Aim of N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Transportation Program Reinforced by National Strategy for Energy Security Report

Education, outreach and deployment of alternative fuel and advanced vehicle technologies were highlighted in a report released December 3rd in Washington D.C. by the Energy Security Leadership Council (ESLC). Anne Tazewell, Clean Transportation Program Manager, attended the press conference and panel discussion that included the CEOs of Fed Ex and Waste Management, as well as retired U.S. admirals and generals who are especially sensitive to national security issues related to U.S. over reliance on petroleum in the transportation sector.

The morning event was also attended by two U.S. Senators: Lemar Alexander (R,TN) and Roy Blount (R, MO) who spoke about legislation they have recently introduced to establish fuel neutral deployment communities in small to medium size cities. Given the focus of the N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Transportation program and North Carolina’s three Clean Cities Coalitions  on reducing barriers to more widespread adoption of alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), North Carolina is in an excellent position to fulfill the 2013 report’s deployment communities’ recommendation. In the end, “if consumers do not believe that it will be cost effective and easy to own and operate an AFV, they are unlikely to buy one.  Using local communities as a “petri dish” to learn what works and doesn’t work will go a long way to insuring nationwide success.”

The Council is bullish on increasing electricity and natural gas in transportation, as well as R & D for advanced biofuels and battery technology. Waste Management (WM) CEO, David Steiner spoke about how they are turning landfill gas into energy. WM has developed technology that is not only using landfill gas to power buildings, but also its transportation fleet.  Steiner stated, “We don’t just need R & D, we need deployment [funding] to see if this works to scale.”

Accounting for 37 percent of energy demand in 2011, the report notes that petroleum has a larger share of energy demand than any other fuel. The 126-page document states that “U.S. spending on petroleum fuels, which topped $890 billion in 2011, currently accounts for approximately three quarters of total spending on energy.”  Moreover, “this year’s deficit in oil trade is expected to once again surpass $300 billion with global oil prices near record levels amid instability in the Middle East and North Africa.”  What this means is that U.S. consumers continue to subsidize the incomes of other countries, many of whom don’t like the United States.

In summary the bipartisan group highlighted a comprehensive approach to transportation energy security.  While expanding U.S. production is needed, Admiral Dennis Blair, Former Director of National Intelligence and Commander in Chief U.S. Pacific Command, called for high standards and rigid enforcement to insure that natural gas and oil drilling is done in the most responsible manner possible. The Council also calls out transportation fuel diversity through a multi-prong approach as critical to our nation’s future.

The report which is posted on the Council’s website  is an important guide to harnessing American resources and innovation.