Archive for the ‘News’ Category

USDA Announces $100 Million for American Biofuels Infrastructure

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the upcoming Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP). The purpose of this program is to provide grant funds to encourage private investment and expand the availability of higher blends of ethanol, and biodiesel. Providing grant funds to cover a portion of the cost of installing high-blend fueling infrastructure and for building out distribution facilities will decrease out-of-pocket expenses and enable businesses and other public or private entities to invest in infrastructure to sell and/or dispense higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel.

Biofuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, that are produced locally decrease dependence on fossil fuel imports and reduce vehicle emissions. There are multiple constraints that place limitations on the utilization of large quantities of higher biofuel blends at the consumer level. Due to these ongoing limitations, most stations are only able to offer E10 (10% ethanol/90% gasoline) for gasoline users and up to B20 (20% biodiesel/80% diesel) for diesel users. By increasing consumer options with sustainable fuel selections, the program supports local biofuel producers, farmers and rural communities, while improving air quality and combating climate change.

The USDA plans to release $86 million for the implementation of higher blends of ethanol, and an estimated $14 million for further implementation of higher blends of biodiesel. Applications incorporating recommendations provided in the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity are encouraged to support the quality of life in rural communities. HBIIP funds are intended for distribution facilities, public and private fueling stations, retail convenience stores, fleet facilities, terminal operations, home heating oil distribution centers, and other similar amenities. The USDA is requiring one application per applicant for a one-year grant period but will allow proposed investments for multiple locations. Important items to note about the eligibility criteria have been pulled from the Notice of Funds Availability for the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) for Fiscal Year 2020 and are outlined below. We will continue to update you with important information as the program details progress.

  1. Funding Restrictions: There is no minimum HBIIP grant award, and the maximum HBIIP grant award is not to exceed $5,000,000. HBIIP grants are awarded on a cost share basis for no more than 50 percent of the total eligible project costs. No HBIIP grant award may exceed the amount calculated as 50% of total eligible project costs or the maximum award amount of $5,000,000.
  2. Underground Storage Tanks and Systems (USTs): Fueling stations/locations/facilities constructed during the grant period are not allowed to receive HBIIP grant funds for underground storage tanks. Equipment such as fuel dispensers/pumps and other parts for underground storage tank systems that are available in traditional and higher blend compatible models may be considered for funding.
  3. Notice for Owners of Fewer Stations: A Targeted Assistance Goal is available for applicants owning the fewest number of transportation fueling stations/locations, but at least owning one. The Targeted Assistance is intended for applicants owning 10 fueling stations/locations or fewer. The USDA has established this assistance in order to distribute a portion of program funds across diverse geographic areas, and those located in underserved areas.
  4. Cost Sharing or Matching: The USDA has established a matching fund (cost-sharing) minimum requirement of $1 for every $1 in grant funds provided. Matching funds, in addition to grant funds, must equal total eligible project costs, and may be accepted in the form of cash or in-kind contributions. Matching funds can only be used for eligible project costs, including contributions exceeding the minimum amount required. The applicant is responsible for acquiring the remainder of total eligible project costs not covered by grant funds. In-kind contributions by the applicant cannot be used to meet matching fund requirements.

The USDA plans to hold a webinar focused on HBIIP orientation and enrollment on May 12, a webinar focused on HBIIP fueling station and fleet facility on May 19, and a webinar focused on HBIIP fuel distribution facilities on May 26. For more information and to register click here.

The American Lung Association was involved in the USDA HBIIP grant of 2016. It played a major role in helping to submit eligible applications for the state and individual station owners. We were able to help the state of Illinois receive over $12 million dollars in grant funding. The USDA will begin accepting applications on May 15th.

To view the full formal announcement released by the USDA, please click here. For program questions, please contact Senior Manager, Bailey Arnold via email or call (217) 241-9011. For technical questions regarding the grant, please contact Clean Air Specialists, Tara Brooks via email or call (217) 718-6698, or Shannon Haines via email or call (217) 718-6669.

5/12/2020

Drivers Should Consider Ethanol Fuel to Reduce Pollution

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

Higher blends of ethanol in gasoline help in fight against Covid-19 by improving air quality and lung health.

Cleaner air could help us in our defense against the COVID-19 virus.

A recent study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health[1] concluded that there is a significant correlation between high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) emissions from cars and increased vulnerability of citizens contracting the COVID-19 virus. This link between pollution and COVID-19 deaths was previously documented by a group of Italian researchers[2] as well.

