Takeaways from the Clean Fuels Summit in New Orleans

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Louisiana Clean Fuels and Clean Cities Coalition recently teamed up to bring the Clean Fuels Summit to New Orleans. This was an event that landed me in the Harrah’s Casino Hotel by the Riverwalk, where I could hear the blasts from the river cruises nearby. On the evening before the summit, LCF held an awards ceremony where Executive Director Ann Vail honored several partners and businesses that help to advance the nation’s environmental, economic, and energy security by supporting local actions to diversify transportation fuel options.

Among those awarded were UPS, Jaguar (for providing I-PACE EVs to various LCF events), The Louisiana Tesla Owners and Dreamers Facebook group (which are local EV owners that always come to events to allow people to experience their Teslas), Commuter Krewe, Swepco, and Entergy.

I got to say hello to CJ of Commuter Krewe again and he introduced me to Derek Chisholm, the Program Coordinator. Commuter Krewe is located in Baton Rouge and links up the Capitol area businesses and commuters with the goal of reducing congestion in our city. They were awarded the Louisiana Clean Fuels Leader Award for VMT Reduced Carpooling.

Clean Fuels Summit

Clean Fuels Summit Recap

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality

The Clean Fuels Summit was held at the NOLA Motorsports Park and included speakers representing businesses in the transportation industry from around the world. Deputy Secretary Denise Bennett of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality was also there and updated us on what the state was doing with the funding from the Louisiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund.

Louisiana’s share is $19.8 million and the Mitigation Plan, in which LDEQ was designated as the lead agency by the governor’s office, outlines how the state will use the funds to reduce NOx emissions. In the update given by Dep. Secretary Bennet, he spoke about EV infrastructure that has so far had $664,000 invested into the installation of 24 level 2 chargers and 9 DC fast chargers across the state.

The University of Louisiana (Lafayette)

Director of Sustainability Gretchen Lacombe Vanicor and Director of the Energy Efficiency & Sustainable Energy Center Terrence L. Champers, Ph. C., P.E., were the keynote speakers and spoke about how the university is doing its part with a zero-waste policy and other projects. University of Louisiana, Lafayette, is the 25th most environmentally friendly university in the US, and has a strategic plan in place.

The University of Louisiana is a zero-waste university. Cajun Field has zero food waste at football games and has either composted or donated over 350 pounds of food waste at football games. 1,727 meals were donated to Second Harvest Food Bank. The University of Louisiana also has the largest outdoor photovoltaic research and testing lab in the US.

BYD (Build Your Dreams)

Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, BYD stands for Build Your Dreams, and it believes the future of transportation is electric. BYD has 240,000 employees, 50,000 electric buses on the road, and 2,000 electric trucks out there. Right now, we are facing an urban crisis that challenges the transportation industry in two ways:

  1. Traffic congestion
  2. Air pollution

80% of cities are at an unhealthy pollution level. In Los Angeles, BYD has 100 electric buses on the roads and Los Angeles has the goal of having 100% of its buses electric by 2030. In Indianapolis, the IndyGo bus system’s entire fleet will be electric by 2035 and the buses are 60 feet in length. There are also 8,000 zero-emissions trucks globally.


Roush is based in Michigan and its products are in the mobility, electric, aerospace, defense, and motorsports markets. Its goal is to develop alternative fuel solutions for those markets.


Calstart’s Jared Schnader spoke about disaster recovery with all types of fuel vehicles. There are two types of disasters — natural and man-made — and when it comes to recovery, planning and prevention are key. One takeaway was that if you are in any type of agency, you need to work with private transportation companies and know your Emergency Support Function. These companies can be utilized in disasters and recovery. An idea is to make hurricane-proof or earthquake-proof microgrids. He pointed out that traffic lights are made with hurricane-proof materials, so why can’t we make microgrids the same way?

Argonne National Lab

Argonne National Lab talked about a product which uses telematics. It’s basically a mix of telecommunications with informatics. Knowing how your vehicle operates can help a fleet to track fuel consumption, speed, acceleration. It can also help with training drivers, optimizing routes and schedules, and assessing the suitability of all fuel vehicles.

North American Council on Freight Efficiency

The goal of the NACFE, a nonprofit organization, is to help truck fleets cut costs. It helps look for challenges in fleets and has worked with UPS, JB Hunt, and Pepsi, just to name a few. When it comes to cutting costs, NACFE works with all types of fuels. Dave Schaller, Industry Engagement Director, pointed out that in order to lower costs, one type of fleet may need a type of fuel that another type of fleet may not need. He also pointed out the types of fuels that are rapidly developing in this industry, such as nitrogen, hydrogen, and EVs. He also mentioned that many fleets have a 5-year cycle before new vehicles are bought.

Workforce Development Panel

The panel highlighted something that is a huge issue in the transportation industry, especially when it comes to electric vehicles. We have a national shortage of skilled labor, a shortage of drivers, and an aging workforce. When it comes to this type of training, there are only two universities that are training the labor: West Virginia University and SoCal Training Consortiums. One way to help is to encourage local universities and colleges to reach out to these training consortiums to help bring this type of training more nationwide.

Innovative Rail Technologies

Based out of Tallulah, LA, IRT’s Rick Herndon was there to cover the rail side of things. Cars, trucks, and buses aren’t the only ones looking toward going electric. IRT actually specializes in battery electric vehicles for the rail industry. He also covered disaster preparedness from that point of view and pointed out that these types of planning require partnerships with:

  1. BEV organizations
  2. Utilities
  3. First responders
  4. Community leaders
  5. Communities


ChargePoint’s Dave Aasheim was there and pointed out a comparison of Q2 2018 and Q2 of 2019 in sales of electric vehicles.

clean fuels summit

Louisiana Clean Fuels

Clean Fuels Summit

LCF’s Executive Director, Ann Vail, who invited me along to cover the summit for CleanTechnica, updated us at the summit on the FHWA Corridor — most of the information she’d previously given me and is covered in another one of our articles. She also talked about the EVSE Toolkit, and for those in Louisiana who would like to learn more, you can click here.

NOLA Motorsports Ride & Drive

This was the fun part! I got to hang out with several Tesla owners who showed up and we drove the track. However, due to safety reasons, drivers couldn’t go too fast — just normal speeds as they would on the street. Also, drivers were to drive in a single file line. This was an EV and hybrid test drive, not a race, so that those attending the summit could experience the vehicles.

I rode with Zac Reddix and Emily Federer of the Port of New Orleans in one of their port vehicles, and with Tyler Herman from Louisiana Clean Fuels.



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Johnna Crider

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok

Johnna Crider has 1996 posts and counting. See all posts by Johnna Crider