OPINION: Demonstrate patriotism, support for alternative fuels

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When I was growing up, patriotism was never more on display than around the Fourth of July.

Nearly every house on the block raised the flag and we’d all gather for parades in our red, white and blue attire before attending fireworks displays after the sun went down.

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My parents’ generation expressed patriotism in much larger ways, including as an act of service to country in World War II. Those who stayed on the home front helped with patriotic efforts by participating in scrap drives, collecting metal for recycling to be used in building support equipment for the war effort.

Today, Americans can and should band together with the same sense of patriotic pride of the World War II scrap drives in supporting the use and adoption of sustainable, domestic transportation fuels and technologies. Our organization, Wisconsin Clean Cities, strives to do this each and every day. Our nonprofit organization is one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s more than 75 Clean Cities coalitions. The organizations support the nation’s energy and economic security by building partnerships to advance affordable domestic transportation fuels, energy efficient mobility systems and other fuel-saving technologies and practices.

The coalitions achieve this in a number of ways, including the advancement of alternative fuels, alternative fuel vehicles and sustainable vehicle technologies such as electric vehicles and their charging infrastructure.

Few could argue against investing in American fuels, technologies and jobs. Many of our members and partners across Wisconsin are doing just that, including those agencies supporting other American heroes, our first responders.

We were thrilled to join our member the City of Madison Fleet Service last month as they celebrated the grand opening of their new headquarters building and garage.

Under the leadership of Wisconsin Clean Cities Auxiliary Board Member Mahanth Joishy, who serves as superintendent for the city’s fleet, Madison now boasts a fleet of more than 56 electric vehicles including electric transit buses from our member Proterra, nearly 600 biodiesel-fueled trucks, solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations, 50 hybrid vehicles (primarily used by the police department) and, most recently, the nation’s first electric fire truck.

The Pierce Volterra Pumper is a product of Oshkosh Corporation, headquartered in Wisconsin.

Other Wisconsin companies supporting Madison’s efforts are Wisconsin Clean Cities members as well, including Madison Gas and Electric and Alliant Energy, which partnered with the city on fleet electrification and charging station efforts, and Renewable Energy Group, which partners to supply biodiesel to the city’s fleet out of DeForest.

Let’s not forget the American heroes these vehicles are supporting. Municipalities like Madison adopting these alternative fuels and technologies ensure first responders are able to act quickly in case of emergency even when petroleum supplies are compromised. Supporting them and their efforts with clean, American fuels and technologies helps them to be even more ready to answer the call when we need them most.

Wisconsin Clean Cities is working to support their efforts as well.

In 2020, we began the two-year Statewide Assistance for Energy Resiliency and Reliability (SAFER2) grant program, assisting the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation in developing a comprehensive statewide effort to improve energy emergency plans at the local level. As part of the program, Wisconsin Clean Cities provides in-depth fleet assessments, education and outreach to governments.

You can learn more about these efforts and how communities in Wisconsin – including Madison – and across the country are successfully implementing sustainable transportation into their operations during our SAFER2 Webinar from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 4.

This column first appeared in Kenosha News and other Lee Enterprises newspapers across Wisconsin. Lorrie Lisek is executive director of Wisconsin Clean Cities and president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.

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