|Pollution.(Photo by: Wikicommons)|
Expert: Bring US ‘Clean Cities’ program to Israel
By SHARON UDASIN
Meital Stavinsky, who works with Israeli cleantech firms says Israeli version of US initiative could reduce oil dependence.
The United States Department of Energy’s Clean Cities model, in which
municipalities aim to become “fuel-neutral,” could be an ideal way for Israeli
cities and towns to decrease their reliance on foreign oil, an expert has told
The Jerusalem Post.
The Clean Cities initiative was established in 1993
by the United States Department of Energy and now has nearly 100 coalitions
across the country.
Together they have saved 3 billion gallons of
petroleum since the project’s inception, according to Meital Stavinsky, an
attorney for the Miami-based firm Greenberg Traurig, where she primarily works
with Israeli cleantech firms and represents them in the US.
ultimate goal of advancing US economic and environmental security, Clean Cities
works to promote alternative fuels as well as deploy electric vehicles on the
“Their main mission is really to advance
environmentally friendly and efficient highway transportation to allow the US to
use less petroleum,” Stavinsky, who is co-chair of the legislative committee of
the South East Florida Clean Cities Coalition and a board member of the Greater
Washington Clean Cities Coalition, told the Post earlier this month.
the moment, transportation accounts for about 71 percent of oil use in US, and
there is consequently a strong connection between “security and independence
from foreign oil,” she explained. Therefore, establishing partnerships between
private companies and municipalities to deploy the necessary infrastructure for
alternative fueling and electric vehicles has become crucial.
to have the public infrastructure for refueling, especially in those phases of
the market development,” she said.
While the Clean Cities program does
not lean toward any one type of alternative fueling – be it compressed natural
gas, methanol, ethanol or electricity – Stavinsky said she was impressed to see
that approximately 60,000 electric vehicles had been sold in the US since
January 2011, already ahead of the growth rate hybrid cars achieved during their
“I think electrification of vehicles is a very important
method of alternative fuels,” she continued. “With that, I think that in the
phase we are at there should be different solutions encouraged at the same
Although the Clean Cities program overall tends to be quite thinly
budgeted, in November 2011 the federal government awarded a total of $11 million
to 20 chapters throughout the country in order to help states and local
governments cut red tape and develop an infrastructure for alternative fuels,
she said. In June of that year, the Department of Energy also decided to provide
$1.1m. for alternative fuel infrastructure in five national parks.
need to address this growing infrastructure and be ready for it,” she
Stavinsky, a native of Israel, said she thinks this country should
be employing a similar program. She recommended focusing, as has been done in
the US, on a few strong communities, making them completely fuel-neutral and
turning them into demonstration projects and test cases.
“The place to do
it is not necessarily in the big cities,” she said. “You want to start small and
see that it’s small enough so it has enough of an impact.”
Stavinsky acknowledged that cities like Tel Aviv and Netanya, as well as several
others, have already taken many individual steps toward becoming cleaner cities,
choosing one as a complete working model for the rest of the country would be
most beneficial for weaning society off traditional fuels. Creating a model
would also bring together many of the key stakeholders who all too often do not
work together on these issues, she added.
“It brings to the table people
from all ends – the government, the utilities, the companies and the public,”
Stavinsky said. “It’s really a place to join together work and make a
difference, and overcome the market barriers.”