FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
Cleaner Air On The Horizon With New Joint Efforts By Public, Private Sectors
A consortium with a mission to significantly reduce air pollution in a large part of the central United States was announced today by EPA and the Central States Air Resources Agencies.
The Blue Skyways Collaborative, consisting of federal, state and local government agencies; nonprofits; and industry, met for the first time this week in Kansas City, Kan. It will use public/private partnerships to improve the quality of life in America’s Heartland.
The collaborative includes interests from nine states, Canada, Mexico and private partners seeking voluntary solutions, incentives and shared approaches to reducing diesel and other fuel-related emissions and emissions from the energy sector. The states are Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
EPA announced at the meeting that it plans to commit an estimated $9 million to finance projects beginning this year. The projects will prevent an estimated 2,300 tons of diesel soot from polluting the air in America’s Heartland by adding clean diesel technology to some 10,000 diesel engines based in the Heartland.
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."
Citizens living and working in the Heartland will realize up to $117 million in public health benefits. These include preventing incidences of lung cancer, lung disease, allergic reactions and asthma attacks, all associated with exposure to diesel soot.
Blue Skyways Task Force members are optimistic that their continued efforts will leverage additional public/private money to achieve even greater health benefits. For example, the collaborative anticipates that some $75 million in EPA money will be available for diesel engine retrofits and clean school buses nationwide in 2007. It estimates that another $2 million will be available to encourage renewable energy, energy conservation and energy efficiency projects.
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.”
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.