EPA Recognizes Small Business for Pollution Prevention Efforts

A small business in Chicago has made giant strides in reducing its impact on air quality and its efforts have come to the attention of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Whitman.

Whitman congratulated El Milagro Inc., a tortilla products manufacturer, to reduce air pollution. El Milagro, a family-owned small business, has converted 24 of its 32 delivery trucks to low-polluting propane.

""El Milagro has seen first hand that sound environmental practices are also sound business practices," said Whitman.

Cleaner alternative fuels help reduce carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions. They can also save money. The cost of propane fuel can be anywhere from 60 cents to a dollar less per gallon than gasoline in the Chicago area. The use of propane may also reduce vehicle maintenance costs.

El Milagro began by converting a few vehicles in its fleet to propane in order to meet clean air regulations for the Chicago area. It discovered that, because of the lower price of propane compared to gasoline and the Illinois Alternate Fuels Rebate program for retrofitting the trucks, it could save money by operating propane-fueled trucks.

El Milagro is one of 25 Illinois businesses that participate in the state's innovative Green Fleet program. Started in 2001, the voluntary program encourages businesses, government agencies and organizations to help improve air quality by committing to the use of alternative fuels.

The Chicago area does not meet the health-based standard for ground-level ozone (smog). Trucks and cars that burn gasoline emit more air pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog than those that burn propane. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems. Asthmatic children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

El Milagro Inc. was founded in 1950 by the late Don Raul Lopez, who moved to the United States from Mexico in 1942. It has grown from a part-time neighborhood business into one of the leading Hispanic-owned businesses in the Midwest.

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