Reducing air pollution in a large part of the central United States is the goal of a consortium of federal and state agencies. The EPA and the Central States Air Resources Agencies announced a meeting this week to improve the quality of life in America’s Heartland.
The consortium is to be known as the Blue Skyways Collaborative, as it met for the first time in Kansas City, Kan. He EPA is to empower public/private partnerships made up of federal, state and local government agencies, nonprofits, and industry.
The initiative extends beyond the borders of the USA, into Canada, Mexico. Various interests from nine states and private partners will seek voluntary solutions, incentives and shared approaches to achieve their goals. They want to reduce energy emissions, including from diesel and other fuels.
The nine states in the project are Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
The EPA is providing $9 million in financing to get projects off the ground this year.
The EPA says it aims to prevent around 2,300 tons of diesel soot from polluting the air in America’s Heartland. The aim is to retrofit clean diesel technology to approximatelt 10,000 diesel engines in those nine states.
The EPA formed the plan to leverage public and private resources, sharing technology and pooling finance to get the job done.
EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford said, “The partnerships formed through this collaborative will enable us to leverage resources to reduce diesel emissions. We will be able to share technology and pool finances for greater reductions than are possible through individual efforts.”
Region 6 Administrator Richard E. Greene said, “With 50 million people living, working and playing in the nine central states of this collaborative, it is vital to improve the air quality through green energy innovations. Pollution reduction from vehicles, as well as other methods of transportation, will benefit the health of residents living in this area.”
As well as making the cleaner, there will be public health benefits. The EPA estimates savings of $117 million. Savings include prevention of lung cancer, lung disease, allergic reactions and asthma attacks that are caused or exacerbated by exposure to diesel soot.
The Blue Skyways Task Force expects around $75 million provided by the EPA in 2007, for a nationwide program. That program plans to retrofit diesel engines and provide clean school buses. In addition, $2 million extra will encourage renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency projects around the nation.
Annette Sharp, director of the Central States Air Resources Agencies, said, “CenSARA, on behalf of the state air directors and the leadership of local air quality environmental programs, is committed to leading the way in creatively and effectively reducing air emissions. Our goal is to increase the number of counties in compliance with all national ambient air quality standards.”
U.S. Evironmental Protection Agency issued a press release, which noted that “The Blue Skyways Collaborative plans to develop projects to reduce air pollution emissions along major transportation corridors and in various sectors, including air, water and rail transportation; on-road diesel vehicles; and heavy off-road equipment. Another area of focus will be alternative and renewable energy.”