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December 2011

Go Green: Do Your Share for Cleaner Air!
Inside This Issue
Tips to make it a greener holiday season
Obama Administration abandons new air quality standard, proposes CO2 regulations
Senate's MAP-21 transportation reauthorization bill aims to improve existing CMAQ program
MoDOT lays "smog-eating" concrete in St. Louis County
Clean Air Partnership participates in first-ever Metro East Air Quality Forum
Heated platforms to help keep MetroLink passengers warm this winter
We need your input!

Tips to make it a greener holiday season

 

With another holiday season now underway, our attention is turning to food, fun, festive décor, family togetherness, and of course, gift-giving. As the old song says, this can be the most wonBell-bowderful time of the year, but it can also wreak havoc on the environment. From gift wrap and packaging to holiday decorations and disposable tableware, Americans generate tons of extra waste during the holiday season. But, there are steps we can take to minimize our environmental impact as we celebrate.

 

One easy way to cut back on the trash we create is to find creative ways to package holiday gifts. Instead of purchasing rolls of gift wrap that will all get thrown away, consider using reusable gift bags or baskets this year. If gift wrap is a necessity, try using children's artwork or even old road maps. Calendars or the colored comic pages from the newspaper can also serve as more eco-friendly options. To cut back on ribbon usage, try using paint or markers to decorate packages.

 

Getting creative with the actual gifts we give can also help reduce waste. For example, choosing to give experiences, rather than items can be a good option. This can include tickets to a play, concert or sporting event; music or cooking lessons; restaurant gift certificates, or even a homemade certificate good for a lunch date. These types of gifts are more personal and don't come with wasteful packaging that's harmful to the environment.

 

When it comes to holiday decorating, a live holiday tree is a more eco-friendly choice than an artificial one. And by purchasing a tree that's native to region where we live, it can even be replanted after the holidays. Those that can't replant their live trees can recycle them. Decorating with natural, biodegradable items like cranberries, popcorn, dried flowers and live greenery is another great way to lessen our environmental impact, while using LED lights instead of traditional holiday bulbs is a more eco-friendly means of illuminating the tree and home.

 

As we entertain, we can cut back on waste by utilizing reusable glassware, flatware and dishware rather than plastic, paper or Styrofoam items, and using cloth table coverings and napkins. If paper products are needed, try purchasing products with recycled content and those that are biodegradable. Providing containers for recycling aluminum and glass beverage bottles and cans, serving organic or locally grown foods and preparing only as much food as needed can also help to reduce waste at holiday gatherings.

 

All of these ideas represent simple, easy actions we can all take to make it a greener holiday, and they can all go a long way towards improving our environment and our air quality. For additional tips to help you go green and do your share for cleaner air all year long, visit our website at www.cleanair-stlouis.com, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

 

Obama Administration abandons new air quality standard, proposes CO2 regulations

  

In September, President Obama officially rejected a new standard for ground-level ozone proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) aimed at improving air quality and lung health nationwide.

Since 2009, the EPA had been pushing for a tougher National Ambient Air Quality standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion. The proposed standard would've replaced ozone limits set in 2008, which many felt weren't strict enough to protect human health. However, the standard was abandoned by President Obama who announced that he felt tougher standards would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress.

 

As hopes for a new ground-level ozone standard continue to fade, there is a bit of good news with regards to CO2. In November, the Obama Administration announced plans to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants for the first time. The new rule would allow the EPA to create emissions standards for new power plants. This move represents a first step towards President Obama's campaign promise of a clean energy future, and we encourage you to stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for the latest news updates on the status of these regulations.

 

Senate's MAP-21 transportation reauthorization bill aims to improve existing CMAQ program

 

Much has been in the news recently about the Senate's Transportation Bill, commonly known as MAP-21. If passed by Congress, the bill would offer a long-term transportation plan designed to repair our nation's crumbling infrastructure, move people and freight more efficiently and boost employment through the creation of highway construction jobs.

 

In terms of our air quality, the bill also brings positive news for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. CMAQ provides funds to states for transportation projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. The MAP-21 bill aims to improve the existing CMAQ program by including particulate matter as one of the pollutants addressed, and by requiring a performance plan in large metropolitan areas to ensure that CMAQ funds are being used to improve air quality and congestion in those areas.

 

MAP-21 was recently cleared by the 18 members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and continues to gain bipartisan momentum. Locally, Citizens for Modern Transit has been closely following the status of the bill and we encourage you to follow them on Twitter or find them on Facebook for the latest updates.

 

MoDOT lays "smog-eating" concrete in St. Louis County 
 

MoDOT is working to determine if the roads we drive on could eventually play a key role in improving our region's air quality. In October, MoDOT applied a two-inch layer ofMoDOT concrete containing titanium dioxide to a 1,500-foot section of Route 141 between Ladue Road and Olive Boulevard. Titanium dioxide is a photo-catalytic additive that has the capacity to absorb smog, use sunlight to break it down and release it as nitrogen and carbon dioxide.

 

While this technology has been used in Europe for a number of years, officials at MoDOT say they believe the Route 141 paving project represents the first location in the United States where a "smog-eating" section of road is being tested.

  

The actual test period for the concrete will start when Route 141 opens for traffic in mid-2012. During that time, an engineering team from Iowa State University at Ames will monitor the site to officially determine the pavement's success in reducing smog. A separate team from the University of Missouri - Kansas City will collect water samples from a 30-foot section of the road's shoulder to test its effect on water quality. As this project continues, we'll be sure to keep you updated as MoDOT shares the results with the public at-large.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Air Partnership participates in first-ever Metro East Air Quality Forum

 

A solid line-up of presenters drew 60 attendees to the Illinois Department of Transportation office in Collinsville, Ill., on Oct. 21 for the first-ever Metro East Air Quality Forum.

 

The forum was designed to inform area municipal leaders and the Metro East community at-large about the state of air quality in Southwestern Illinois and what can be done to improve it. The event was highlighted by a keynote discussion from Gilberto Alvarez from the EPA Region V. Alvarez discussed the regional impacts of air pollution and the unique role the Metro East plays at the national level as one of three pilot projects addressing a new approach to air quality management. Additional presenters included representatives from the Illinois EPA, the St. Louis Regional Clean Air Partnership, Madison County Transit, St. Louis Metro Transit, East-West Gateway Council of Governments and the Metro East Citizens Air Project.

 

The event was a huge success and we were thrilled to be a part of it. Special thanks to Laura Barton from RideFinders and Amy Funk of the University of Illinois - Citizens for Air Quality Project for their work to organize the event, and to all those who attended and presented.

 

 

 

 

Heated platforms to keep MetroLink passengers warm this winter 
 
Those riding MetroLink this winter will have a more comfortable wait now that platform heaters are up and running at MetroLink stations throughout Illinois and Missouri. The passenger-controlled heaters are mounted into the wind shelter ceilings on the various MetroLink platforms. To save energy, the heaters run on a timer and turn off automatically after 15 minutes. Passengers can enjoy the heaters when the temperature dips below 50 degrees. 
 

We need your input!

As we continue our work to improve the air quality in the St. Louis region, we remain on the lookout for new partners to join us in our efforts. If you have friends or colleagues at companies or organizations that you think would be interested in serving as Clean Air Coordinators or Employee Transportation Coordinators, please ask them to call (314) 645-5505, ext. 1007, or send an e-mail to sfuchs@breathehealthy.org for information on how they can get involved.