Wyoming DEQ reports success in efforts to reduce air pollution emissions

“Jackson Hole Airport’s new industrial snowblower purchased with grant funding.” (Jackson Hole Airport via Wyoming DEQ)

CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Division said on Thursday, Feb. 25 that “efforts to reduce air pollution in Wyoming are continuing strong this year on the heels of multiple successes in 2020.”

The department has been working with partners across the state “to replace higher-emission diesel vehicles with new ones that are more friendly to the environment.” They offer grant programs which aim to help reduce emissions.

Wyoming DEQ Outreach Program Manager Brian Hall says that “the voluntary efforts put forth by our grant recipients are essential to reducing air pollution from diesel emissions in Wyoming. We’re proud to help make that happen.”

Partners in 2020 included the Campbell County School District (CCSD), Western Wyoming Beverages and the Jackson Hole Airport.

CCSD No. 1 Transportation Director Keith Chrans says that the district is working to reduce emissions by transitioning from diesel to propane buses and by reducing the amount of time buses are spent idling.

The district started replacing their diesel buses with propane buses in 2016, according to Wyoming DEQ, “but in more recent years Chrans began applying for School Bus Replacement Program grants through WDEQ.”

“That money comes partially from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) and partially from matching funds from the 2016 Volkswagen Settlement,” the Wyoming DEQ release states.

The district is reimbursed 25% of the cost of the new buses and the Wyoming Department of Education will reimburse CCSD for the remaining costs, according to Wyoming DEQ.

“We have reduced our emissions by about 30% per bus. That’s almost like taking six diesel buses off the road,” Chrans said in the release.

The district has replaced 18 diesel buses so far, with grants supporting the replacement of nine buses.

“The district also used grant money to replace eight buses with clean diesel buses, which reduces the diesel emissions by about half for each bus,” Wyoming DEQ said.

Chrans told Wyoming DEQ that propane buses are less expensive to repair and also run cleaner engines.

“We should be running fuels cleaner, whether it’s diesel or propane,” he said.

The diesel buses cost about $10,000 in repairs compared to about $3,800 for propane buses.

“Even if we just replaced 50 buses, that’s $300,000 in savings,” Chrans said, adding that CCSD is saving around $1,200 per school bus on fuel each year.

Wyoming DEQ also described efforts at Western Wyoming Beverages (WWB). The company has used Wyoming DEQ grants to replace two old diesel vehicles.

WWB President Sean Valentine said the grants covering 25% of the replacement cost amounted to about $55,000.

“Valentine decided to apply for the grant because he needed to make some investments in his business, but he wanted to do that without affecting his employees’ jobs,” Wyoming DEQ said.

Valentine said in the release: “By obtaining this grant, we help save employee jobs and help a Wyoming business continue to prosper.”

WWB is also working to recycle all plastics used to wrap their pallets. They send the plastic to a decking company to be used in composite decking materials. They also send waste from broken or expired products to a company in Colorado which turns liquid products into ethanol based fuel.

Wyoming DEQ said that the Jackson Hole Airport have applied both for Wyoming DEQ grants as well as Wyoming Department of Transportation Wyoming Aviation Capital Improvement Program support.

“Dustin Havel, operations director for the airport, said they purchased a new industrial snowblower that reduces the airport’s emissions and can remove twice as much snow as the previous snowblower,” the Wyoming DEQ said. “He said it’s a 16,000-pound snowblower that can remove about 5.5 tons of snow an hour.”

“Information provided by the Jackson Hole Airport shows that the new industrial snowblower cost just over $867,000. The WYDOT grant paid for 75% of the cost, and the WDEQ grant covered 20%. The airport paid the remaining 5%.”