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Introducing the High-Emitting Vehicles Pilot Project

March 22nd, 2017

Our work and reach is always expanding here at Environmental Initiative! We’re excited to announce a new project that will be addressing Minnesota’s air quality by fixing pollution controls on high-emitting passenger vehicles for folks with lower incomes.

What are High-Emitting Vehicles?

Photo credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

It can kind of be a mouthful to say, but high-emitting vehicles are passenger cars and light-duty trucks that emit high levels of pollution into the air. These cars typically have outdated or broken emission controls or exhaust equipment that would typically be identified in vehicle emissions testing programs run in areas that have violated federal air quality standards. This new pilot project aims to repair some of those broken technologies, improving fuel efficiency and reducing air pollution all at the same time.

How does the project work?

Environmental Initiative is partnering with two nonprofit garages that provide low-cost safety and reliability repairs to help improve their clients’ economic security. While funding is available, Cars for Neighbors and The Lift Garage will offer no-cost repairs to three priority emission control systems on the cars of clients that qualify for their services: catalytic converters, evaporative emission control (EVAP) systems, and oxygen sensors. You can read more about these technologies here »

 

 

This is a pilot project, so we’ll be working on a small scale for right now. In this phase, our goal is to repair roughly 40 vehicles identified by our partners. We have high hopes, though! If the pilot is successful, we’ll be raising funds and expand our reach.

The high-emitting vehicles pilot project is one of several efforts underway to help achieve Clean Air Minnesota’s goal of reducing man-made sources of fine particulate matter (soot) and ground level ozone precursor emissions (smog) by 10%.

Clean Air Minnesota is a diverse coalition of air quality leaders convened by Environmental Initiative who are working voluntarily and proactively to reduce air pollution.

Why is this project important?

Minnesota is fortunate enough to have pretty good air quality. However, as the science around air quality advances, health impacts from air pollution are being found at ever lower concentrations. One recent study from the University of Toronto found that 25% of the worst-polluting passenger vehicles may emit up to 90% of vehicle-related air pollution (The Air We Breathe Report 2017). Focusing on vehicles that produce higher levels of pollution is one efficient and cost effective method of addressing air quality concerns in our state.

The great part about this project is that its impacts go far beyond the environmental factors. According to a report published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota Department of Health, lower-income residents of color, children with asthma, and the elderly are often most affected by dirty air. Disadvantaged communities feel the health effects of pollution more acutely, often in the form of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. The Lift Garage and Cars for Neighbors serve these communities that often cannot afford repairs to emission control systems. Every repair that this project makes reduces pollution in close proximity to those most vulnerable to it while furthering our partners’ missions of promoting economic stability through reliable transport.

Overall, the high-emitting vehicles pilot project is a big opportunity to reduce air pollution where it is most felt. At the same time, we can also address sources that produce large amounts of dirty air. It’s a win-win!

We’re really excited to be launching a pilot version of this project and are looking forward to expanding. If you have questions, want to learn more, or are interested in contributing, you can contact me at mweitekamp@en-in.org.

Mikey Weitekamp

POSTED BY:

Senior Project Manager, Environmental Initiative

Breaking Down Silos, Inside and Out, To Keep Our Air Clean

July 26th, 2012

It’s not a regular occurrence – and you never know when things will take this path – but air quality work has spanned Environmental Initiative’s event, dialogue, and action work. Air quality issues started as a policy forum idea, led to stakeholder convening and action work through Clean Air Minnesota and Project Green Fleet, and are now the center of attention in Minnesota’s Clean Air Dialogue.

While we’ve worked on a range of different types of projects, focused on many different environmental issues, Environmental Initiative’s efforts generally fall into three categories – events, dialogue, and action. We try to meet our partners – and the issues they care about – where they are, and know that different environmental problems are suited to different solutions. Some situations call for developing shared understanding; others, for productive discussion; and still others, for action. Our event work brings together people from many perspectives to share reliable information, connect, and create open dialogue. Our dialogue efforts facilitate conversations with environmental leaders to achieve policy and other environmental solutions for a cleaner, stronger Minnesota. In our action work, we implement on-the-ground projects to improve our air, land, and water. It is rare, though, for us to continue work on an issue through all three sectors. That’s where our air quality story begins…

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Bill Droessler

POSTED BY:

Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

School Buses, Snow Plows, and More: Updates from the Project Green Fleet Team

September 15th, 2011

Today’s post brings you clean air updates from our whole Project Green Fleet staff team – Bill Droessler, Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning; Andrea Robbins, Manager of Environmental Projects; and Eric David, Senior Environmental Project Associate.

Frost warnings this week… Really? Two days after nearly hitting 90 degrees, that is twisted Minnesota fall weather. And more importantly, with fall comes school buses, and snow plows not far behind.

Since 2006, Project Green Fleet has worked with many school districts and bus companies to install pollution control equipment on nearly 3,000 school buses (with hundreds more in the works).  We are completing retrofits with nearly all of the larger school bus fleets in the state and are focusing on recruiting and working with many smaller, more rural school districts and fleets across Minnesota. Our latest information shows that there are fewer eligible buses than originally estimated. There are bus headlights at the end of the tunnel: we likely will be making plans next year for an end game to school bus retrofits.

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Bill Droessler

POSTED BY:

Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning

Smog Blog (or: Is the fourth time the charm?)

July 29th, 2011

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was scheduled this month to release new standards for ground-level ozone, or smog. This release has been rescheduled three times. According to an EPA statement, the Agency “looks forward to finalizing this standard shortly.” “Shortly” is not defined.

Without being too legalistic or esoteric (or boring), some background may help.

The Bush Administration tightened the smog standards in March, 2008. These new standards were outside of the range and less stringent than the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee recommended.  Multiple lawsuits were subsequently filed; some suits arguing that the standards should be strengthened and some suits arguing that the standards were too restrictive. The federal courts consolidated the suits, which were proceeding when in 2009 the current Administration announced that it would reconsider the smog standards. Basically, the EPA requested that the consolidated lawsuits be put on hold, “while EPA officials that are appointed by the new Administration  . . . determine whether the standards should be maintained, modified or otherwise reconsidered.”

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Bill Droessler

POSTED BY:

Senior Director of Strategic Project Planning
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