In a move to help the National Park System become more fuel efficient, the National Park Service and U.S. Department of Energy are partnering to bring alternative fuel vehicles to the parks.
The two agencies this week announced that five national parks around the country will deploy fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles as part of an expanded partnership, helping to protect some of America's most prized natural environments.
"Through the Clean Cities partnership, the Energy Department and the National Park Service are helping to protect America's natural resources and put our country on the path to a clean energy future," said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Danielson. "By advancing access to alternative fuel and fuel efficient vehicles, we are working to reduce our reliance on imported oil, increase our energy security and create jobs across the country."
Through these efforts, the Energy Department is expanding its partnership with the Park Service to increase the efficiency and alternative fuel use of vehicle fleets at these national parks, impacting over 32 million visitors annually while saving $250,000, fuel equivalent to nearly 16,000 gallons of gasoline, and about 83 tons of greenhouse gases each year. In addition to improving the parks' fleets, the planned projects will showcase alternative fuels, advanced technology vehicles, ways to reduce vehicle idling, and other actions drivers can take to save fuel and money.
"This partnership helps us meet a 'Green our Rides' goal —one of nine goals we've adopted in a Green Parks Plan to reduce our overall carbon footprint," said Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "Changing to alternative fuel vehicles and technologies aligns with our commitment to demonstrate that resource stewardship and sustainability are connected.
"And there are multiple benefits—we use less petroleum which saves money and reduces air pollution in America's national parks," he added. "Some of these alternative fuel vehicles are multi-passenger rides devoted to park visitors and that means even greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. When visitors park their vehicles to enjoy the park by shuttle or bicycle, they can experience even more of the scenery, history and wildlife."
Each of these national parks is collaborating with at least one of the Energy Department's Clean Cities coalitions to choose the best clean energy options for its fleet.
These newly participating parks include:
* Shenandoah National Park: Will partner with Virginia Clean Cities to deploy an all-electric vehicle (EV), a plug-in hybrid EV, and 12 propane lawn mowers. The park also plans to install three EV chargers, two of which will be accessible to park visitors.
* Blue Ridge Parkway: Plans to partner with Virginia Clean Cities to improve its fleet's efficiency by replacing vehicles dating back to 1989 with eight new hybrid vehicles.
* San Antonio Missions National Historical Park: Plans to partner with Alamo Area Clean Cities to deploy a propane-powered truck and an electric utility truck, and to install two EV chargers that will be available to the public.
* Golden Gate National Recreation Area: Plans to partner with San Francisco Clean Cities to install five EV chargers, which will serve both the public and the park's five new electric vehicles. The park also plans to upgrade its heavy-duty maintenance equipment to run on a biodiesel blend and the fueling infrastructure to support it.
* Mesa Verde National Park: Plans to partner with both the Southern Colorado and Philadelphia Clean Cities coalitions to deploy a new propane bus, shuttle van, truck, and lawnmower, along with two propane fueling stations. Mesa Verde is also launching a park-wide initiative to educate the public about the benefits of idle reduction.
These projects build upon the success of three pilot projects launched last year at Grand Teton National Park, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Yellowstone National Park. The parks predict their combined projects will save more than 13,000 equivalent gallons of gasoline and about 100 tons of greenhouse gases annually, as well as reach 6.5 million visitors each year.
The Energy Department has been working with the National Park Service since 1999 to support the use of clean, renewable and alternative fuels, electric drive vehicles, and other energy-saving practices to help preserve air quality and promote the use of domestic energy resources in the parks. Through the expanded partnership, the Energy Department is providing $1.1 million for the park projects announced this week.