For those who are unaware, one year ago we announced the completion of our mission to retrofit every eligible school bus in Minnesota that it makes sense to retrofit with pollution reduction equipment. Through Project Green Fleet (our diesel emission reduction partnership with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) we retrofitted over 3,200 buses and, combined with other engines, eliminated air emissions quivalent to removing 750,000 cars from the road every year. Naturally, we celebrated for a whole five minutes before announcing our next initiative to match those reductions pound for pound for a total emissions reduction equivalent of 1.5 million cars. Considering there are less than 6 million motor vehicles registered in the state, that’s no small fleet (rimshot).
In this second phase of Project Green Fleet, we’re setting our sights on bigger, older, and dirtier heavy-duty engines. These engines are at work across the construction sector, at airports and railyards, and at our ports. So, on a soggy Thursday morning with the help of our funders from Flint Hills Resources and our friends at the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Saint Paul Port Authority, Upper River Services, and Caterpillar Ziegler, we announced the first retrofit in this new phase and our biggest to date. We also got a little media coverage, which was great:
- Midwest Energy News – From boats to buses, Minnesota program helps clean up diesel emissions
- Minnesota Public Radio – Towboat’s new engines may herald cleaner industry in Minnesota
- Saint Paul Pioneer Press – Tugboat gets engine upgrade in St. Paul pollution fight
The Becky Sue is a 38 year-old towboat operated by Upper River Services. Lee Nelson, Owner of Upper River Services, heard of Project Green Fleet and thought it was a good opportunity to give ol’ Becky Sue a new lease on life. She’ll get two new 600-horsepower engines that will ensure she hauls Minnesota’s goods and materials for years to come. Equally impressive is that she’ll be doing more with less (pollution, that is).
Upgrading the Becky Sue from her unregulated engines to EPA-certified Tier III equipment will eliminate over 20 tons of air emissions each year, the equivalent to removing 12,000 cars from the road.
If you drive to work, try this some time. Lets assume (heaven forbid) you work five days a week for all 52 weeks in the year. As you sit in traffic, count 46 cars in front or around you each day. Now imagine they disappear. Day after day after day. For a year. Every year. That’s the kind of impact this project has. And those are just two engines.
Make no mistake, achieving another 750,000 car-equivalent reduction is going to be a challenge. It’s also going to be another incredible milestone in Project Green Fleet and our ongoing mission to reduce emissions and exposure through voluntary collaborative efforts.
And the 5 minutes we take to celebrate before announcing our next initiative will be twice as sweet.