Grants to aid in clearing the air

2014-01-24T15:10:00Z 2014-01-24T22:30:12Z Grants to aid in clearing the airJoseph S. Pete joseph.pete@nwi.com, (219) 933-3316 nwitimes.com

Breath easier, Northwest Indiana residents.

A round of grant funding is expected to reduce diesel emissions in the region by 10,500 pounds per year, and eventually by as much as 100,000 pounds.

The BP Whiting Refinery gave $450,000 for various projects aimed at improving air quality, such as by using alternative fuels. South Shore Clean Cities and the Indiana Chapter of the Sierra Club worked on the initiative, which will provide 10 cities, schools and hospitals with money to invest in air-clearing measures, including replacing older diesel buses with propane-fueled buses.

They leveraged the BP grant to secure an estimated $1.2 million from other sources, including the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

"Through the efforts of the environmental groups and South Shore Clean Cities, today's event culminated in some really innovative and out-of-the-box thinking in terms of how we can all work together to reduce our emissions locally," said Tom Keilman, director of government and public affairs for the BP Whiting Refinery.

Industry and environmental groups can work together, despite a perception that they are in conflict, said Steve Francis, state chair of the Indiana Chapter of the Sierra Club.

"These positive types of programs show that we can work together, resulting in monies being made available for important emissions reduction projects like these," he said.

Deb Backhus, senior environmental scientist/engineer at South Shore Clean Cities, said projects were selected based on how much they could improve public health.

The recipients were:

  • Franciscan Alliance in Hammond, Dyer and Crown Point, which received $52,500 for seven Medidock kiosks, or devices that reduce emissions from ambulances.
  • Methodist Hospitals in Gary and Merrillville, which received $30,000 for four Medidock kiosks.
  • Community Healthcare System in Hobart, which landed $15,000 for two Medidock kiosks.
  • Community Healthcare System in Munster and East Chicago, which got $35,500 for four Medidock kiosks.
  • School City of East Chicago, which was awarded $67,293 for Telematics, or vehicle-tracking, technology on 31 buses and partial funding to replace two older diesel buses with propane-fueled buses.
  • School City of Hammond, which received $56,558 for bus heaters to reduce idling in up to 64 school buses.
  • Lake County Sheriff's Department, which secured $24,637 for re-powering old patrol/search and rescue boat engines with cleaner diesel engines.
  • City of Gary, which won $8,975 for diesel oxidation catalysts on six older trucks.
  • City of Hobart, which got $114,263 to replace an older refuse truck with a new CNG-fueled refuse truck.
  • City of Whiting, which received $42,000 to replace an older refuse truck with a new clean diesel refuse truck.

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