Electric car
In 2014, Acadia National Park partnered with the Department of Energy and the Maine Clean Cities Coalition to introduce several alternative and fuel-efficient vehicles to replace inefficient gasoline-powered vehicles.


The National Park Service is working to address climate change through a number of strategies, including sustainable transportation efforts. The NPS is collaborating broadly on these efforts with partners, concessioners, visitors, and surrounding communities. Through this work, the NPS will cut emissions, conserve fuel, better protect the resources under our stewardship, and demonstrate green transportation strategies to National Park System visitors.


Climate Change and Transportation

The transportation sector is responsible for a significant portion of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Highway vehicles release about 1.6 billion metric tons of GHGs into the atmosphere each year, mostly in the form of CO2. Each gallon of gasoline burned creates 20 pounds of CO2, and a typical vehicle produces about five to nine tons per year.1 Gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation contributed about 29 percent of the total energy-related CO2 emissions in the United States in 2012.2

Within the NPS, about 50 percent of GHG emissions are attributable to transportation, including from vehicle fleet and equipment operations, staff commuting, and business travel. When visitors, concessioners, partners, and neighboring communities are taken into account, our GHG footprint multiplies many times over. So any progress we make in cutting our transportation-related emissions will significantly improve our overall GHG footprint.

1 Department of Energy, EPA:
2 EIA:

Be Part of the Progress

Everyone can join the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The approaches listed below are some of our primary strategies, and many can be implemented immediately.

Idle Reduction

Idling a vehicle truly gets you nowhere: It reduces fuel economy, produces air pollutants, and wastes resources. Idling a car uses a quarter to a half gallon of fuel per hour, and idling a heavy-duty vehicle uses about one gallon per hour. Researchers estimate that vehicle idling in the United States wastes about six billion gallons of fuel annually. That translates to 60 million tons of CO2 and $22 billion per year.3

Modern vehicles do not need to idle. Computerized controls in today's vehicles bring the engine up to operating temperature faster when the vehicle is moving than when it is idling. Even on the coldest day, a typical car engine takes less than five minutes to warm up if the car is moving. It takes almost twice as long if the car is just idling. Contrary to some myths out there, turning your car off and back on again does not use more fuel than idling. Idling can actually increase engine wear and shorten vehicle life.4

Fuel-Efficient Driving

Efficient driving practices can improve your fuel economy by more than 30 percent.5 There are a number of tactics you can implement to cut your fuel use and emissions.

  • Drive sensibly: Aggressive driving, including jackrabbit starts, swift acceleration, and hard braking, wastes fuel unnecessarily.
  • Observe the speed limit: Each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed, but fuel economy usually begins to decrease rapidly at speeds higher than 50 mph.
  • Remove excess weight: Don't keep unnecessary items in your vehicle.
  • Keep your engine properly tuned: Delaying maintenance can impact fuel efficiency.
  • Keep tires properly inflated: Check the sticker inside your glove box or door jamb to find the proper pressure (do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire sidewall).
  • Remove rooftop boxes and racks when not in use: Increased drag reduces fuel economy.
  • Combine and coordinate trips: Several short trips use more fuel than one multipurpose trip.

Reducing Vehicle Miles

You can cut emissions and fuel use by reducing the number of miles of vehicle travel. Try carpooling or using alternative modes of transportation, such as walking, bicycling, and public transit. Many of these options are healthier for you, save money, and make for a more enjoyable trip.

4 Department of Energy's Clean Cities. Idling is Not the Way to Go:
5 Department of Energy, EPA.

charging station at HQ
Park Headquarters now has four electric vehicle charging stations


Efficient Driving

Efficient driving practices can improve your fuel economy by more than 30 percent.

Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles

Many alternative fuels and advanced vehicles can significantly reduce emissions, fuel costs, and reliance on petroleum.6 The NPS has teamed up with Clean Cities to support projects that increase the use of these fuels and technologies in parks.

Across the country, parks are operating buses that run on compressed natural gas, biodiesel, or propane;conventional ranger vehicles are being replaced with fuel-efficient hybrid electric vehicles; and plug-in electric vehicles are being deployed in parks in Alaska, Tennessee, California, Maine and other locations.7

Take advantage of the benefits of these fuels and technologies the next time you rent or purchase a vehicle—or maybe even in your existing vehicle. There are now more than 11,000 publicly accessible alternative fueling stations and electric charging stations in the U.S.8

6 Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center:
7 Department of Energy, Clean Cities:
8 Department of Energy, Alternatives Fuels Data Center:


Take the Green Rides Pledge

Join your fellow NPS employees in a commitment to take simple, meaningful steps to cut emissions, reduce petroleum use, and improve fuel economy. Take the Green Rides Pledge at

Lighthouse along rocky coastline

Climate Change and All National Parks

Learn more about how climate change affects all national parks and the treasures they protect.

Solar panels in front of a hill with vegetation


Learn about how the NPS strives to be a model for sustainable resource management.

Last updated: October 16, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME 04609


(207) 288-3338

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