'Mythbusters' Jamie Hyneman Wants To Teach You About The Clean Air Action Plan And Why You Should Care About It

His commitment to clean air is no myth — it's the straight poop on stopping pollution.



Jamie Hyneman wants you to care about clean air — and that’s no myth.

On October 25, the former Mythbusters star announced his support of the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) and his new partnership with Cummins Westport, a global leader for spark-ignited natural gas engines used in commercial transportation. 

"I'm proud to partner with Cummins Westport on their commitment to develop the cleanest engines on the planet," Hyneman told A Plus. "Not only are they clean-burning but the fact that they can be used with renewable natural gas produced from organic waste means we are helping to keep methane, one of the world's most potent greenhouse gases, from reaching the atmosphere." 

Jamie Hyneman
Jamie Hyneman

Since 2006, the two largest ports in the United States, in Long Beach and Los Angeles, have collaborated to dramatically reduce air pollution emissions from cargo movement in and around these areas. The CAAP reflects their long-standing commitment to reaching these goals. In that time, the CAAP has done a whole lot of good for the region and the planet — eliminating 87 percent of diesel particulate matter, cutting nitrogen oxides by more than half, reducing nearly 100 percent of sulfur oxides, and decreasing greenhouse gases more than 18 percent. 

"This plan really looks like it's making and will continue to make a real contribution to Los Angeles' air, which is quite a bit better than it was when we started cleaning up our air … back in 1970," Dr. Steven Cohen, executive director of Columbia University's Earth Institute and a professor in the practice of public affairs for the School of International and Public Affairs familiar with air pollution policy told A Plus, referencing the Clean Air Act. "... The way they're working on this by trying to reduce the environmental impact of these activities is at the heart of sustainability management." 

This animation shows how the methane gas from cow manure is transformed through an anaerobic digester system into "Bessie's Biogas" that then fuels Cummins Westport's engines.  
This animation shows how the methane gas from cow manure is transformed through an anaerobic digester system into "Bessie's Biogas" that then fuels Cummins Westport's engines.  

But even with so much already accomplished, they're just getting started. Now, the CAAP plans to accomplish one of its biggest goals of reducing emissions by transitioning to zero and near-zero emission technologies for all freight equipment. Cummins Westport knows the power of these technologies. "Our Natural Gas Near-Zero technology is a great way for the CAAP to accomplish its goals, particularly if it decides to fuel the trucks and cargo-handling equipment with readily available Renewal Natural Gas (RNG) produced from organic waste streams like cow manure or landfill gas," Cummins Westport President, Rob Neitzke told A Plus. "Our Near Zero natural gas engines can run on RNG, and they are mature, affordable, and ready right now. Rapid goal attainment for the CAAP is well within the reach of the ports today."

And that’s — pardon the pun — the straight poop.

"Any energy you get from waste is helpful to the environment ... We're in a phase of transition from a finite resource based economy to a renewable resource-based economy," Cohen further explained. "It's gonna take probably half a century before we complete that transition, and, at this stage of the transition, this is certainly better than what's come before."

This is all part of a larger effort to support California's statewide vision for more sustainable freight movement. "California has been leading the whole country on all aspects of environmental regulation from the very beginning of the Environmental Protection Agency …" Cohen added. "Seaports and airports are critical in moving these goods around the planet. That's really how the wealth of the world has grown over the last quarter century, so I think that anything we can do to make these facilities more sustainable is a real positive contribution both to the growth of our economy and the protection of the environment." 

An animated Jamie fills up a car with "Bessie's Bio gas," made from the methane gas found in cow manure. 
An animated Jamie fills up a car with "Bessie's Bio gas," made from the methane gas found in cow manure. 

In 2018, the ports plan to begin the transition to zero and near-zero emissions trucks by phasing in cleaner engine standards for new trucks entering the port drayage registries. They aim to achieve this goal by 2035. "I believe working with Cummins Westport to support the Clean Air Action Plan and its transition to zero and near-zero emissions engines will set a positive example the rest of California, and the country, can follow," Hyneman affirmed. With this comprehensive commitment to cleaning our air, the future looks bright. 



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