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Indianapolis Mayor Enjoins Colleagues to Change City Fleets, End U.S. Dependence on Imported Oil

By Debra DeHaney-Howard and Kevin McCarty
January 28, 2013

Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard addressed Winter Meeting attendees at the January 19 morning plenary session, stating, “I want the legacy of the veterans of the Gulf War and War on Terror to be that no serviceperson will set foot on a future battlefield due to our dependence on foreign oil.”

Touting his city’s plan which shifts all city vehicles from gasoline and diesel fuels to compressed natural gas and electric vehicles by 2025, Ballard said, “Our national dependence on foreign oil compromises our national security.” He used his remarks to call upon other mayors to join him in pursuing post-petroleum transportation strategies in their cities.

Speaking as a 23-year Marine and a veteran of the Gulf War, Ballard said, “As a veteran, I know of the human toll it takes on our service men and women and their families ... The tragedy of war ... The separation of families. This is what is driving me. This is who I’m doing it for.”

“History will not look kindly on us when reflecting on the past 40 years, as the U.S. and her allies participated in the greatest voluntary transfer of wealth in world history,” he said.

Referencing earlier oil embargoes, he cited the transportation sector and its reliance on petroleum-based fuels. “The U.S. and its allies have faced a growing problem—that our transportation sector and our quality of life are dependent on foreign oil. And that makes us vulnerable. But now, technology allows us to change that dynamic.”

New Technologies Key to Indianapolis’ Plan

Charting a path to a different future, Ballard expressed optimism about this cause if mayors and others act. “But we can break out of this situation. And we can do it now. The technology is now here - it is not like it was 3–4 years ago.”

Acknowledging new developments in powering vehicles, he said, “Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids are here and competitively priced. They are solid, reliable cars—much better than just 3-4 years ago.” In referencing natural gas, Ballard said, “There’s plenty of CNG. And for that matter, liquefied natural gas is also a great option.”

He also described elements of his plan to transition to post-petroleum vehicles, such as purchasing non-responding fleet cars that are only EV or plug-in hybrid EVs and replacing the city’s entire heavy vehicle fleet and fire trucks with CNG-only vehicles.

Ballard urged other mayors to take up the challenge of moving to a petroleum-free transportation sector. “We look forward to working with you to break our dependence on foreign oil, stop sending money to people who want to do us harm, and bringing our troops home. We look forward to collaborating with you to end our dependence on foreign oil.”