On February 12-14, Clean Cities coordinators and a variety of industry stakeholders gathered in Washington, DC for the 2018 Energy Independence Summit (EIS). This year’s event was the 11th in its current form; it is presented annually by Transportation Energy Partners (TEP).
EIS has grown into the premier clean transportation policy summit. About 130 people attended EIS 2018. Platinum sponsors included Nissan and UPS. Gold sponsors were Workhorse, ROUSH CleanTech, Volkswagen, United Soybean Board, National Biodiesel Board, Cummins-Westport, and NGVAmerica.
“Our 11th Summit was big success once again,” said Phillip Wiedmeyer, Vice-President of TEP and President of Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition. “We couldn’t do this without the strong support of our industry partners and Clean Cities coordinators.”
The main purpose of EIS is to educate members of Congress and their staffs about the work that Clean Cities coalitions, industry partners and fleets are doing to adopt and promote cleaner, advanced transportation fuels and technologies across the country. This educational strategy has proven highly effective over the years, as coordinators and industry partners have built relationships with Congressional offices based on successful efforts. Summit participants, especially Clean Cities coordinators, also benefit back home from the relationship building aspect of the Summit.
“We’ve been able to build such strong relationships with Congressional staffs and members from Arizona,” said Colleen Crowninshield, TEP Board member and Coordinator of Tucson Clean Cities. “We simply educate them about what we’re doing, and they ask how they can help.”
The Monday, February 12 agenda featured presentations focused on the state of various clean transportation industries and status and prospects for policies. On Tuesday, February 13, teams of Summit participants visited Congressional offices all day – over 240 visits collectively in all. Wednesday, February 14, was devoted to meetings with leaders at federal agencies, including Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and others.
Many of the attendees raised specific policy issues during their visits. These included funding for the Clean Cities program, tax incentives for a wide range of alternative fuels and advanced vehicles, positive impacts from the Renewable Fuel Standard, and issues regarding administration of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Program by the Federal Highway Administration.
Timing of EIS 2018 could not have been more ideal, especially in terms of the federal budget and Clean Cities funding. Because of the visits plus the groundwork prior to the Summit and subsequent follow up, Clean Cities received a slight increase in funding in the Omnibus federal budget passed on March 21. Clean Cities coalitions and industry allies had been extremely concerned that the program might be drastically cut or even eliminated. The Trump Administration and original House of Representatives budget included zero funding for Clean Cities.
“There’s absolutely no doubt that TEP and the impact of the Summit led directly to the recent success with Clean Cities funding,” said Alleyn Harned, TEP Board member and Executive Director of Virginia Clean Cities. “This shows the impact of the Summit and importance in personally participating.”
TEP recently elected five new Board members to join existing members of the Board and is beginning to plan Energy Independence Summit 2019. An announcement of dates is expected by the end of April.