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Idaho enjoys clean air

By Christina Jensen
Published On: May 24 2013 07:39:22 PM CDT

The air may not be good elsewhere, but it's great in Idaho.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho -

The air may not be good elsewhere, but it's great in Idaho.

One federal agency says the concentration of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, is hitting higher levels in major metropolitan cities.

"In total emissions, Idaho ranks really well in total CO2 emissions. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Idaho is No. 46 out of 51, including the District of Colombia,” said Phillip Cameron, the executive director of the Yellowstone Teton Clean Energy Coalition, an organization focused on cleaner and more efficient fuels in vehicles.

He said the Gem State has low CO2 emissions because of the high amount of renewable electricity sources like wind.

"No matter where you are in the country, there's tremendous opportunity to be more efficient with how we use energy in all of its forms,” he said. “Transportation has room for improvement and efficiency, so I'm excited about the opportunities that the region has in that regards. There's a lot of interest locally and regionally in what our organization advocates for."

The Idaho National Laboratory is becoming a leader in efficient transportation.

Chris Ischay, the lab's sustainability program manager, said other national labs are looking at using biodiesel buses like the INL's.

"Each of these buses seats anywhere from 48 to 54 passengers,” he said. “They get almost 25 percent more per gallon than the former fleet did, which has allowed us to reduce our fuel usage by almost 400,000 gallons since 2005."

The buses are owned by the federal government, but benefit more than the employees who use them.

"You know, a lot of people don't understand that a lot of the carbon footprint reduction that we've done has actually benefited eastern Idaho as a whole for over 60 years,” said Ischay. “So the more we can do to help employees and the environment, the better off we'll be."

In addition to its bus fleet, the sustainability program constructs buildings that keep energy, heat and water usage low.

Natural light is used inside, plants that need little water grow outside, and the lab has wind and solar power sources.

The INL has been recognized by the White House for its achievement with its bus fleet. The lab was awarded the Green Government honor for its fuel reduction efforts in 2011.

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