The Tampa area joined nearly 100 cities across the nation Tuesday when community leaders officially partnered to form the .
President Judy Genshaft, Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission Executive Director Richard Garrity, and TECO Energy President and CEO John Ramil signed an agreement to launch the new effort, which is expected to help expand the use of clean transportation throughout the Tampa Bay area.
“We have formed a great partnership with a worthy goal,” Genshaft declared during a special ceremony at the USF Patel Center for Global Solutions.
The coalition will be responsible for establishing petroleum reduction strategies, measuring those strategies, and reporting to the U.S. Department of Energy on an annual basis, according to Stephen Reich, director of Transportation Program Evaluation and Economic Analysis at USF’s Center for Urban Transportation Research, who will serve as the coalition’s coordinator.
USF’s Patel School of Global Sustainability staff will carry out the outreach and assist with the research efforts of the initiative. The Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission and TECO Energy are kick-starting the effort with financial and in-kind support.
Representatives from Hillsborough County organizations, including the Hillsborough County school district and Tampa International Airport, attended Tuesday’s inauguration event. Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, as well as philanthropist and Precision Automotive President Frank Morsani talked about the importance of moving toward cleaner and more sustainable transportation.
“Natural gas is really the answer to long-term energy problems in our country,” Morsani said.
“We can make this happen,” he added later. “We can change our country. We can change what we’re doing.”
The Tampa coalition will create a forum for businesses and organizations to network and understand where conservation opportunities exist, Reich said. Once it’s established, the coalition will be eligible for recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy as a federal Clean Cities Coalition, which will enable the region to compete for financial support to meet its sustainability goals.
“We would invite all interested organizations to participate,” Reich said.
For more information about the Tampa Bay Clean Cities Coalition or to become part of the effort, email Reich at email@example.com.