Utah Clean Cities Fuels National Discussion on Clean Transportation

By Tammie Bostick-Cooper, Guest Blogger, Utah Clean Cities

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

The Energy Independence Summit was an opportunity for Utha Clean Cities to showcase Utah's success with alternative-fuel vehicles.

Each year, the Energy Independence Summit hosts various Clean Cities organizations and their stakeholders for a week of congressional networking and education. Utah Clean Cities is a familiar presence at this national event and has traditionally received a warm welcome of support from Utah’s six congressional offices and policy leaders in Washington. This year’s visit proved to be one of the most positive to date.

Alternative Fuels Offer Transportation Solutions

Transportation is one of the most important and complex issues facing our world. We simply have to move away from traditional fossil-fuel burning transportation models. If the science around the effects of burning fossil fuels isn’t enough to convince people, then perhaps a look at $150 billion the U.S. sends to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will help. And that sum doesn’t include the money we send to other countries for their oil.

The Energy Independence Summit urged the Senate Finance Committee to include transportation energy as a priority and asked it to extend critical tax incentives for emerging clean transportation. A long-term extension of these important incentives will stabilize growth-orientated tax strategies for clean transportation, decrease our reliance of imported oil, and create American jobs in clean transportation. Utah’s congressional representatives expressed unanimous support for this proposal.

Utah’s alternative-fuel fleets — with their proven, business-model analysis to back up their success — stand as an example for those considering a shift from imported oil to stateside fuel options. The state’s current alternative-fuel portfolio includes natural gas, propane autogas, bio-fuels and electric, all of which are increasingly generated by renewable and cleaner sources. And as we clean up our electric infrastructure, our electric vehicles become exponentially cleaner and will fit the needs of almost every commuter along the Wasatch Front.

For example, lithium-ion batteries are expected to grow from a $3.2 billion to a $24.1 billion global market share and create new technological jobs along with that growth. There are compressed natural gas (CNG) engines that can boast zero emissions at the tail pipe when fueled by renewable CNG — which is exciting news on the heavy-duty side, as they stand to replace large diesel vehicles on a wide scale. American businesses have embraced and want to continue to use our abundance of natural gas. The U.S. is the largest producer of this fuel in the world, and CNG is one of Utah’s most abundant resources.

Utah Leads the Way with Alternative Fuels

It’s exciting to tell Congress about Utah’s enthusiastic adoption of alternative-fueled vehicles. One can’t help but feel proud of Utah! We are incredibly innovative and energy- independent-minded, and our state has led the way with knowledgeable transportation choices. Our capital city, for example, is one of the most progressive transportation frontrunners in the nation. Salt Lake City is already moving smart technology out in to the streets with CNG refuse haulers and hybrid-fleet cars. All-electric parking-enforcement fleets and new EV chargers for public charging are coming soon.

Tammie Bostick Cooper and a congressional intern from Utah
The best part of being DC was meeting young congressional interns like Grace who hail from Utah

With so many compelling success stories, it’s hard to know where to start! Here are a few Utah companies, cities, and universities that have switched to alternative-fuel vehicles and are glad they did:

  • Geneva Rock’s new fleet of CNG cement mixers are 90 percent cleaner than their diesel predecessors.
  • Diamond Rental uses every alternative-fuel option they can with great success.
  • Park City launched six new all-electric Proterra buses during Sundance.
  • Snowbird is exploring the use of alternative fuels and actively embracing ride-reduction options.
  • Utah State University’s SELECT program is undertaking some of the most advanced research on electric transportation in the world.
  • The University of Utah is heavily engaged in extensive research on air quality and is leading the state though its adoption of campus-wide alternative-fueled transportation with EV WAVE and CNG bus routes, EV charging, and congestion mitigation through public transportation.
  • Smaller companies like Canyon Transport see huge returns on their propane shuttles, and they get the job done in heavy-weather conditions when you wouldn’t want to rely on Uber.

Utah Delegation Supports Energy Independence

It was easy to lead the conversation in D.C. about Utah’s air-quality future, including the specter of too many red-air days and people walking around in masks like they lived in Beijing, China. Regardless of what visitors may think of our smoggy air during the winter tourism season, the more important question is, “What about those of us who work, live and raise our families here?” During my visit, every congressional office expressed their support for finding an answer to that question. The Beehive State wants local choices, local fuels and local action for clean air strategies. The road ahead beckons for the widespread and aggressive adoption of alternative vehicles.

Hands were shaken and congressional leaders asked to be more fully involved with these advanced transportation initiatives. They were undeniably impressed with the fact that every dollar pledged to federal tax-incentives created $12 in growth. That certainly isn’t anything anybody wants to stop, and we asked for five more years of these important incentives.

Utah Clean Cities couldn’t be happier to know it has support for alternative fuels from our representatives in Congress.

Interested in purchasing an alternative-fuel vehicle, but not sure where to start? Visit our Utah Clean Cities website for more information about biodiesel, electric, flex-fuel, hydrogen, natural-gas, and propane vehicles. We also have a list of the alternative-fuel fueling/charging locations across the state if you want to explore whether an alternative-fuel vehicle would meet your transportation needs.
Tammie Bostick Cooper

I am the Executive Director of Utah Clean Cities. I’m passionate about clean fuels, clean air, and clean strategies. I am a Utah native and graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in organizational communications. Prior to my work with Utah Clean Cities, I was Executive Director for the Family Support Center of the Uintah Basin, co-founder of the most effective rural children’s justice center in Utah, and worked as an early intervention specialist with the Ute Indian Tribe for the Baby Your Baby tribal program.

As the daughter of a petroleum engineer, I lived the life of the boom-and-bust oil-field cycles. My experiences growing up deepened my commitment to preserving the delicate balance of Utah’s beautiful landscape and abundant resources with alternative, stateside fuels that are economically and ecologically sound and sustainable. I am one of the lead partners on the WestSmart grant with Pacificorp, where I will be developing workplace charging, fleet, and community education. I am also developing a program to promote increased consumer awareness of the new EPA vehicle sticker program and collaborating on the development of a Green Fleet program for Utah. I live in Salt Lake City near my two children who are attending Westminster College. Our family continues to contemplate our years spent in the High Uintahs living in a solar-powered, off-the-grid cabin. My best work to date has been as a mother and teacher.