PM 2.5 emissions are very fine particle size pollutants which the lungs have a particularly hard time filtering, thus contributing to diminished respiratory health. Inhaling fine particulate matter can affect the lungs and the heart.

People with pre-existing lung and heart diseases, children, and the elderly are at a higher risk from complications resulting from exposure to particulate matter. Those living in urban areas with large numbers of vehicles and traffic congestion face higher exposure than people living in suburban neighborhoods, or more rural areas.

In addition, low income, African American, and Latinx communities are often exposed at a disproportionate level, resulting in higher rates of asthma and lung disease when compared to other communities.

For the past 25 years, Chicago Area Clean Cities has worked with commercial and government fleets to reduce air pollution from the transportation sector. Improvements in engine technologies have led to reductions in fine particulate matter, but we can do better by moving to alternative fuels, such as higher blends of ethanol.

The Harvard Study corroborates and reinforces previous research conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago which reflects the benefits higher blends of ethanol has on reducing PM 2.5 emissions from vehicles. This work was done with help from The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, a leading cancer research department and part of the Masonic Cancer Center.

Dr. Steffen Mueller, PhD, Principal Economist for the Energy Resources Center at University of Illinois at Chicago, found that increasing the blend of ethanol beyond 10 percent up to 25 percent significantly reduces cancer-causing aromatic emissions and PM 2.5. The Harvard study takes the next step and directly links high levels of these dangerous particulates and vulnerability for contracting COVID-19.

By overlaying an atmospheric emissions model over census data, the UIC study[3] documented ethanol’s ability to reduce PM 2.5 concentrations. This was particularly evident in largely African American and Latinx neighborhoods near Chicago’s expressway corridors.

“The UIC Study may in hindsight provide insights into a potential link between the much higher mortality rate from COVID-19 deaths in PM 2.5 polluted areas documented in the Harvard Study and the recent data on high COVID-19 death rates for minorities in the Chicago and Northwest Indiana area,” Mueller said, “Obviously, PM 2.5 emissions are just one important variable besides pre-existing health conditions and other factors that impact Covid-19.”

Healthy lungs are our first defense against this virus and other respiratory ailments. Reducing PM 2.5 emissions through alternative fuels, such as higher blends of ethanol, can help lessen our vulnerability. If you cannot breathe, nothing else matters.

E15, a 15 percent blend of ethanol, is approved for year-round use in 2001 and newer passenger vehicles by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help reduce emissions. It is time now to consider the use of alternative fuels, like E15 and higher blends of ethanol, for the health benefits in improved air quality for Chicago and for our communities.

When it is time to start driving again, the people of Illinois should consider choosing ethanol fuels at the pump to benefit air quality and improve lung health.

With people dying from Covid-19, we have to act now to take simple actions like this to help win the battle against future pandemics.

By John Walton and Angela Tin

John Walton is chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. Angela Tin, who serves on our coalition’s board, is national senior director for Clean Air Initiatives with the American Lung Association. Both organizations are working to reduce air pollution in the transportation sector.

5/8/2020

[1]  Xiao Wu MS, Rachel C. Nethery PhD, M. Benjamin Sabath MA, Danielle Braun PhD, Francesca Dominici PhD;“Exposure to air pollution and COVID-19 mortality in the United States” (Updated April 5, 2020);All authors are part of the Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

[2] Edoardo Conticini, Bruno Frediani, Dario Caro; “Can atmospheric pollution be considered a co-factor in extremely high level of SARS-CoV-2 lethality in Northern Italy?” Environmental Pollution, 2020, ISSN 0269-7491, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2020.114465.

[3] Mueller, Steffen; “Research Update: PM2.5 Reductions from ethanol blends in gasoline in the context of the recent COVID-19 death rate link to pollution”; April 28, 2020; The University of Illinois at Chicago Energy Resources Center; http://www.erc.uic.edu/biofuels-bioenergy/research/

 

Chicago Now Ranks 16th Most Polluted City in the U.S.

Monday, April 20th, 2020

CHICAGO, April 20, 2020 – The American Lung Association’s 2020 “State of the Air” report revealed that Chicago ranks the 16th most polluted city in the nation for ozone pollution, which is worse than last year’s report where the city was ranked 18th most polluted. The 21st annual report found that Chicago had a weighted average of 19.2 unhealthy ozone days between 2016-2018, which is significantly higher than 14.0 days from last year’s report.

