Center for American Progress

RELEASE: An Electric Fleet and Public Charging Stations Can Help the National Park Service Reach Carbon Reduction Goals
Press Release

RELEASE: An Electric Fleet and Public Charging Stations Can Help the National Park Service Reach Carbon Reduction Goals

Washington, D.C. — Amid concerns of increasing greenhouse gas emissions in national parks from upwind sources, such as coal-fired power plants and passenger vehicles, the Center for American Progress today released an issue brief recommending steps the Obama administration can take to further combat vehicle emissions in national parks and on public lands. The issue brief takes a look at the National Park Service’s existing Clean Cities coalition partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to promote electric vehicles, or EVs, and public EV charging stations in national parks and finds that while this program has been successful at cutting emissions in national parks, the program can be expanded further to help the park service meet emissions reduction goals in advance of its 2016 centennial and cut vehicle emissions on other public lands.

On average, passenger vehicle emissions account for 40 percent of emissions that originate in national parks. However, by just replacing gasoline-powered pickup trucks with EVs and installing EV charging stations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, for example, emissions from ground transportation would be reduced by roughly 40 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“This nationwide collaboration between the Department of Energy and the National Park Service has allowed EV drivers to use clean vehicles to access some of the nation’s greatest treasures even in remote areas. Local Clean Cities coalitions continue to provide support for EV charging installations, along with the Department of Energy, and these federal partnerships have been instrumental in transitioning traditional vehicle fleets to EVs and providing the public opportunities to learn about this clean technology in national parks,” said Myriam Alexander-Kearns, CAP Research Associate and co-author of the brief.

A key tenet of the National Park Service’s 2012 Green Parks Plan is to make transportation in the parks more environmentally friendly and to reduce the bureau’s carbon footprint by its centennial.

“Air pollution in our national parks is a growing problem that requires innovative solutions,” said Nidhi Thakar, Deputy Director of CAP’s Public Lands Project and co-author of the brief. “The park service has made significant progress toward meeting its goals for cutting emissions in national parks and is leading the way through the deployment of EVs and charging stations. The National Park Service’s centennial next year provides a chance for the park service to build on this success by expanding its program.”

To accelerate the transition to EVs and increase the number of EV charging stations available on public lands, the authors recommend:

  • Expanding the Clean Cities National Parks Initiative to apply to Bureau of Land Management public lands and Forest Service lands
  • Doubling the number of national park system units with EV charging stations, bringing the total to 42
  • Providing reduced park entrance fees for electric vehicles
  • Applying energy savings performance contracts to pay for EV charging stations to help offset burdensome upfront infrastructure costs

Click here to read the issue brief.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.