Middle Georgia Clean Air Coalition (MGCAC) started out with a vision for cleaner air. In 2003, two Middle Georgia counties were designated as non-attainment and one county designated as a contributor to that non-attainment. The non-attainment designation presented a big challenge for the local area. With base realignments and closures occurring across the country, the community was concerned in how it might affect Robins Air Force Base, which is vital part to the surrounding communities. The Middle Georgia Clean Air Coalition (MGCAC) was formed in 2003 to develop a long-term regional response to the air quality challenges. Today, every county in Middle Georgia is in attainment for all air quality standards. However, MGCAC recognizes that protecting air quality must be an ongoing effort as part of having a vibrant community. MGCAC is actively involved with EPA’s Early Action Compacts program.
Historically, the two highest PM monitors in the state have been near rail yards. One in downtown Atlanta and the other near Norfolk Southern’s Brosnan yard in Middle Georgia. MGCAC quickly recognized this problem and wanted to help reduce this impact. Elected officials from the MGCAC sought federal assistance and was successful. This was a $12 million with about $8 million in Federal Funds and $4 million in matching private funds. A dedication ceremony was held on April 17, 2019 recognizing the great work that had been accomplished. Nine old locomotives had been converted into six clean Eco Mothers meeting TIER 3 emission standards and three slugs. This project reduced PM2.5 by 2.7 TPY and NOx emissions by 69 TPY.
MGCAC continues actively pursuing a wide variety of emission reducing programs as follows:
- Works to review of its entire operations and maintenance (grass cutting, road maintenance, building upkeep and renovation, etc.) and develop a plan to reduce NOx and Ozone.
- Implements programs to improve energy efficiency of government building
- Implements programs to promote LED lighting in place of less efficient lighting
- Implemented Idle Reduction Policies
- Promotes low maintenance ground cover to reduce the need for lawn maintenance.
- Supports transition to cleaner alternatives fuels such as propane school buses and propane lawn equipment
- Implements programs that seek to capture landfill and wisely use the energy when practical
- Offers financial assistance to install EV chargers
- Supports Solarize America’s efforts to deploy more solar energy in the area
- MGCAC supports the installation of the largest standalone solar facility in the Southeast (139-MW), which is planned on 2,000 acres in Twiggs County near Warner Robins. This is a joint effort between Georgia Power and Robins Air Force Base.
- Promotes clean commute options that reduces traffic congestion
- Offers educational opportunities to help citizens understand the air quality challenges
- Established and continues to support the Ned Sanders Scholarship, which promotes education at a local university (i.e., Emory) for one or more students interested in environment and air quality studies.
- Actively engaging to support Air Quality initiatives. Upon announcement of the intended rollback of the CAFE standard, the MGCAC wrote a letter attempting to dissuade this action. MGCAC recognizes the CAFE standard as an important effort to reduce NOx emissions and corresponding Ozone concentrations.