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World Environment Day Promotes Renewable Energy

Monday, June 5, marks World Environment Day where communities around the world take notice of their environmental impact and find ways to be greener. The city of New Orleans initiated its Master Plan in 2010 which, in part, aims to promote technological advancement and the reduction of greenhouse emissions by 2030.

To enable a greener New Orleans, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority began switching to a more environmentally-friendly biodiesel fleet in 2008. The sustainable fuel is made from a variety of vegetable and animal fats as well as used restaurant oils. The overall benefits are less air pollutants. Additionally, the fuel is non-toxic and is an entirely domestic energy source, allowing NORTA to use regional producers. In 2016, there was over 1.5 billion gallons of biodiesel produced in the United States.

New Orleans RTA is only one US transit system to make the switch to biodiesel. Buses in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Orlando use biodiesel. In addition, college transit systems like those at Harvard University and the University of Washington have integrated biodiesel vehicles into their fleets. 

Jacques Robichaux, Director of Maintenance at the RTA, mentions that the organization is always looking for ways to be greener and cleaner.

"We are looking to possibly getting some electric buses in the near future," Robichaux says. However, he adds, there is still some technological hurdles that need to be passed. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, since 2014, nationwide renewable energy initiatives have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 3.5 million tons annually.

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