja Diaz is the executive director of the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative. Jeffrey Reynoso is the executive director of the Latino Coalition for a Healthy California. Anthony Galace is the director of health equity at The Greenlining Institute.