“Chicagoans should be aware that we’re breathing more unhealthy air compared to last year’s report, mostly driven by vehicle emissions and extreme heat as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Angela Tin, national senior director for clean air initiatives for the Lung Association and a member of Chicago Area Clean Cities’ executive board. “In addition to challenges here in Chicago, the 21st ‘State of the Air’ report highlights that nearly half of Americans live in counties that had unhealthy ozone or particle pollution in 2016-2018.”

The annual “State of the Air” report tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. This year’s report covers the most recent quality-assured data available collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2016-2018.

Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution, also called soot. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

Ozone Pollution in Chicago

  • Grade: F
  • Rank: 16th most polluted
  • 2 unhealthy ozone days

Compared to the 2019 report, Chicago experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report.

“Ozone pollution can harm even healthy people, but is particularly dangerous for children, older adults and people with lung diseases like COPD or asthma,” said Tin. “Breathing ozone-polluted air can trigger asthma attacks in both adults and children with asthma, which can land them in the doctor’s office or the emergency room. Ozone can even shorten people’s lives.”

This report documents that warmer temperatures brought by climate change are making ozone more likely to form and harder to clean up. Significantly more people suffered unhealthy ozone pollution in the 2020 report than in the last three “State of the Air” reports.

Particle Pollution in Chicago

  • Short-Term Particle Pollution
    • Grade: B
    • Rank: 44th most polluted
    • 7 unhealthy air quality days
  • Year-Round Particle Pollution
    • Grade: Pass
    • Rank: 20th most polluted

The 2020 report also found Chicago had the lowest levels ever of both year-round particle pollution and short-term particle pollution.

“Particle pollution is made of soot or tiny particles that come from coal-fired power plants, diesel emissions, wildfires and wood-burning devices. These particles are so small that they can lodge deep in the lungs and can even enter the bloodstream. It can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes and cause lung cancer,” Tin said.

While the report examined data from 2016-2018, this 21st annual report online provides information on air pollution trends back to the first report. Learn more about Chicago’s rankings, as well as air quality across Illinois and the nation, in the 2020 “State of the Air” report at Lung.org/sota.

Chicago’s City Council Approves Electric Vehicle Readiness Mandate

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

CHICAGO, March 16, 2020 – The City of Chicago City Council Zoning Committee approved an ordinance requiring all new commercial buildings with 30 or more parking spaces and new residential buildings with five or more units to have at least 20 percent of their parking spaces “Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment-Ready.”

To learn more, please read this story in the Chicago Sun Times.

Forest Preserves of Cook County Named Clean Fuels Champion by Clean Cities

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

CHICAGO, Dec. 5, 2019 – The Forest Preserves of Cook County, one of the largest forest preserve systems in the nation, has been named the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition’s 2019 Clean Fuels Champion for its efforts to improve the environment and air quality.

In the Forest Preserves’ fleet, 20 vehicles and 40 large riding rotary mowers operate on propane, a fuel that has lower emissions than gasoline and diesel. As a nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting clean-vehicles and clean-air solutions for transportation, Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The coalition gives the award annually to the organization or individual that it believes has had the most impact on reducing emissions from transportation throughout the year.

“Our team is thrilled to be recognized for this honor by Chicago Area Clean Cities,” said Tom Thompson, maintenance supervisor for the Forest Preserves of Cook County. “Most people already think of the Forest Preserves as being green. However, our efforts over many years to make our vehicles and equipment green helps advance our Sustainability & Climate Resiliency Plan, which aims to address serious environmental issues that threaten the Forest Preserves and people of Cook County.”

The Forest Preserves was awarded for its efforts at Chicago Area Clean Cities’ Annual Meeting. The award has been given annually since 2001 to an individual, organization or business that champions the promotion of alternative fuels and technologies to reduce vehicle emissions and reduce petroleum usage. Recent award recipients include Pace Suburban Bus, the American Lung Association, Testa Produce and Ozinga Bros, Inc.

“The Forest Preserves of Cook County is an example of what’s possible when it comes to protecting the environment,” said John W. Walton, chair of the Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition. “Their steps to green their operations is an example for all who want to contribute to a better world.

“We’re also recognizing the Forest Preserves’ team for their efforts in partnering with us to promote clean vehicles,” Walton added. “Their team has provided facilities for our workshops and volunteers for events. They’ve worked hard to get people behind the wheel of electric vehicles and helped the Illinois Alternative Fuel Alliance hold education sessions for lawmakers in Springfield. Their leadership is to be commended.”

