GUEST COMMENTARY: Everyone wins when funding benefits cleaner air

GUEST COMMENTARY: Everyone wins when funding benefits cleaner air


Have you seen the recent viral video of the high school baseball pitcher hugging the batter he struck out to win the game and move on to the state finals?

Instead of celebrating with his teammates, the pitcher ran to home plate to hug the batter, a long-time friend and former Little League teammate, in an extraordinary display sportsmanship and friendship.

Seeing support cross boundaries is always heartwarming. While good-natured competition is healthy, showing compassion and recognizing the greater good is when our true colors really shine through.

Our Region has made tremendous strides in a multitude of sectors because of the willingness of its leaders to work together across jurisdictional boundaries. Organizations like the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) deserve much of the credit for that.

Being able to work together for the common good is of particular importance when it comes to air quality issues. Harmful tailpipe emissions do not stop at city, county or state lines and people are not confined to their own communities or places of business. We are an increasingly nomadic society and our country thrives in large part because of its transportation infrastructure.

That’s why we work so hard as part of the national Clean Cities program to make sure the vehicles and fuels moving our nation forward create the least amount of environmental burden possible. Our goal is to help our members achieve the greatest successes in emissions and petroleum reductions at the greatest cost savings. South Shore Clean Cities has assisted our members and partners in the successful awarding of more than $80 million in grant awards since our inception nearly 20 years ago. We’re incredibly proud of that accomplishment, but we’re even more proud of the emission and petroleum reductions achieved by the programs those dollars funded.

If any of our members or partners receives funding to implement a sustainable transportation project, everyone wins with improved air quality, less dependence on imported oil, increased energy security for our nation, investment in the local economy and support for local jobs. If a grant award goes elsewhere — another city, county, region or state — of course we’re disappointed, but we have to cheer for the greater good. An environmental win for one really is an environmental win for all.

To that end, South Shore Clean Cities is partnering with our friends at NIPRC and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for two free informative workshops July 17 – one at NIRPC, one at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor -- on the Indiana Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Program. Attendees will hear from the IDEM’s Shawn Seals on the program basics and latest developments in the $41 million diesel emission reduction plan. They will also learn how South Shore Clean Cities’ Green Fleet program can help their fleets get grant-ready and achieve the greatest financial and emissions savings through the program. To register, go to

Let’s work hard to give our Region the best opportunity possible to maximize emissions reductions with the help of the VW funding. I look forward to cheering for local wins as well as those granted in other parts of the state and through other states’ programs. After all, we’re all really on the same team.

Remember, it’s never too late to begin your environmental Legacy.

Carl Lisek is executive director of South Shore Clean Cities and vice president of Legacy Environmental Services. The opinions are the writer’s.


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