Thanks to a grant that provided new engines, the Twin Cities now has a “green” towboat.
The Becky Sue operates on the Mississippi out of St. Paul, moving barges up and down the metro stretch of the river for Upper River Services. She was built 38 years ago, and like a lot of towboats, her older diesel engines emit a lot of pollution. That will change now that she’s being upgraded with modern, cleaner-burning engines. In pollution terms, the swap-out is equivalent to removing about 12,000 cars from the road.
The big diesel engines used in heavy equipment like towboats are tough and rugged. They’re designed to operate reliably for decades. Becky Sue’s would probably have lasted many more years, but her owners chose to replace them thanks in part to an incentive offered by Environmental Initiative (EI), a public/private partnership that works to find innovative solutions to environmental protection (MPCA is a founding member). EI member Flint Hills Resources covered about a quarter of the cost of the Becky Sue’s upgrade.
Previously the partnership had upgraded engines or pollution-control equipment in more than 3,000 Minnesota school buses through an effort called Project Green Fleet. A news conference held in St. Paul on September 24 kicked off phase 2 of the project, which focuses on older engines in heavy equipment like marine fleets, locomotives, and construction equipment. Since these big units put out far more air pollution than smaller vehicles or equipment, we can get a lot of bang for the buck by cleaning them up.
Project Green Fleet is a collaborative effort led by Environmental Initiative, with business, government agencies and non-profit organizations, to improve air quality and protect public health by reducing emissions from Minnesota's school buses and other diesel vehicles.