This article is a featured guest post and submission to the 2023 Aii student OpEd scholarship competition.


This summer, the US Secretary of Energy, Jennifer Granholm, embarked on an unforgettable road trip from Charlotte, NC to Memphis, TN[1]. Granholm was determined to complete her 619-mile journey by driving ‘clean’ in an electric vehicle (EV). EVs only last 110-300 miles on a full charge, so an advance team was deployed in a fleet of gasoline powered vehicles to ensure that Granholm stayed powered throughout her eco-conscious journey. At some point her team realized there wasn’t going to be another charging opportunity for a while, so they visited a station to save Granholm a spot. Fortunately for them, 3 of the 4 available chargers were functional, and they were able to block off one of them for Granholm, so that she wouldn’t need to wait in line to charge her car on such a scorching summer day.

However, this proved unfortunate for the car behind them– a young family with a baby, who urgently needed to charge their EV. Understandably irate, the parents contacted law enforcement, who were unable to assist them in their heated situation. The whole spectacle highlighted the US’s lack of infrastructure to support a mass transition to EVs, and flies in the face of the Biden administration’s daunting goal for half of all new car sales to be electric or hybrid by 2030[2]. The pressure to switch stems from rising concerns over global warming, the devastating effects of which have been exacerbated by large CO2 emissions. 

In one recent study by the Pew Research center, 69%[3] of Gen Z respondents expressed anxiety caused by interacting with climate change content online, but only 32%[4] have taken steps towards improving the problem within the last year. Miami Dade County[5] projects that by 2040, sea levels will be 10-17 inches greater than they had been only 40 years prior. How long before Florida Atlantic University becomes Florida Atlantis University? What can Palm Beach County (PBC) do to turn things around, or at the very least, slow it down by 2040?

The EPA estimated that in 2021, as much as 28% of all US CO2 emissions were attributed to transportation[6]. A successful initiative for transitioning PBC into a cleaner transportation system would incorporate the following elements: reliability, education, affordability, community, and honesty—or REACH for short. 



The first problem when it comes to EVs is a matter of charging them, as illustrated in the aforementioned road trip fiasco. If PBC were abundant in chargers that were both fast and reliable, residents would consider EVs to be a more practical option for themselves. Although making a deal with FPL to install chargers connected to their power grids may seem tempting[7], I would strongly advise against it, as 67.4% of their energy is derived from natural gas, and only 4.1% from solar power[8]. Can we honestly say we’re using clean energy when we’re paying someone else to get their hands dirty for us? Instead, a more impactful solution may be striking a deal with Tesla to offer more of their solar powered Superchargers around the county (equipped with adaptors permanently installed on some, for compatibility with other EVs), so that we can truly drive clean.


Education & Affordability

The next roadblock concerns affordability of EVs themselves for the average family considering making the switch. Fortunately, Tesla[9] announced that they will be releasing economy cars in 2024, in the ballpark of around $25,000, making them a competitive option compared to gas cars. Additionally, NPR[10] reported that by January 2024, receiving the federal tax credit for purchasing an EV (as much as $7,500) will be substantially faster and more convenient than years prior. The only missing puzzle piece would be a matter of educating the public about the affordable EV options and about the federal financial incentive to make the switch. Billboards promoting this information should be erected along PBC’s busiest roadways. We should also have a directory on our county website displaying this information, with different translation options available, as well as contacts listed to help answer the public’s questions. 



There needs to be a reform in our public transportation systems to make these services more attractive to everyone in PBC. Our bussing system, the PalmTran[11], is notoriously slow, often unreliable, and is largely used by people who don’t have any alternative means of transportation. Additionally, the Tri-Rail[12] only travels north and south, which complicates matters for people needing to go east and west. Making public transportation a more seamless experience encourages more people to use it, which will serve as an effective way to reduce our CO2 emissions. Acquiring more Palm Tran Connection vans, and expanding eligibility[13] for this service to include higher education students and families traveling with minors, would be a great place to start improving this existing community resource.



Lastly, we must acknowledge that we won’t become a carbon-free county overnight. This is where honesty comes into play. Moving forward, we should take accountability for our remaining CO2 emissions by committing to partnering with local companies that offset carbon[14], such as Boca Raton based company Carbon Limit[15], who sequestrates carbon[16] in concrete. This way we can make up for the CO2 that we will inevitably produce during our transition process and support local businesses with goals that align with our own.


Written by Vanessa Jimenez, student at Florida Atlantic University


The Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure (Aii) is an independent, national research and educational organization. An innovative think tank, Aii explores the intersection of economics, law, and public policy in the areas of climate, damage prevention, energy, infrastructure, innovation, technology, and transportation.




  1. Domonoske, Camila. “Electric Cars Have a Road Trip Problem, Even for the Secretary of Energy.” NPR, September 10, 2023.
  2. “Fact Sheet: President Biden Announces Steps to Drive American Leadership Forward on Clean Cars and Trucks.” The White House, August 5, 2021.
  3. Tyson, Alec. “Gen Z, Millennials Stand out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement with Issue.” Pew Research Center Science & Society, May 26, 2021.,addressing%20climate%20change
  4. Tyson, Alec. “Gen Z, Millennials Stand out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement with Issue.” Pew Research Center Science & Society, May 26, 2021.,older%20adults%20(21%25)
  5. Sea Level Rise and Flooding. Accessed November 27, 2023.
  6. Sources of greenhouse gas emissions | US EPA. Accessed November 27, 2023.–%20The%20transportation%20sector%20generates%20the%20largest%20share%20of%20greenhouse%20gas%20emissions
  7. Press releases | West Palm Beach, FL. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  8. Advancing Florida’s Clean Energy Future – FPL. Accessed November 28, 2023.
  9. McElligott, Suzanne. “Tesla Model 2 Expected in 2025 | U.S. News.” U.S. News & World Report, January 27, 2023.,recession%2C”%20it%20said
  10. Domonoske, Camila. “Getting a $7,500 Tax Credit for an Electric Car Will Soon Get a Lot Easier.” NPR, October 6, 2023.,customer%27s%20tax%20bill
  11. “Home.” PalmTran, November 15, 2023.
  12. “Home.” Tri-Rail. Accessed November 29, 2023.
  13. Applicant eligibility manual – PalmTran. Accessed November 30, 2023.
  14. Dierker, Benjamin. “A Sustainable Energy Model.” A Sustainable Energy Model: Ensuring Robust Energy, Resilient Infrastructure, and Climate Balance, January 2022.
  15. “Home.” Carbon Limit. Accessed November 29, 2023.
  16. 16. Dierker, Benjamin. Pathways to Decarbonizing Heat: Building a Holistic Framework for Evaluating and Ranking Decarbonization Strategies for Industrial Heat in Light of Economic Efficiency, Public Policy, Timing Readiness, and Infrastructure Realities., September 2023.