Travis and Bexar counties proceed with plans to electrify vehicle fleets
Friday, June 18, 2021 by Seth Smalley
Travis and Bexar counties are making moves to electrify their vehicle fleets as part of a partnership with the South Central Texas Electric Transportation Compact. In hopes of serving as a model for other counties in the region, the two counties passed separate resolutions on the issue in their respective Commissioners Courts on June 15.
“Transportation pollution is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions and air quality degradation, leading to significant impacts on the Earth’s climate health, health costs, the economy, and environmental justice concerns,” a joint statement circulated by the county officials read.
Commissioner Brigid Shea of Travis County and Commissioner Justin Rodriguez of Bexar County, both ETC co-chairs, cited Winter Storm Uri among the consequences of climate change.
“Climate change is causing an increase in the frequency of extreme weather events and was a factor in Winter Storm Uri, which had devastating impacts on millions of Texans and caused billions of dollars in damage.”
Created in late 2020, the Electric Transportation Compact was tasked with responding to the leading cause of air pollution in the South Central Texas region: tailpipe emissions. The ETC aims to mitigate the deleterious effects of tailpipe emissions through vehicle electrification, “expanded use of electronic communication,” and increasing instances of telework, thereby reducing vehicle use.
Shea and Rodriguez spotlighted the need for fleet electrification in order to reduce emissions in the region, particularly from the stretch of Interstate 35 that passes through and around downtown Austin. According to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, this segment of highway is the most congested in the nation.
“We can play a key role in reducing regional transportation emissions by developing model plans and programs, leveraging partnerships and providing regional leadership for others to follow,” Shea said. “In addition, passage of these resolutions will also help our counties leverage funding opportunities that may be available as a result of a federal infrastructure bill.”
Rodriguez agreed that it is critical “to protect our families and our community from unnecessary health risks and economic loss. The cost of inaction is too great, and we must continue to advance measures that offer a path for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in both the near and long term.”
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