In furtherance of the administration’s sustainability goals, Cook County’s Clean Diesel Program has been awarded $633,135 in grants to install pollution control equipment on some of its heavy-duty diesel vehicles, President Preckwinkle announced today.
The county’s Clean Diesel Program will use the funds to retrofit 43 vehicles with tailpipe technology that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 90 percent. Targeted vehicles include dump trucks, flatbed trucks and garbage trucks from the Highway Department and the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. Earlier grants from 2008 and 2010 helped retrofit 64 vehicles including Highway Department vehicles and buses belonging to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. Through the county’s website, the program also educates Cook County residents about the negative effects of diesel particulate emission, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions on their health and quality of life.
“Cook County is using the Clean Diesel Program to help improve air quality and reduce negative health effects and absenteeism among people with respiratory issues,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “Through education, and proactive steps like making county vehicles more environmentally friendly, we are progressing every day toward a more sustainable place to live.”
The project is entirely grant-funded. Of the project’s $633,135 funding, 80 percent, or $530,508, was awarded from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program, administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. The other 20 percent, or $132,627, was awarded to the county as a result of a legal settlement between the USEPA and Allied Metal Company, in response to a pollution incident.
“We want to thank the not-for-profit Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, which addresses respiratory issues through research, education and advocacy, and who has been a terrific partner in this effort,” said Deborah Stone, Cook County’s chief sustainability officer. “Their efforts secured the matching funds for the grant from the USEPA settlement. And they are a leader in public education on why we need to reduce diesel pollution.”
Diesel pollution contributes to cancer, cardiovascular problems, premature death and other health concerns. Those most vulnerable are children whose lungs are not fully developed, and the elderly, who may have other serious health issues.
The Clean Diesel Program and other county projects are featured on the new Cook County Sustainability website at http://blog.cookcountyil.gov/sustainability. The goal of the website is to create a “virtual sustainability community,” where suburban communities, partners and the county can exchange success stories, good ideas and best practices. The website also features environmental news and services for the public, and the county’s latest sustainability initiatives, including the recently approved Solid Waste Management Plan and President Preckwinkle’s Sustainability Advisory Council, whose goal is to establish Cook County as a world-class model of sustainability, efficiency and conservation. Additionally, the public can access the website to locate nearby drop-off sites to recycle their electronics or to learn about county-sponsored events during Earth Week.