The Forest Preserves of Cook County, with nearly 70,000 acres of property, is one of the largest forest preserve systems in the nation. Maintaining all that green space requires a lot of vehicles and fuel. To mow the landscape in and around picnic groves and other recreational public spaces, the agency maintains a fleet of 40 riding mowers, 90 large tractors with flail mower attachments, 55 push mowers and 100 trimmers, heavily used April through October.

In 2013, the Forest Preserves began the conversion of its mowers to propane power, which has significantly lowered the environmental impact of its grove maintenance. “By converting our vehicles and mowers to clean power, we have been successful in making them both environmentally friendly and fuel efficient,” Thompson said. “This is a benefit to our community, the environment and a value to taxpayers.”

At the awards ceremony, CACC also named its Green Leadership Award winners. Thompson was awarded for Leadership in Public Service for his more than 30 years of service to the Forest Preserves and his role in the preserves’ sustainability initiatives. Others awarded include the Village of Oak Park, Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Stop, Ozinga and the Village of Downers Grove. Each organization was recognized for its successful use of vehicles with alternative fuels and clean-vehicle technologies.

About the Forest Preserves of Cook County

Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.

About Chicago Area Clean Cities

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Chicago Area Clean Cities is a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting clean-vehicles and clean-air solutions for transportation in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. CACC is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuels and clean-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel efficiency and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To get involved, visit ChicagoCleanCities.org.

 

News Media Contacts:

Joe Koenig
Chicago Area Clean Cities
708-613-5005

Carl Vogel
Forest Preserves of Cook County
708-906-1184

Chicago Area Clean Cities Names Green Leadership Award Winners

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

CHICAGO, Dec. 5, 2019 – Chicago Area Clean Cities Coalition (CACC) today announced its 2019 Leadership Award winners at its annual December Meeting and Reception held at The Great Escape in Schiller Park. The awards are given annually to organizations and individuals that take actions to locally reduce petroleum consumption and improve air quality, such as by using cleaner-burning alternative-fuel vehicles, electric vehicles or other advanced technologies.

This year’s winners include: Village of Oak Park, Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza, Ozinga and Village of Downers Grove. Tom Thompson, maintenance supervisor for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, was recognized for his Leadership in Public Service. Chicago resident Neda Deylami also was awarded a Community Leadership Award for her efforts to help Chicago transition to environmentally friendly electric vehicles.

“The individuals and organizations we are honoring are terrific examples for others to follow to learn about the advantages of clean-vehicle and alternative-fuel technologies,” said Samantha Bingham, coordinator, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “Their efforts serve the Chicago community by reducing harmful emissions from vehicles. That helps to reduce air pollution, making the air we breathe cleaner and healthier for all.”

CACC Leadership Award winners by category include: 

Best Performing Municipality: The Village of Oak Park 

The Village of Oak Park is located eight miles from the Chicago Loop. The village is taking many steps to lower the carbon footprint and emissions of its vehicle fleet.

Oak Park recently installed five electric vehicle charging stations at its village hall on Madison Street. There are three stations with six ports for charging municipal vehicles and two charging stations with four ports for charging by EV owners. Along with the installation, the municipality deployed five new all-electric 2019 Nissan LEAFs.

Oak Park, with more than 50,000 residents, is a member of CACC and the B20 Club and is a long-time user of low-emissions biodiesel fuel for the village’s diesel fleet vehicles. B20 generates fewer tailpipe emissions and reduces lifecycle carbon emissions.

The village also expanded its use of telematics to coach and educate fleet drivers on proper usage of equipment by decreasing idling, reducing speeding and excessive acceleration, and decreasing use of fossil fuels. It also added a hybrid-electric bucket truck, which allows use of the bucket with a battery instead of the vehicle’s engine.

Oak Park’s green fleet is one of many sustainability efforts underway in the village.

“Oak Park has always been at the forefront as a green community,” said Ken Crowley, superintendent of fleet services for the Village of Oak Park. “We place a high priority on environmental stewardship. We do everything we can to keep the air we breathe as clean as we can, and our use of biodiesel and electric vehicles are very important initiatives.”

Leadership in Public Service: Tom Thompson, Forest Preserves of Cook County

Tom Thompson is the maintenance supervisor for the Forest Preserves of Cook County, one of the largest forest preserve districts in the nation at 70,000 acres. Thompson, who has worked with the preserves for 30 years, has led the Forest Preserves’ efforts to make their vehicles and mowers green as a part of an ongoing plan to make operations as environmentally friendly and economical as possible.

