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June 26, 2012

National Parks to Plug In

What comes to mind when you think of winning combinations? Peas and carrots? Peanut butter and jelly?

Now you can add national parks and cleaner cars to the list.

Spotting an EV during your next outdoors trip to a park just got a little likelier with the National Park Service’s recent announcement that five parks will be phasing alternative fuel vehicles into their fleets. NPS believes the plan will save the agency an estimated 16,000 gallons of gas and prevent about 83 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year.

"Not only will a switch to cleaner vehicles reduce air pollution and oil use at our pristine national parks, but they will show millions of tourists what may be possible for their next car purchase," said Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club's Director of Green Fleets & Electric Vehicles Initiative.

The $1.1 million plan, in partnership with the Energy Department, will green fleets and lessen oil dependency: Shenandoah will introduce an EV and a plug-in hybrid to its fleet, in addition to three EV chargers; San Antonio Missions National Historical Park will incorporate an electric utility truck into its fleet and install two EV chargers for the public; Blue Ridge Parkway plans to replace its vehicles that date back to 1989 with eight hybrids; and Golden Gate National Recreation Area plans to install five EV chargers for the public to use, as well as for the park’s fleet of five EVs.

The push for cleaner cars is a component of President Obama's overall plan to green the country's fleets. Last summer, the Obama administration instructed federal agencies that 100 percent of newly purchased light-weight vehicles needed to be alternative fuel vehicles. NPS's new commitment follows a successful pilot program that replaced buses in Yellowstone and ranger vehicles in Grand Tetons with hybrids and EVs.

Cleaning up fleets in our country's parks makes a whole lot of sense. Air pollution in these special places is an ongoing problem. And focusing on fleets will lead the way to cleaner transportation options for all Americans who want to get off oil.

-- Brian Foley

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