The Dane County Clean Air Coalition today announced a new voluntary program to help reduce harmful summer ozone pollution. The $50,000 initiative, funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Madison Gas & Electric Co. (MGE), will reduce ozone-causing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by 19 tons per year, which is equivalent to removing 450 cars from the highways in Dane County.
MGE committed $30,000 to the joint-initiative, which allowed 50 of 77 gas stations in Madison to be outfitted with pressure-vacuum vent caps on the stations large gasoline storage tanks. These caps help hold in harmful gas vapors that contain VOCs.
UW-Madison, in partnership with Dane County, City of Madison and Briggs & Stratton Company, provided $20,000 in funding that will allow residents to exchange their old gasoline storage can for a free environmentally friendly gas can.
This program is a part of MGE and UW-Madison’s efforts to improve air quality in Dane County. Both parties committed to funding VOC reductions in voluntary agreements before the construction of the West Campus Cogeneration Facility.
Old gas cans emit a substantial amount of pollutants into the air. In fact, the estimated 167,000 gas cans in Dane County contribute roughly 1.2 tons of air pollution a day. That is equal to the same amount of VOCs generated by 14,000 cars on our highways. Additionally, a substantial amount of gasoline is spilled each year that can contaminate our water and soil. It is estimated that Americans while filling up lawnmowers, boat motors and stranded cars spill more than 9 million gallons of gasoline every year – the equivalent of an oil supertanker.
“Protecting our environment must be a real partnership,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “This program shows how working cooperatively the Dane County Clean Air Coalition can make a difference by offering citizens another way they too can help improve the air we breathe.”
VOCs and nitrogen oxides are the two types of air pollution that combine with sunlight and heat to produce ground-level ozone. In past years, ozone pollution in Dane County has reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups – children, older adults and people with asthma. Approximately, 40,000 Dane County residents suffer from asthma.
“MGE is committed to protecting the environment while providing reliable energy,” said Gary Wolter, MGE’s chairman, president and CEO. “As a member of the Clean Air Coalition, we took steps to reduce VOCs to improve the community’s air quality.”
"Fighting ozone and keeping our air healthy is a priority, and this program is a way to help spread an environmental ethic on a household level,” said Rob Kennedy, UW-Madison senior transportation planner.
A free gas can exchange event will take place in Madison on Saturday, June 11, 2005, at Franklin Field, 1402 Wingra Creek Parkway. Dane County residents can get a free spill-proof, environmentally friendly gas can by turning in their old empty plastic or metal cans. There is a limit of two new Briggs & Stratton 2½ gallon gas cans per household while supplies last.
The Dane County Clean Air Coalition is a private/public partnership of businesses, schools, government agencies and citizens working together to voluntarily reduce air pollution, keep our air healthy and help ensure that Dane County continues to meet state and federal air quality standards.
Dane County Clean Air Coalition Members: City of Madison, Dane County, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Kraft Foods, Madison Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Madison Gas & Electric Company, Madison Metropolitan School District, Petroleum Marketers Association of Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Department of Administration, Department of Health and Family Services, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Petroleum Council.