Maintaining all that green space requires a lot of vehicles and fuel. To mow the landscape in and around picnic groves and other recreational public spaces, the agency maintains a fleet of 40 riding mowers, 90 large tractors, 55 push mowers and 100 trimmers. The Forest Preserves recently converted 20 vehicles and 40 large riding mowers to propane, a fuel that has lower emissions than gasoline and diesel.

“Tom is a true leader and a steward of the environment,” said John W. Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “His leadership to green the Forest Preserves’ operations is to be commended and is an example for all who what to contribute to a better world.”

At the awards program, CACC also awarded the Forest Preserves of Cook County its most prestigious award, naming the 2019 Clean Fuels Champion, an award given annually since 2001 to an individual, organization or business that champions sustainable transportation solutions. 

Community Leadership Award: Neda Deylami

Chicago resident Neda Deylami devotes much of her personal time to planning educational EV events in communities throughout the Chicago area and Illinois. She has organized and participated in over a dozen events at public libraries, city halls, sustainability fairs and other outreach events, which altogether were attended by hundreds of people in 2019.

This year, Deylami founded an electric vehicle community group, “Chicago for EVs.” The group is comprised mostly of EV owners but is open to all who want to lend a hand in advancing the local EV market.

With support from other EV owners, Deylami has worked with aldermen and city officials in Chicago, municipal officials in the suburbs and officials and representatives in Springfield, advocating for policies that would promote wider adoption of EVs. She has written several policy and research papers to promote the growth of EVs, which have influenced legislative initiatives in Chicago and the state of Illinois. In her advocacy efforts, she has focused in particular on policies that would expand access to EVs among groups who currently face the most obstacles in accessing sustainable transportation, such as renters, lower income people, and minorities.

“Neda is an exceptional EV owner who is dedicated to making adoption easier for future EV drivers and educating communities about the benefits of driving electric,” Bingham said. “She’s one of CACC’s star volunteers, having lent a hand on multiple occasions when the coalition has sought assistance for outreach events. She’s gone above and beyond to assist Chicago-area communities become EV ready, and she deserves this recognition.”

Above and Beyond Award: Ozinga

Ozinga is a fourth-generation, family-owned company providing ready mix concrete, building materials, logistics and alternative fuel solutions since 1928. Ozinga has more than 200 ready mix concrete mixers running on renewable natural gas in the Chicagoland area.

As of Spring 2019, all Ozinga natural gas fueling stations pump renewable landfill gas. With RNG, Ozinga’s fleet produces over 4,000,000 Kgs fewer well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable diesel fleet every year. Additionally, Ozinga can now help other organizations make the switch to RNG. As a part of station updates, Ozinga also added more electric vehicle charging stations to both the Mokena and Chinatown offices and yards.

Additionally, for the first time in company history, Ozinga is purchasing more than 6,000 megawatts of Illinois wind energy per year as of May 2019. The new electricity supply contract will use Illinois wind to provide power to Ozinga locations throughout Illinois. The 6,000 MWH/ year of wind energy represents more than 25 percent of the company’s electricity usage. The renewable wind power Ozinga is purchasing through a new contract is the same price as any other power. After this current contract expires in 2021, Ozinga is planning to expand usage of green power. Wind energy is one of the most cost-effective clean fuel sources available. It also boasts less than 2 percent of the levelized CO2 emissions per kWh than traditional coal plants. In fact, the amount of wind energy Ozinga is purchasing this year is equivalent to the energy required to power 740 homes or 10 million miles driven by an average passenger vehicle.

These, among other initiatives, were initiated by the Ozinga Energy team. With renewable natural gas having a negative carbon footprint, it became a priority to implement in 2019. Due to the deregulated nature of Illinois’ electric markets, Ozinga can sign contracts that lock in wind energy rates for several years, minimize risk from price fluctuations, and have a more consistent energy budget. So far, Ozinga has purchased over 2,500 MWHs of wind energy since the Wind contract started and dispensed over 750,000 GGEs of renewable natural gas.

Service Station of the Year: Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza

The Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza was one of the first, family-owned and operated, independent truck plazas in the United States to start selling B11 biodiesel in 2006.

After experiencing firsthand the economical, physical, and environmental benefits that biodiesel was having for truck drivers, their trucks, and the environment, Robin Puthusseril, vice president and co-owner of the Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza, along with her father John Puthusseril, decided to take things to a higher level. In 2013, they invested more than half a million dollars to build the infrastructure at their truck plaza to begin blending and selling higher blends of premium biodiesel to all their customers.

