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Twin Cities garages offer low-cost repairs on old cars to reduce emissions

Minneapolis garage offers free repairs on old cars to reduce emissions
Minneapolis garage offers free repairs on old cars to reduce emissions 02:29

MINNEAPOLIS — In the bays of the nonprofit Lift Garage in Minneapolis, mechanics are on a mission to provide low-cost auto repairs.

"We serve Minnesotans that are at 150% of the federal poverty guideline or lower. For a family of three people that's in the $30,000 range," said Atom Robinson, service manager at the Lift Garage.

That leaves no budget for a serious setback. 

"We've been able to save thousands of dollars for our customers, replacing exhaust systems that they probably wouldn't have gotten done otherwise," said Robinson.

It's all because of Project Clean Air Repair.

"What we do is piggyback on what they're doing already to cover the cost for the emission-environmental benefit of these kinds of repairs," explained Robinson.

An estimated 25% of passenger vehicles cause 90% of vehicle air pollution in Minnesota. 

Since 2017, Project Clean Air Repair has covered the costs to repair nearly 600 cars, eliminating 32 tons of emissions.

"We see our fair share of late model cars that need a lot of repairs, but we also work on cars across the spectrum," said Robinson.

The program is run by the nonprofit Environmental Initiative.

"Minnesota is facing pressure. We're going to be close to violating federal air quality standards because new standards are going to be set this year," said Bill Droessler, senior partnership director for Environmental Initiative.

Failure would lead to mandatory vehicle emissions testing across the state.

"There are no silver bullets. We have to do multiple kinds of projects like this to gain emission and exposure reduction but are also cost effective and provide these kind of economic benefits," said Droessler.

Project Clean Air Repair is growing. Turbo Tim's is the newest of eight partners offering emissions repairs through the program at all three of its Twin Cities locations.

"We could do this anywhere that we could find a shop because there are cars like this and people who need the help and we all benefit from cleaner air," said Droessler. 

"You know, as a Minnesotan and as somebody that likes the outdoors, I want to make sure we're protecting the environment every way that we can and this is a really innovative way to do that," said Robinson.

Project Clean Air Repair is funded by Flint Hills Resources, Marathon Petroleum, the City of Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

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