By Tammie Bostick Cooper, Guest Blogger
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.
What’s the best way to celebrate the eighth annual Governor’s Declaration for Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Awareness Month? With events that highlight the advantages and promise of alternative fuel vehicles for reducing our emissions and solving our air quality problems! That’s why the Utah Clean Cities Coalition brought together a wide variety of stakeholders, legislators, clean-air advocates, businesses, and women leaders to discuss the future of AFV in Utah. We kicked off the month with a press conference on the Capitol steps and rounded it off with the Utah Women’s Leadership Alternative Transportation Tour.
Dr. Laura Nelson, director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development, delivered the Governor’s Declaration to an audience surrounded by a wide selection of alternative fuel vehicles and equipment, including an electric forklift, a propane shuttle bus, a city-owned electric car, and a natural-gas school bus. Speakers from the legislature, local businesses, and the Salt Lake City Office of Sustainability echoed the sentiments expressed in the Governor’s Declaration by encouraging individuals and businesses to adopt low- and zero-emissions transportation options.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tax Incentives
The Governor’s declaration also encouraged Utah residents to take advantage of state and federal tax incentives for AFV purchases for business fleets and private use. Financial analysis of these incentives has shown both short-term and long-term benefits to businesses and individuals who switch to AFVs. Most importantly, these tax incentives lead to reduced emissions and improved air quality.
Alternative Fuel Corridor
The same day as the press conference, officials from the Department of Transportation touted the importance of the Alternative Fuel Corridor along I-15 to the nationwide alternative fuels and electric charging network. The Governor’s Declaration pointed out state efforts to build an electric vehicle (EV) charging corridor along I-15 along with the current compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling infrastructure. Utah has the largest natural-gas fueling infrastructure per capita in the nation, with propane gaining momentum in the commercial, carrier, and equipment sectors. Continued expansion of electric charging stations along I-15 will increase the use of zero-emission transportation.
Utah Women Leaders Alternative Transportation Tour
Utah Clean Cities concluded the month with the first-ever Utah Women’s Leadership Alternative Vehicle Tour. Twenty-five women leaders in business, communities, educational institutions, municipalities, and clean-air advocacy in Utah were in attendance.
The “tour” began with an overview of alternative vehicles during a round table discussion over brunch, followed by a trip in an auto-powered (propane) shuttle to Utah businesses to see first-hand the vehicles and infrastructure that can change the transportation landscape in positive ways. Traveling together in auto-gas (propane) shuttle driven by Canyon Transport CEO, Melanie Marier, these inspired women learned about natural gas, propane, electric, hybrids, and the infrastructure to support those vehicles.
While transportation has traditionally been seen as a world dominated by men, as more women become CEOs, government officials, municipal directors, and community decision-makers, good working knowledge of transportation options ensures that these women leaders can make the best choices given all the options.
One woman commented, “I usually do not attend women-only events; I am a geologist, a scientist and have primarily worked with all men in the mining industry. I was delighted and surprised by the calm, intelligent, and warm inclusiveness of this tour.”
It was quite a month, full of inspiration and calls to action. Utah is blessed with an abundance of locally sourced, cleaner alternative fuels such as natural gas, propane and electric. As a result, we are uniquely positioned to continue to lead the nation in the use of alternative fuels and alternative fuel infrastructure.
Our Utah air quality demands more than national positioning and state leadership, it demands thoughtful and active participation with our policy-makers and our citizenry. We all make choices every day, and now is the time to choose better, cleaner transportation. Alternative fuels and vehicles are crucial to air quality solutions in the near and distant future.
Want to learn more about alternative fuels? You can find more information at Salt Lake City Green and Utah Clean Cities. Are you a small business that would like to make the switch to AFVs or alternative fuel equipment? Contact the UCAIR Air Assist Grant Program. Interested in finding out if the grants and tax incentives for AFVs would work for you or your business? Check out Utah’s Clean Fuels Grant Program or the national Transportation Incentives.
I am the Northern Coordinator for Utah Clean Cities, promoting alternative vehicles and clean air strategies like Idle Free. I believe there has never been a more compelling time to be involved with transportation and to answer the urgent call to change our dependence on imported fossil fuels. There are no perfect fuels, but there are practical solutions leading to them.
I grew up ranching and close to nature. I graduated from the University of Utah and worked with children on the Ute Indian Reservation. I raised two bright children in a small, off-the-grid cabin in the high Uintas. They all live in Salt Lake. Alexia and Cole attend Westminster College, where they continue to reflect on their childhood.