Today, B11-B20 premium biodiesel is blended and sold year-round to all their customers at every diesel dispenser. The Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza also offers fleet customers bulk B100 biodiesel for purchase, if needed.

In 2018, Robin testified before the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment regarding Advanced Biofuels under the Renewable Fuel Standard. She explained why biodiesel is good for the country because it helps displace petroleum-based fuels and lowers the cost of fuel for all Americans. She also encouraged Congress to continue to incentivize retailers like herself so she and others can continue the work and impact that has only started.

“Robin is a true advocate for the performance and environmental benefits of biodiesel fuel,” said John Walton. “She’s making a huge impact in getting Class 8 truckers to reduce their emissions.” 

Plugged-In Public Safety Award: Village of Downers Grove

The Village of Downers Grove, a municipality of nearly 50,000 people located in the western suburbs of Chicago, runs 83 percent of the village’s fleet on some form of alternative fuel. These alternatives included biodiesel (B20), E-85 (ethanol), compressed natural gas (CNG), propane, solar power, and hybrid combinations. In 2019, the village began using its first plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. The vehicles, used by the Police Department’s Community Support Officers, are averaging over 75 miles-per-gallon, replacing Ford Crown Victoria models that only averaged 14 miles-per-gallon.

The implementation of green initiatives like the use of cleaner, more efficient alternative fuels achieves the village’s strategic plan goal of being “a steward of financial and environmental sustainability.” Using alternative fuels reduces the environmental impact of fleet operations and is more cost-effective than traditional petroleum-based products.

About Chicago Area Clean Cities

Chicago Area Clean Cities, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting clean transportation in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. The coalition’s membership is comprised of federal, state and local governments, corporations, small businesses, and individuals. These stakeholders come together to share information and resources, educate the public, help craft public policy, and collaborate on projects that reduce petroleum use.

The coalition is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago region, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To get involved, visit chicagocleancities.org.

Top Photo By: Lloyd Degrane/Energy News Network

 

News Media Contact:

Joe Koenig
708-613-5005

 

 

Midwest EVOLVE Gets ‘Butts in Seats’ during National Drive Electric Week

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

SAINT PAUL, Minn., Sept. 4, 2019 – Thanks to a seven-state project led by the American Lung Association, Midwest consumers have a chance to test drive electric vehicles during National Drive Electric Week, Sept. 14-22, and throughout September.

The program, called Midwest EVOLVE, emphasizes the clean-air benefits, cost savings, and fun of plug-in electric cars. The vehicles are being showcased in seven Midwestern states: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

More than two dozen events are being held in states that are part of Midwest EVOLVE – which stands for Electric Vehicle Opportunities: Learning, eVents, Experience – a partnership between the American Lung Association and Clean Cities coalitions in the Midwest.

At Midwest EVOLVE events, consumers, government officials, fleets, and dealer personnel have an opportunity to learn about the advantages of electric vehicles and the ease of charging them at home, at work, or at public charging stations.

“At Midwest EVOLVE events, we get butts in seats, so drivers can experience EVs,” said Lisa Thurstin, coordinator of Twin Cities Clean Cities, which oversees Midwest EVOLVE. “That’s the first step for many people to consider driving electric, taking a test drive. Once you do that, you realize they can be a great fit for your daily driving needs.

“EVs have outstanding performance and require less maintenance,” Thurstin said. “They also are better for the environment, clean-air, and lung health, and that’s what’s driving this for us, to help make the air we breathe cleaner and to help make this a better world.”

During the month of September, events being held in the Midwest include:

Midwest EVOLVE has 60 partners, including Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago Area Clean Cities, automakers, utilities, state agencies, municipalities, dealerships, and dealer associations.

Over the past three years, 175,000 people have participated in Midwest EVOLVE. The project and its partners have held or participated in more than 250 events across the Midwest, and more than 7,000 people have taken a test drive of plug-in electric vehicles at Midwest EVOLVE events. Twenty percent of consumers who attend an EVOLVE event purchase a plug-in electric or hybrid-electric vehicle within six months.

“There are dozens of events in the Midwest being held by Clean Cities coalitions and our project partners,” Thurstin said.“Not only are we hosting events during National Drive Electric Week, but we’re holding events throughout the entire month. We’re calling it ‘Drive Electric Month.’ Check out our EVOLVE website to find an event near you.”

To locate Midwest EVOLVE events, visit www.midwestevolve.org or follow EVOLVE via TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn.

