A group called the “Blue Skyways Collaborative” held its first meeting this week in Kansas City to talk about using public-private partnerships to improve the quality of life in a central corridor of states.
Alan Banwart, an environmental protection specialist with the federal E-P-A, was there. He says they got together to talk about a collaborative effort including Iowa and Nebraska as well as the countries of Mexico and Canada, to work along the Interstate-35 corridor The Federal Aviation Administration and E-P-A among other government agencies, and companies including Caterpillar and Iowa’s MidAmerican Energy were at the table talking about diesel emission reductions quickly and also some longterm projects.
Iowa was represented at the meeting by Jim McGraw with the Department of Natural Resources. Both on-road and non-road sources of pollution will be under scrutiny, he says. There’s talk about “diesel retro-fits” of school buses, something E-P-A’s been looking at already, and also for trash trucks, since those kinds of vehicles are found in all the 9 participating states.
Another topic that’s getting increasing attention is “truck stop electrification” to reduce diesel emissions. He points to all the truck stops and rest stops along highways where trucks pull in but leave their engines idling. Making available a source of power they can plug in would let the over-the-road drivers run their appliances, heating and cooling for the cab as well as refrigeration trucks, while letting them quit running their engines — so they won’t pollute or waste their fuel.
The Blue Skyways Collaborative plans to find matching public and private sources of funding to develop projects to reduce air pollution emissions along major transportation corridors and in some polluted areas of larger cities.