OPINION: 2021 a year of wins for sustainable transportation


Many people would rather forget the events of this past year and the year before, but for Wisconsin Clean Cities and the sustainable transportation industry as a whole, 2021 has been a year full of victories that will have positive implications for years to come.

We learned this year that in 2020, our members and stakeholders displaced more than 50 million gasoline gallon equivalents, a record for our coalition. That is the greenhouse gas emission reduction equivalent of removing more than 97,000 passenger vehicles from the road for one year.

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The work of our stakeholders in supporting alternative fuel vehicles, electric vehicles and their fueling and charging infrastructures is helping to improve air quality, support domestic fuels, reduce dependence on imported oil and improve the overall quality of life for those who live, work and play in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Clean Cities in 2021 partnered on several multi-year, federal- and state-funded grant programs and projects supporting these efforts, including the U.S. Department of Energy-funded Michigan to Montana I-94 Clean Fuel Corridor Project, which works to fill alternative fueling and EV charging gaps along the interstate. We are a partner on the multi-state Vehicle Charging Innovations for Multi-Unit Dwellings grant, also funded by the DOE, which works to document barriers to EV charging for apartment- and condo dwellers and develop a toolkit to help overcome them.

We also partner on the U.S. DOE-funded Natural Gas Vehicles Updated Performance Tracking Integrating Maintenance Expenses project, which works to quantify differences in maintenance costs between diesel and natural gas vehicles and capture solutions and best practices.

One of our new U.S. DOE-funded projects is Drive Clean Rural USA, which brings together rural government leaders, business owners, fleet managers, farmers and industry experts in a multi-state project to accelerate rural communities’ access to clean fuel transportation solutions.

Wisconsin Clean Cities also leads the Drive Electric Wisconsin project, part of DRIVE Electric USA. The partnership of Clean Cities coalitions works to advance EV adoption in their states, reduce market barriers and create a playbook for other states.

In November, Wisconsin Clean Cities learned it will be one of 30 Clean Cities coalitions partnering on the DOE-funded $4.9 million Equitable Mobility Powering Opportunities for Workplace Electrification Readiness Project aimed at creating a new national workplace charging alliance.

Wisconsin Clean Cities is also continuing its work on the Statewide Assistance for Energy Resiliency and Reliability grant program, assisting the Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation in developing a statewide plan to improve energy emergency plans at the local level. Wisconsin Clean Cities provides government fleet assessments, education and outreach as part of the project.

We anticipate the more than $5 billion expected to come to Wisconsin via the Infrastructure Bill and the legislation introduced last month at the state level supporting the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change will greatly enhance the ongoing efforts of our Clean Cities coalition and our stakeholders. We stand ready to continue our work with leaders to develop comprehensive plans that build on the long-standing success of existing programs already advancing sustainable transportation across the state.

We are thankful to look back on 2021 as a year of tremendous success and look forward to 2022 with hopeful optimism as the year that will define our sustainable transportation future for years to come.

This column originally 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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