OPINION: Sustainable solutions key for municipal fleets

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When you put your trash can at the curb weekly, you likely don’t think about how the truck that took your trash away is fueled.

The same is likely true when your street is plowed in winter, police and fire crews arrive safely to help you in times of need or your city bus gets you safely to your destination. 

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Unless you’re in the industry, most people don’t give much thought to the work trucks needed move our lives forward, let alone to how they are fueled or powered.

Work Truck Week, an annual trade show in Indianapolis hosted by our friends at NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry, helps to highlight some of the options available for fleets. We at Drive Clean Indiana attend the event annually, which took place the second week of March this year.

Drive Clean Indiana hosted a Municipal Fleet Networking Reception during Work Truck Week with our members Best Equipment Company, Ingevity, Ozinga Energy and MacAllister Transportation at Best Equipment Company’s headquarters to highlight vehicle, equipment and grant funding options available for municipalities.

The time is right for municipalities to consider getting on board with sustainable transportation options, for a variety of reasons.

The geopolitical conflicts driving high gasoline prices illustrate the need to reduce our dependence on petroleum in favor of cleaner domestic fuels and technologies. Doing so increases investments in American jobs, companies and the economy while reducing dependence on imported oil and supporting cleaner, healthier air and fewer expenses for our local governments.

The funding coming from the bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to support clean fuel and technology options like alternative fuels and electric vehicles – on top of the longstanding state and federal funding programs and the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Trust Fund grants – make it an even better time to get on board.

Our Indiana Green Fleet program makes it easy to take the first step. Drive Clean Indiana works with metropolitan planning organizations including the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) to improve the environmental performance of business and municipal fleets. As part of the program, Drive Clean Indiana conducts a fleet audit with recommendations for specific clean fuel and technologies to better meet each participating fleet’s needs.

That audit and those recommendations are then used to help apply for grant funding to support turning the recommendations into action. The program also includes educational events, networking and support.

We at Drive Clean Indiana have worked with countless municipalities to help them make more sustainable decisions about their fleets and operations over the years with tens of millions of dollars of success.

We’ve helped bring compressed natural gas refuse trucks, snowplows and dump trucks and fueling stations and garages to support them to our communities. We’ve facilitated hybrid police and fire vehicles for our first responders. We’ve partnered with NIPSCO to bring electric vehicle charging stations to our cities and towns. We’ve helped bring electric, compressed natural gas and propane transit buses to our municipalities, and much more.

Municipal budgets are our budgets and these projects are our tax dollars at work. Supporting your community’s investment in clean, domestic fuels, vehicles, equipment and technologies benefit all citizens, far beyond jurisdictional boundaries.

Encourage your community to get on board and be part of the solution. Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental legacy.

This column originally appeared in The Times of Northwest Indiana. Carl Lisek is the executive director of Drive Clean Indiana and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writers.

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