Rising fuel prices not only spur inflation and deflate wallets, they also remind Floridians of their dependence on foreign oil. Here, too, transformation is under way. Florida is currently seeking to adopt California motor vehicle emission standards, pending approval of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Starting with 2009 models, emissions for automobiles and light trucks would be reduced by 25% and by 18% for sport-utility vehicles.
AutoNation — America’s largest auto retailer — is also promoting fuel efficiency. Its “E-Vehicle” program identifies cars and trucks that get at least 28 mpg or perform 10% better than other similar vehicles. The company also markets F-vehicles that burn flex fuel or ethanol.
Conserving fuel also ranks high with MWH Americas, an environmental consulting, engineering, construction and management company with 170 offices worldwide. In addition to its environmental work, such as Everglades restoration, MWH “made a climate change commitment in 2006, and decided to spend $5 million on a three-year effort to help our clients create more sustainable projects and to reduce our own CO2 footprint mainly by reducing air traffic by our employees around the world,” says Philip Waller, vice president at the company’s Tampa-based Southeast Division.
Hybrid vehicle use is also on the rise. Many of them are provided by John Giliberti’s manufacturing company in Indiantown, Fla., which builds the largest line of plug-in hybrid utility/tractors in the U.S. Meanwhile, Progress Energy is preparing the necessary utility infrastructure to support an expected widespread use of plug-in hybrid electric and other green vehicles.