Increasing the use of clean burning renewable fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel is the focus of a growing coalition of organizations working to improve air quality in the eight-county Omaha metro area, which includes counties in neighboring Iowa. Clean Fuels Omaha is a public/private coalition focused on the use of alternative fuels as a strategy to improve human health and the quality of the air we breathe. Clean Fuels Omaha involved a wide range of participants including the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Ethanol Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, the Urban Air Initiative, Green Plains, Iowa Corn, SIRE, Douglas County Health Department, Omaha Public Power District, the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) and other clean air and health-focused organizations and advocacy groups.
So far, the Omaha metro area has been able to avoid what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls "nonattainment status." Nonattainment means that the area does not meet the national air quality standards for any component considered to be a pollutant. If Omaha were to slip into nonattainment status, the consequences would be severe. For example, there would be additional regulations for industry--and serious pollution reduction regulations would be put in place.
MAPA Executive Director Greg Youell said that his organization has incorporated consumer information on renewable fuels in its "Little Steps, Big Impacts" campaign, which helps citizens learn how they can easily make a difference in the quality of life in their city. "The more we learn about the dangerous effects of vehicle exhaust on human health, the more we need to encourage the use of clean-burning fuels such as American Ethanol and biodiesel," Youell said.