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Group: It’s Not Only Your Car Belching Out Pollution

January 18, 2008

Des Moines, IA – It's not just cars and trucks that add to air pollution problems. The Natural Resources Defense Council says it also is time to ask airlines to help clean up their "highways," the skies, by burning cleaner fuels in commercial jets.

The group is urging 15 major airlines serving the Midwest to cut emissions by not using fuel that comes from liquefied coal, oil shale and tar sands. Liz Barratt-Brown, an NRDC attorney, says many Iowans fly in and out of Chicago's busy O'Hare Airport, where the "dirty" fuel is used.

"Out of O'Hare specifically, we know the airport and the airlines there are getting fuel from the local refineries, refining this dirty oil. I think it's very likely that Iowans are, in fact, on flights that are burning this dirty fuel."

Barratt-Brown says Midwest air travelers can do their part by speaking up to ask airlines for cleaner, greener fuel alternatives. She says there are plenty of biofuel options being developed for use in planes, made from corn and other sources. She adds using some of them also would mean reduced fuel costs for the airlines.

"We're asking them to do a fuel audit, to determine where their fuel is coming from; and to say we don't want to be part of this problem, we want to be part of the solution."

She says production of fuel from the controversial, "dirty" sources generates from two to five times the heat-trapping global warming pollution as conventional oil, and damages sensitive wilderness areas, too. She believes the airlines have a moral responsibility to invest in cleaner fuels.

Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IA