It’s been an interesting week here in central Illinois. A full-fledged blizzard (how often to you see a “Blizzard Warning” in the corner of your TV screen?) dumped mounds of snow on the Champaign-Urbana area, resulting in a rare closing of the entire University of Illinois campus (for two straight days). Now, as those of us at WMRC headquarters dig ourselves out, it’s worth considering how our efforts to keep our streets and windshields clean affect the environment.
As snow melts, road salts runoff from streets, parking lots and other paved surfaces into storm sewers and eventually into waterways, where they may pose a risk to the aquatic environment. Road salts can also negatively impact vegetation and wildlife while still on the land, and can contribute to corrosion of automobiles and infrastructure. Check out Environment Canada’s web page on road salts, their environmental impacts, and what the Canadian government is doing to reduce environmental risks associated with road salts. This page includes case studies related to the management of road salt usage. For more information on road salt use north of the border, see RiverSides “Low-Salt Diet” page, which includes their publication, A Low-Salt Diet for Ontario’s Roads and Rivers. This document provides an overview of environmental and economic impacts of road salt use and discusses best management practices and alternative products.
The U.S. EPA Natural Emergencies–Snow and Ice page provides information on environmental concerns associated with snow and ice management for residences, highways and airports. Included are links to information on road salt application and storage, as well as application practices and research related to deicing chemicals. The Environmental Literacy Council provides a nice overview on the environmental impacts of deicing, considering road salt, alternatives to road salt (e.g. sand, calcium magnesium acetate, etc.) and liquid deicers. A list of recommended resources is provided for further information.
If you’re aware of other resources related to the environmental impacts of snow and ice management, or of information on environmentally friendly road salt alternatives/deicing products, email the information to Joy Scrogum for potential inclusion in the GLRPPR Sector Resources.
The GLRPPR Help Desk Librarian is here to answer your P2 questions. Previous questions and answers are archived on the GLRPPR web site and also appear in related sector resource categories. Below is a recent inquiry.
Question: I have heard about a $1/gallon government incentive for biodiesel. I would like some information about who provides the incentive and who gets it.
Answer: This incentive is also known as the Biodiesel and Ethanol (VEETC) Tax Credit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy:
The American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-357) created tax incentives for biodiesel fuels and extended the tax credit for fuel ethanol. The biodiesel credit is available to blenders/retailers beginning in January 2005. It also established the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC), which provides ethanol blenders/retailers with $.51 per pure gallon of ethanol blended or $.0051 per percentage point of ethanol blended (i.e., E10 is eligible for $.051/gal; E85 is eligible for $.4335/gal). The incentive is available until 2010.
Section 1344 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended the tax credit for biodiesel producers through 2008. The credits are $.51 per gallon of ethanol at 190 proof or greater, $1.00 per gallon of agri-biodiesel, and $.50 per gallon of waste-grease biodiesel. If the fuel is used in a mixture, the credit amounts to $.0051 per percentage point ethanol or $.01 per percentage point of agri-biodiesel used or $.0050 per percentage point of waste-grease biodiesel (i.e. E100 is eligible for $.51 per gallon) (Source: U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
For more details on this program and other incentives for using alternative fuel sources, see:
Getting bucks back for your biodiesel production
This article provides a good overview of the tax credit and related incentives for biodiesel producers.
State & Federal Incentives & Laws
This database captures state and federal laws and incentives related to alternative fuels and vehicles, air quality, fuel efficiency, and other transportation-related topics. State-level information is updated annually after each state’s legislative session ends. Federal information is updated after enacted legislation is signed into law.
A cooperative effort of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and participating corporations (including 1,600 work sites that earned the Best Workplaces for Commuter designation), Best Workplaces for Commuters provides information for employers and employees looking for alternatives to a gas-guzzling commuter lifestyle.
The site includes facts and figures about the program and about commuting more generally, as well as benefits of a sustainable commuter program, resources for setting up a benefits program at your workplace, and summaries of successful programs.
For more information about the benefits of alternative commuter programs, see also:
If you have suggestions for additional resources, please login and post them in the comments.