Illinois–A Leading Producer of Alternative Fuels
As a national leader, Illinois is making great efforts to make transportation cleaner and more efficient. The state, with its central location and superior transportation system has 2,000 miles of interstate highways, 1,118 miles of navigable waterways (including the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers) and the largest rail gateway in the nation.
Illinois is a leading producer of ethanol made from corn and biodiesel made from soybeans. In fact, the state is currently the top producer of soybeans and biodiesel in the nation. The biodiesel industry supports nearly 7,500 jobs in all sectors of the Illinois economy.
Across the state, plans include putting more electric drive vehicles on the road and replacing oil with biofuels that produce fewer emissions. In urban areas, work is being done through education, training and innovation. In rural areas, agriculture represents great opportunities for biofuels made from renewable sources.
Regional efforts that support clean transportation include the Chicago Area Clean Cities, a unique partnership of government and organizations from every corner of the Chicago metro area. In addition, EVTown represents a broad-based effort to establish Bloomington-Normal, Illinois as a model electric vehicle community.
What Illinois Community Colleges Are Doing:
Illinois community colleges are playing an important role in our state’s efforts to make transportation cleaner and more efficient. They provide urban, suburban and rural entry points with opportunities to positively influence transportation and alternate fuels-related initiatives.
Community colleges are largely commuter schools. This means they must incorporate the impact of their students’ commute into their carbon footprint calculator. After buildings, this is often the largest contributing factor. To help mitigate this situation, schools are:
- Offering degree and certificate programs that lead to traditional careers in transportation such as truck driver training as well as in emerging technology fields such as biofuel manufacturing.
- Utilizing campus facilities as living laboratories for green infrastructure projects such as EV charging stations.
- Greening their fleets with electric and alternative fuel vehicles.
- Working with local authorities to increase public transportation through ride share programs, expanded bus routes and improved shuttle services.
- Developing community bike trails that connect the campus with other areas in the community.
- Creating student incentive programs and competitions to encourage use of public transportation and other emissions reduction.
There is a growing need for professionals who plan, design, build and repair transportation systems and energy-efficient vehicles. Green jobs that focus on mass transit and reducing vehicle emissions are in the greatest demand. Additionally, renewable fuel mandates are spurring the rapid growth of biofuel jobs, including the construction and operation of ethanol and biofuel plants.