Overall, more than 300 National Drive Electric Week events are taking place this year throughout the U.S. Plug In America, the Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association team up with local groups to organize events. For a complete list of nationwide events, visit https://driveelectricweek.org.

The Midwest EVOLVE project is based upon work supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), under Award Number DE-EE0007743.

 

News Media Contact:

Joe Koenig
Make Ideas Reality Communications
708-613-5005

Chicago Area Now Meets Federal Air Quality Standard for Fine Particulate Matter

Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

CHICAGO, Aug. 28, 2019 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved the State of Illinois’ request to formally redesignate the Chicago area to attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate matter. Recent air monitoring data show the entire Chicago area now meets the national standard set to protect public health.

The Chicago area – and also the entire state of Illinois – currently is achieving the 2012 annual National Ambient Air Quality Standard for fine particulate matter. The EPA approved Illinois’ request to redesignate Chicago.

“For 25 years, our Chicago area coalition has worked with the U.S. EPA, the Illinois EPA, and our stakeholders, including public and private fleets, to reduce air pollution from the transportation sector,” said John Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “Through combined regulatory and volunteer efforts, these organizations have played an important role and contributed to the success of the Chicago area in lowering harmful emissions.

“We are especially proud of the role that our member fleets have played in reducing pollution,” Walton said. “Through the use of renewable and other alternative fuels, such as biodiesel, ethanol, compressed natural gas, propane, and electricity, we will continue to see fine particulate matter emissions trending downward.”

The Chicago area was designated as nonattainment area for the 1997 fine particulate matter by the U.S. EPA based on a multifactor analysis, including air-quality monitoring data. The Clean Air Act pertaining to engine technology and fuel mandates helped to decrease emissions in the Chicago area to achieve the most current standard. Nationally, the concentration of fine particulate matter has decreased 41 percent from 2000 to 2017.

Fine particulate matter are inhalable particles with diameters smaller than 2.5 micrometers. Most particles form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industries, and automobiles. Inhaling fine particulate matter can affect the lungs and heart. People with pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children, and the elderly are most at risk from exposure to particulate matter. Additionally, fine particulate matter is a major component of haze, which can reduce visibility.

Chicago Area Clean Cities, a nonprofit coalition focused on promoting clean transportation in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, was founded in 1994. Celebrating its 25thanniversary this year, the coalition’s membership is comprised of federal, state and local governments, corporations, small businesses, and individuals. These stakeholders come together to share information and resources, educate the public, help craft public policy, and collaborate on projects that reduce petroleum use.

“Our member fleets have reduced hundreds of millions of gallons of petroleum and millions of tons in greenhouse-gas emissions,” Walton added. “We’ve helped to facilitate the distribution of grant dollars for clean vehicles and alternative fuel stations. But, our work is not finished. In several Illinois counties, the ozone standard has not been achieved, the large number of older and more pollution-emitting vehicles are still a concern, and millions of Illinois citizens are suffering from lung disease. We must be diligent in our continued efforts to keep the momentum going.”

Chicago Area Clean Cities is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago region, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To become involved, visit chicagocleancities.org.

For more information about NAAQS: https://www.epa.gov/naaqs

For information about air quality in your area: https://www.airnow.gov

For information about air quality trends: https://www.epa.gov/air-trends

 

Chicagoland Businesses, Municipalities Have Chance to Learn About Electric Trucks, Utility Vehicles

Monday, August 12th, 2019

WOOD DALE, Ill., Aug. 12, 2019 – Electric vehicles aren’t only being considered by consumers. Businesses and municipalities also are looking at the future of transportation, and planning what they will need to efficiently operate in the coming years.

With that in mind, Chicago Area Clean Cities, a nonprofit coalition focused on educating commercial and government fleets in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs about clean-vehicle technologies, is hosting a free Fleet Education Seminar on Thursday, Sept. 5. The program will help fleets to learn the ins-and-outs of operating electric utility vehicles and trucks of various sizes.

“Our goal is to provide businesses, cities, and other officials with the information they need to make the right decisions to run their operations,” said John Walton, chair, Chicago Area Clean Cities. “This seminar will delve deeply into electrification and what you need to know to determine whether electric utility vehicles and trucks will help you get jobs done, while lowering emissions and maintenance expenses.”

Representatives from vehicle manufacturers – including Mitsubishi Fuso, Tropos Motors, and Energetics Drivetrains – will highlight vehicles ranging from low-speed compact utility vehicles to medium-duty delivery trucks, vans and shuttle buses. Experts will highlight how to get your garage ready for electric vehicles.

