Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Breath of Fresh Air: Blue Skyways Shows OK Partners How to Reduce Emissions

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Breath of Fresh Air: Blue Skyways Shows OK Partners How to Reduce Emissions

Article excerpt

At all four corners along the Morgan Road exit of Interstate 40 in Oklahoma City, diesel-powered trucks sit with motors running while drivers take required time off from the road.

Large vehicles at all four truck stops also sit with engines running while waiting in line to purchase more diesel fuel.

Reducing emissions from idle vehicles with running engines is one of the goals of the Blue Skyways Collaborative, an initiative created in February by the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage voluntary air emission reductions.

Voluntary is the key word and represents a shift from government regulatory efforts, said Kathryn Burke, outreach coordinator for the Blue Skyways Collaborative office at 10005 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in Oklahoma City.

"We want to operate as a partner rather than from a negative position," she said.

Partners pledge to reduce emissions and can be industrial facilities, public and private businesses, environmental groups, nonprofits and government agencies.

Reduction of emissions is a quality-of-life issue - diesel engines and power-producing facilities produce toxics negatively affecting public health, according to the EPA.

The four truck stops at Morgan Road and I-40 are near a large residential area. The area south of I-40 from Morgan Road west to Yukon is one of the fastest-growing residential areas in the state.

The Blue Skyways Collaborative region stretches along the Interstate 35 corridor from the Mexico border to the Canada border. The area includes Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota.

In December, the Blue Skyways Collaborative announced $200,000 in awards to help clean the air.

The funding is intended to support innovations in diesel retrofits, idle reduction, the introduction of renewable fuels and other projects consistent with the objectives of the National Clean Diesel Campaign.

"This funding and voluntary programs like the Blue Skyways Collaborative are making a big difference in air pollution in the heartland of America today," said Annette Sharp, executive director for the Central States Air Resources Agencies, known as CenSARA and the collaborative's parent organization. …

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