Bioenergy

Illinois Soy Makes it to Big City Biodiesel Program

Diesel fuel emissions have gained, with cause, a reputation as a lung irritant and contributor to childhood asthma because it is used in school buses across the nation. Chicago School Transit has decided to address the problem by becoming the first school bus service in the Chicago Metropolitan Area to use soy-based biodiesel fuel, which is known to reduce hazardous exhaust emissions between 15 and 20 percent.

“Thousands of Chicago students will breathe easier thanks to soy biodiesel fuel in their school buses, an All-American fuel produced from Illinois soybeans,” said Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn. “I salute Chicago School Transit for reducing our children’s exposure to pollution.” Chicago School Transit is using soy-based biodiesel fuel as part of the “Illinois Clean School Bus Program,” developed and administered by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA). The purpose of the program is to provide a healthier environment for children by reducing the emissions from diesel-powered school buses and improve the air quality in local communities. Biodiesel for the program, which is a mix of 20 percent soy-based and 80 percent diesel known as B20, is provided by BioEnergy Supply of Frankfort, Illinois. Fourteen other community school bus fleets, owned and operated by Cook-Illinois Corporation, will follow suit making it the largest bus fleet in the country to use the healthier alternative and environmentally friendly fuel. Cook-Illinois Corporation operates 1,400 school buses in more than 15 Chicago area communities. Studies have shown that children riding school buses are exposed to higher level of emissions than other children. Petroleum diesel exhaust emissions inhaled on a consistent basis have been linked to the causes of asthma and other respiratory conditions. “Every day, families entrust us with the safety of their children,” said John Benish, Jr., COO of Chicago School Transit parent company, Cook-Illinois Corp. “As a Chicago leader in alternative fuels, we wanted to be the first to improve the air quality and provide a cleaner and safer atmosphere for school children.”