Environmental Initiative launches first-of-its-kind Minnesota program to fix high-polluting vehicles

Project CAR improves the 25% of passenger vehicles which cause 90% of vehicle air pollution


September 16, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Environmental Initiative today announced the launch of Project CAR (Clean Air Repairs), a new program which is helping fix some of the most polluting vehicles on Minnesota roads. Funded by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Flint Hills Resources and the City of Minneapolis, the project works with partner auto repair garages to identify vehicles with outdated or broken emission controls or exhaust systems and encourages income-eligible drivers to have repairs made at low or no cost. The program is the first of its kind in Minnesota.

An estimated 25% of passenger vehicles cause 90% of air pollution from vehicles. This is because many older cars have outdated or broken emission controls and exhaust equipment. Click here to watch a video about The Lift Garage – a Minneapolis nonprofit auto repair garage – and its involvement in the program.

“Project CAR helps our environment, energizes our economy and improves health outcomes for our most vulnerable citizens,” said Bill Droessler, program development officer and director of clean air programs at Environmental Initiative. “We are delighted to live in a state where public and private entities can come together to support programs for the greater good. Project CAR is one of several unique programs that is helping Minnesota maintain its position as a national leader in clean air.”

The Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Life and Breath report indicates that poor air quality disproportionately affects people living in poverty, so Project CAR aims to reach vehicle owners in neighborhoods most affected by poor air quality.

“Regardless of where they call home or their economic status, Minnesotans expect clean, healthy air,” said Dave Benke director of the Resource Management and Assistance Division at the MPCA. “Project CAR is an innovative, community-driven solution that ensures Minnesotans have access to affordable auto repairs that will ultimately improve the air quality in neighborhoods and communities.”

Project CAR funds repairs to four priority emission control systems: catalytic converters, Evaporative Emission Control (EVAP) systems, oxygen sensors and exhaust gas recirculation valves. Repairs are provided by a growing list of partner garages including The Lift Garage in Minneapolis, Cars for Neighbors in Blaine, and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Small Vehicle Garage in Cass Lake.

“Cost is the number one barrier for low-income Minnesotans considering car repairs,” said JoHanna Smrcina, operations manager at The Lift Garage. “Project CAR allows them to improve the safety and efficiency of their vehicles at little or no cost, helping them get back on the road in a way that is better for the environment. Thanks to Environmental Initiative, we are offering a win-win for our customers and the environment.”

Project CAR is an initiative of Clean Air Minnesota, a public-private-community partnership committed to creating healthy and thriving communities through continuous air emissions reductions. Clean Air Minnesota is co-chaired by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, and is managed and administered by Environmental Initiative.

“For more than 20 years, Environmental Initiative has brought Minnesotans together to find creative ways to keep our air and water clean and safe for everyone,” said Geoff Glasrud, vice president and manufacturing manager at Flint Hills Resources Pine Bend refinery. “Project CAR builds on this legacy of collaboration that has served Minnesota so well.”

About Environmental Initiative

Environmental Initiative is a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis that builds partnerships with business, government and nonprofit leaders to develop solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. For more information, please visit environmental-initiative.org.


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