PHOENIX – A cherry picker and a cab. A Tesla and an 18–wheeler. A frozen food truck and a school bus.
Parked in front of the State Capitol, these vehicles had more in common than wheels.
Arizona’s Clean Cities coalitions brought in two dozen cars and trucks recently to show legislators the kinds of vehicles that have been and can be powered by alternative fuels.
“A lot of them have no idea what alternative fuel can do,” said Colleen Crowninshield, manager of Tucson Regional Clean Cities Coalition. “Today, we’re letting them actually see the vehicles, touch them, sit in them.”
More than 20 local and national companies supporting alternative fuels lined a sidewalk with posters and booths.
In order for alternative fuels to become more than just novelties, the advocates said, there must be legislative support and infrastructure.
“There are definitely a lot of political hurdles,” said Richard Lemon, a coordinator at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability.
Alternative fuels and renewable energy are typically Democrat-supported initiatives, Lemon said, making them a tough sell in Arizona’s Republican-dominated Legislature.
“People let party lines guide them. They don’t accept the science,” he said. “There has to be more education. That’s why we’re here.”
But Crowninshield said she believes all lawmakers see the value in alternative fuels.
“They all want to do something, and a majority of them are behind us,” she said. “They all have children and grandchildren and they know this is the future.”
Republican Secretary of State Ken Bennett, the former CEO of a fuel-distribution company, appeared at the event to show his support for Clean Cities.
“You might be thinking, ‘Why would someone who’s made their living dispensing diesel and gasoline be here?’” he said.
Bennett said it’s because he believes alternative fuels can spur economic growth in Arizona, attracting new companies and weaning the state off its dependence on foreign oil.