Casey
Casey

Days after President Barack Obama announced his climate action plan, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said Pennsylvania has the resources to play a big role in the future of clean energy.

The Scranton Democrat on Thursday unveiled a bill, the Clean Vehicle Corridors Act, that would enable the Department of Transportation to create clean vehicle corridors along interstate highways throughout the country.

In those designated spots, clean energy vehicles would be able to refuel and motorists could utilize other amenities found at most rest stops and travel plazas.

The bill would also promote clean fuels and allow states to modify high-occupancy vehicle lanes to accommodate vehicles using clean fuels.

"We need smart policies that will leverage Pennsylvania's vast natural resources," Casey said.

The commonwealth continues to be a leader in energy development, including natural gas, propane, biofuels, clean coal, wind and more, he said.

"We've had tremendous success, but there's more to do," Casey said.

The trend: More businesses and organizations are using alternative energy to fuel their fleets of company vehicles, he said.

Locally, York Waste owner Republic Services has already made the switch to natural gas. The company announced last year it would replace 65 of its 100 diesel-powered garbage trucks with natural gas vehicles.

Rabbit Transit also said it would like to convert some of its 87-bus fleet to natural gas.

State bills introduced two months ago, which were backed by local legislators, also promote conversion to natural gas.

There are about 315,000 clean-energy vehicles on the road, Casey said, and there will be more if the infrastructure is in place.

Without refueling corridors, businesses are limited in how much or how far they can ship products using natural gas trucks, he said.

Clean-energy infrastructure will make it easier for businesses to transport their products and improve their bottom lines while also reducing emissions.

"If we speed our progress, it will be better for the economy," Casey said.

His bill would also create jobs and reduce America's reliance on foreign oil, he said.

"The less we depend on foreign oil, the more secure we will be and the better our economy will be," Casey said. "In the end, it will be a job producer if we take the right steps."

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.