I joined SACE as our Electric Transportation Equity Manager at the beginning of October, and I'm beyond excited to help accelerate the transition to equitable electric transportation in the Southeast!Patrick King | October 28, 2021
I am new to the electric transportation space, but my relationship with energy equity and my proximity to the disproportionate impacts air pollution and climate change have on marginalized communities began many years ago. I’m a native of Baton Rouge, LA, which in addition to being prone to frequent weather-related disasters is also within a region of the state known as “Cancer Alley,” the 85-mile long corridor between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is home to more than 140 petrochemical plants. Residents there, the majority of whom are Black and economically disadvantaged, are at a higher risk of cancer from air pollution than 95 percent of other Americans. This particular instance of environmental racism, while unique to Louisiana and very personal for me, is sadly just one of many examples of injustices plaguing communities throughout the Southeast.
My professional work in the environmental sector began a few years ago when I joined Urban Green Lab, a sustainability education-focused nonprofit, in Nashville, TN. During my time there I honed my skills in authentic community engagement and capacity building with diverse audiences. I also began to develop a gnawing urge to contribute more on a systemic level to what I consider the most important calling of the present moment: combatting climate change. With an understanding that transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., when I learned of this chance to join the SACE electric transportation team, I leapt at the opportunity.
Zoning policies and other institutionalized practices have resulted in a disproportionate number of Black, brown, and other marginalized communities living near highways, distribution centers, and industrial sites. Due to this, transportation emissions negatively affect the health and wellbeing of these communities first and worst. Additionally, these same communities are often at higher risk from climate change impacts. As the electric vehicle (EV) market accelerates and becomes more ubiquitous, it’s of the utmost importance to ensure that those who have the most to gain from the benefits of EV technology adoption and ownership have a seat at the table and play a meaningful role in shaping a zero-carbon future.
My job here at SACE is to accelerate the transition to equitable electric transportation by promoting the growth of electric transportation ownership for all, and supporting equitable electric transportation policies and programs. Additionally, I’ll assist in promoting and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in SACE’s workplace culture and practices, external operations, and interactions with stakeholders. I’m excited to start moving the needle and contributing to the great work already being done at SACE, and to advance progress that will benefit people across the Southeast.
Electrify the South is a Southern Alliance for Clean Energy program that leverages research, advocacy, and outreach to promote renewable energy and accelerate the equitable transition to electric transportation throughout the Southeast. Visit ElectrifytheSouth.org to learn more and connect with us.