Utah is making tremendous progress on advancing smart mobility solutions to help protect the environment and improve air quality across the state. In both the public and private sectors, Utahns are coming together in the spirit of collaboration to help build a cleaner, more sustainable energy future by investing in forward-thinking strategies and technologies.
These efforts are a clear signal that Utah’s residents, businesses and communities are ready to embrace climate-friendly clean energy solutions. However, for us to fully realize the potential of clean fuels, clean air and clean strategies, we need our leaders in Washington to continue amplifying bipartisan solutions that support infrastructure investment and innovation in America’s clean energy sector. The climate denial policy decisions elected officials make at both the state and federal levels have enormous consequences on the work we and countless others do to advance clean transportation solutions across the state.
Working with the federal government has been critical to this success. Utah Clean Cities is leading partnerships with the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office with two innovative Smart Mobility programs: EVZion and CORWest.
As the name implies, EVZion focuses on demonstrating a zero-emissions, electric vehicle (EV) shuttle system in partnership with Kanab and the East Zion Initiative. The benefits of transitioning to an all-electric fleet of shuttles will be tremendous. The design plan of the theater-view shuttle will allow visitors to see and to be “moved” by the wonder of Zion park.
The CORWest project is aimed at connecting eight Intermountain West regional states — Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado — through a series of electric corridors. Both programs alone will help improve Utah’s air quality — taken together as a whole, they will have a tremendous impact, especially when applied to large fleets, such as a shuttle fleet.
The recent 2021 Utah legislative session greatly enhanced many Utah projects through tax incentives and have the potential to power-up Utah’s smart mobility deployment with state-of-the-art technologies and fuels that are renewable, net zero and in some cases, carbon-benefitting. Cradle-to-cradle strategies that prevent greenhouse gases from being emitted represent the ultimate goal for climate action.
Direct action is needed to reduce and minimize the production, sale and use of fossil fuels. This strategy is critical to making meaningful progress in regard to climate mitigation. We are in a position to deploy smart mobility strategies today in our nation. We are especially positioned to lead this movement in resource-rich Utah with abundant options for renewable energy and clean fuels.
Our energy sector in Utah is advantageously positioned to educate and mobilize the workforce of the future now. Our universities, community colleges, regional vocational schools are ideally situated and ready to train, retrain and reskill a resilient workforce.
Utah’s education system is one that will grow with the advancement of state-of-the-art renewable power generation, key infrastructure expansion, clean energy production. Moreover, Utah is training future professionals to operate, maintain and provide the technical support of the new, emerging and progressed energy sector.
At the federal level, there appears to be a growing bipartisan consensus on the need to support similar clean energy and transportation policies with funding supporting critical infrastructure. The first major energy innovation package passed in over a decade, the Energy Act dedicates $35 billion over the next five years to advance a range of clean energy efforts.
There is no doubt in my mind that we can rise to the challenges we face when it comes to securing a cleaner energy future for everyone. It will take all of us working together as allies to get the job done.
Tammie Bostick is executive director of Utah Clean Cities Coalition and also serves as vice president of Transportation Energy Partners, a collaborative federally focused group supporting the Clean Cities Coalition Network. She is on the governor’s Motor Vehicle Review Board and is an ASPIRE Innovation Partner with Utah State University. Utah Clean Cities works to support Utah’s transition to a cleaner energy and smart mobility future advancing clean energy and technology initiatives statewide by supporting organizations and fleets in their efforts to reduce vehicle emissions and contribute to a better air quality for Utah