The program will be held at the Maple Meadows Golf Club, 272 S. Addison Road in Wood Dale. The free seminar will kick off the day to be followed by an afternoon of golf and a reception.

Fleet managers, government officials, campus leaders, maintenance personnel, landscaping crews, and other professionals are invited to attend the morning’s free seminar and stay for the golf outing in the afternoon.

“We’ve been hosting our golf outing for nearly 20 years, and we have people join us from throughout the Chicago area who are experts at technical solutions that help fleets realize a fast return on investment, while also improving air quality and saving fuel,” Walton said. “The networking opportunities throughout the day are fantastic.”

To register for the seminar and golf, visit http://thumb4.techniquedev.com///event/cleanair.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC) supports local actions to improve the environmental performance and efficiency of the transportation sector in the six-county Chicago area. CACC’s membership is comprised of federal, state and local governments, commercial fleets, auto manufacturers, dealerships, environmental organizations, corporations, small businesses, and individuals.

CACC is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country that are affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago area, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, and Will counties. For more, visit http://thumb4.techniquedev.com//.

 

News Media Contact:

Joe Koenig
(708) 613-5005

Biodiesel Event Helps Fleets Save Money, Promotes Clean Air in Illinois

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Ill., July 9, 2019 — Breathing clean air shouldn’t be a luxury. That’s why partners across the Chicago area are joining in a special biodiesel education event to help ensure clean air is available for residents of Illinois.

On July 17, Chicago Area Clean Cities and the B20 Club will jointly host Truck Stop Coffee Talk: The Truth About Biodiesel in Bolingbrook, Illinois. This comprehensive program will dive into the health, environmental and performance advantages of biodiesel-blended fuels as an alternative to traditional diesel fuels. A renewable and cost-saving fuel, biodiesel releases fewer emissions of harmful pollutants, ultimately reducing the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases. It also reduces greenhouse gases by up to 86 percent.

To learn more about biodiesel, attendees will gather July 17 at the Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza in Bolingbrook, which offers biodiesel as a premium fuel blend. Registration is free and open to Chicago area fleet managers, fuel providers and sustainability directors.

Event sponsors are Chicago Area Clean Cities (CACC), the B20 Club and Greater Chicago I-55 Truck Plaza. CACC is a designated U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Coalition. The B20 Club is a partnership of the Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and American Lung Association that recognizes Illinois fleets operating on biodiesel blends of B20 or greater.

“Chicago Area Clean Cities works with a variety of transportation industry leaders, government officials and community members to promote the use of domestic fuels like biodiesel,” says John Walton, chair of Chicago Area Clean Cities. “Alongside the B20 Club, we’re dedicated to implementing sustainable and more environmentally friendly fuels throughout Illinois, saving energy, saving money, promoting the use of domestic fuels, and providing Illinois residents with clean air.”

During the July 17 event, Chicago-area fleets will share their experiences using biodiesel blends of B20 (20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent diesel) or greater, including best practices for using biodiesel in temperatures as low as 20 below zero. The program features a panel discussion with the Chicago Park District, National Biodiesel Board and Optimus Technologies about a bi-fuel system that allows the Park District to operate two refuse haulers on 100 percent biodiesel year-round.

“Biodiesel is a renewable fuel made from soybeans. Since Illinois is the largest producer of soybeans in the United States, we’re excited to help bring this biodiesel educational program to the Chicago area,” says Rebecca Richardson, ISA biodiesel lead.

To learn more about biodiesel, visit biodieseladvantage.com.

The ISA checkoff and membership programs represent more than 43,000 soybean farmers in Illinois. The checkoff funds market development, soybean production and profitability research, issues management analysis, communications and education. Membership and advocacy efforts support Illinois soybean farmer interests in local areas, Springfield and Washington, D.C. through the Illinois Soybean Growers. ISA programs are designed to ensure Illinois soy is the highest quality, most dependable, sustainable and competitive in the global marketplace. For more information, visit www.ilsoy.org.

Chicago Area Clean Cities is one of nearly 100 coalitions across the country affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program, which brings together stakeholders to increase the use of alternative fuel and advanced-vehicle technologies, reduce idling, and improve fuel economy and air quality. The coalition concentrates its efforts on educating businesses and municipalities in the six-county Chicago region, including Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. To become involved, visit chicagocleancities.org.

 

For more information, contact:

Rachel Peabody
217-825-7654

Karen Potratz
262-563-5117
262-470-3709

Joe Koenig
708-613-5005