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Tugboat will reduce exhaust emissions with new engines, with help from EGLE grant

Kurt R. Luedtke tugboat Credit: Luedtke Engineering CompanyThe black exhaust spewing from a Great Lakes tugboat was so thick, the U.S. Coast Guard thought it was a vessel in distress. That's how Jack Smith, yard foreman, described the condition of the Kurt R. Luedtke tugboat, operated by Luedtke Engineering Company.

That exhaust will no longer draw attention because the dredging and marine construction business recently became a recipient of grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy's Clean Diesel Program

Under the program, applicant proposals were rated on criteria that included reductions in nitrous oxides and fine particulate matter, both of which contribute to unhealthy air, greenhouse gases; also rated were the expected lifetime emissions reductions and lowest lifetime costs of emissions reductions. The four projects chosen total $366,150 and will replace older, highly polluting diesel vehicles with new, more efficient, and cleaner operating diesel and propane vehicles and engines.

"Health, environment, climate, and environmental justice are all affected by diesel emissions," said Elizabeth M. Browne, director of EGLE's Materials Management Division.  The projects will "reduce exposure to harmful exhaust fumes and airborne particles at Michigan ports, near well-known recreation areas, as well as at schools and municipalities."

"Our current engines were originally designed in the 1930s, and although they have been upgraded, they still function nearly identically to the original engine design," added Smith. "Having come from that era, they are not a very clean or efficient engine. Most of our work is done along more densely populated shoreline areas, so there is a greater direct effect on the local population with exhaust emissions. With a cleaner, more efficient engines we will make a positive impact on those local communities."

The other Clean Diesel program grant recipients are a forklift that operates adjacent to the Hiawatha National Forest, near the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Seney Wildlife Refuge, and older school buses.

Photo caption: Kurt R. Luedtke tugboat Credit: Luedtke Engineering Company

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