Air quality across Minnesota is relatively good but there’s still room for improvement. Clean Air Minnesota aims to continue to reduce emissions by targeting sources that aren’t regulated or permitted. Some contributors to poor air quality are the fumes from an older, high-polluting car, the diesel engine school bus in front of you at the stoplight, or your neighbor’s old, inefficient wood burning stove. These examples of dispersed pollutants cause nearly 75 percent of the air pollution in our state. Our efforts at Clean Air Minnesota ensure that Minnesota’s overall air quality remains at a “good” level by identifying and reducing man-made sources of fine particulate matter (soot) and ground-level ozone (smog). Our work over the years has proven beneficial.
Our key projects achieved outstanding emission reduction results during a global pandemic that has and continues to devastate our economy and slow local business production. For example, Project CAR (Project Clean Air Repairs), which began in October 2019, repaired 50 vehicles and reduced air emissions by 2.8 tons. Since its inception, Project CAR has reduced vehicle emissions by nearly five tons.
Another program reducing air emissions is Project Green Fleet. The program connects fleet owners with grant opportunities to help off-set the costs of replacing or upgrading their old heavy-duty vehicles and/or engines. In fiscal year 2019, 24 emissions reducing technologies, vehicle re-powers, and vehicle replacements were undertaken by 14 public and private fleets with the aid of multiple EPA Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grants and state Volkswagen settlement funding; these projects resulted in the approximate lifetime reduction of 103 tons of particulate matter, 720 tons of nitrogen oxides, and nearly 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Project Stove Swap spent the year transitioning to a service area of seven counties in and around the metro area. To date, swapping old stoves has reduced air emissions equivalent to removing more than 985,000 cars from the road each year.
Lastly, our Clean Air Assistance Project (CAAP), which helps small businesses secure funding to implement cost-saving, emission reduction projects, recruited four businesses and submitted three applications for the Business Pollution Prevention Program (BPPP). Through Environmental Initiative’s partnership with Ramsey/Washington Recycling and Energy and Ramsey County, BPPP introduced its Pandemic Relief Incentive to increase its financial support for local businesses to implement emission reduction projects.
“Our results are amazing, but we didn’t achieve them without help,” says Jon Emerson-Kramer, program manager for Clean Air Minnesota. “Our partners have played a huge role in our success.” Emerson-Kramer explains that Clean Air Minnesota has nurtured long, trusting relationships with partners who guide our efforts and offer sound advice. Even with the emissions reductions that Clean Air Minnesota has achieved in the past, we know that there’s more to be done. We are excited to continue to work to ensure that all Minnesotans breathe the same air. “Our success over the years has been fantastic, but we’re just getting started,” says Emerson-Kramer. “There’s still a lot of work to do.”
We look forward to continuing to work with all our innovative partners and bringing in new ones to continue to do this great work.
~Clean Air Minnesota Team