The Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition — in partnership with its clean fuel stakeholders, held a press conference, alternative fuel vehicle display, and ride and drive event on Monday, April 22nd at AZ Young Park in downtown Baton Rouge.
In celebration of Earth Day, the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition hosted an educational presentation for Louisiana policy makers and press regarding the benefits of alternative fuels. At a time when many areas of the state are becoming more concerned with ozone emissions, alternative fuels are an important part of addressing the air pollution problem. According to GBRCCC Executive Director, Lauren Stuart, “clean fuels offer invaluable benefits to the state of Louisiana. By diversifying our transportation fuels, we can improve local air quality, strengthen the regional economy, and advance national energy independence.”
The Clean Fuels press conference took place at 1:30 on the steps of the State Capitol. Speakers included GBRCCC executive director, Lauren Stuart, owner of Baton Rouge based Stop-and-Go Driving Academy, Kay Wallock, director of the Lafayette Parish School System, William Samec, Louisiana State Representative, Stephen Ortego, and commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Mike Strain.
“As a public servant, I, along with my management and finance team, are always looking for ways to cut costs and save taxpayers money. So far, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has purchased one compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicle but plans to purchase more to test the product in our effort to save money, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The CNG fuel costs, on average, $1.69 per gallon and unleaded fuel, on average, costs $3.25 per gallon. So far, we are seeing a benefit and a cost savings for the department,” said Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain.
Representative Stephen Ortego is currently working to pass legislation that protects alternative fuel vehicle and infrastructure tax credits in Louisiana. He explained the energy security aspects of alternative fuels, “Louisiana can be a leader towards energy security for the United States by pushing alternative fuel vehicles who run on the very natural resources we produce. We are the number one producer of natural gas in the country and the number two producer of propane gas. Why not push for vehicles like these?”
Vehicles on display included the Lafayette Parish School System propane-powered school bus, converted CNG Ford pickup trucks from Niyato Industries and Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, CNG Civics from Stop-and-Go Driving Academy and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, plugin electric vehicles from Royal Nissan and Gerry Lane Chevrolet, as well as hybrid-electric luxury vehicles from Brian Harris BMW, Mercedes Benz of Baton Rouge and Price LeBlanc Lexus.
Clean Cities is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program. GBRCCC is a designated affiliate of the national Clean Cities program and receives additional support from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources. The mission of the Greater Baton Rouge Clean Cities Coalition is to advance the nation’s environmental, economic and energy security by supporting local actions to provide transportation fuel options.