Going Local with Energy Security: Indianapolis
“The politics of energy is warping diplomacy around the world,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, quoting former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a presentation he gave today at the 2015 Alternative Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo in Dallas. Mayor Ballard warned attendees “not to be fooled by recent increases in domestic oil production,” and laid out in stark terms our country’s history of oil dependence, the costs—both financial and human—and how Indianapolis is establishing itself as a model for other cities to follow to break this dependence at the local level. In 2013, Indy launched its “Freedom Fleet” initiative, an ambitious plan to reduce the city’s oil consumption through a multi-tiered upgrade of its municipal fleet, ultimately converting all of the city’s vehicles to non-petroleum fuels by 2025. The first stage of this transition began last year with the acquisition of 425 all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars to replace 525 administrative sedans, a conversion that will save the city nearly $9 million dollars over the next 10 years. At this year’s ACT Expo, Mayor Ballard, a former U.S. Marine, shared all of his reasons for pursuing such an initiative, with hopes of eventually freeing the U.S. economy from the wild swings and inherent volatility of the global oil market. Twenty-five years ago, during Mayor Ballard’s service, the United States invaded Iraq in response to Saddam Hussein’s annexation of neighboring Kuwait, in a military operation designed to maintain the secure flow of oil to the global economy. While booming domestic oil production has certainly changed the landscape since then, the fundamental risks inherent to America’s oil dependence remain powerfully entrenched. Billions of dollars flow annually into the coffers of regimes of oil-exporting countries, and with a price that is set on a global market, the U.S. can do little to curb the effects of a price spike when one inevitably occurs.