The Eagle Ford oil boom continues to grow and so does concern for the environment.
The Texas Energy and Economic Roundtable recognized several companies with their inaugural STEER Eagle Ford Excellence Awards. The award goes to companies striving help the environment.
One of the recipients was San Antonio's Holt Cat Distributors. Holt Cat sells, rents and repairs diesel engines and earth moving equipment.
They currently have 400 pieces of equipment operating in the Eagle Ford, including tractors and engines on drilling and fracking equipment.
With such a large volume of equipment, Holt Cat officials said they are concerned for the environment and it's a priority at their facilities as well as in the field.
“We have made some real efforts to try to help our customers clean up the environment and also do things internally with our facilities," said Howard Hicks, vice president and director of public affairs for Holt Cat.
Hicks said the company is adding solar panels to existing buildings to help reduce their electricity use. They will also be following updated environmental guidelines when the build new facilities.
The biggest impact is being felt in the new design of their diesel engines. Caterpillar has added components to the newest engines to help reduce emissions by 80 percent since 1996.
“Diesel engines today are as clean as natural gas engines," said Kathi Harris, emissions business manager for Holt Cat.
One of the biggest changes is a silver canister that sits where the muffler used to be. It acts as a filter for the nitrous oxides and particulates and has the ability to clean itself.
One big change observers won’t see: exhaust.
“They won't notice black smoke coming out of the exhaust of the engine,” Harris said.
What's good for the environment is also good for the operator.
Richards Graves have been driving Cats since he was a kid. He recalls being covered with exhaust and soot after a day of driving a tractor.
Now the cabs are state of the art, equipped with comfortable chairs and a radio, and are easier to operate.
That means Graves can breathe easier.
“The more we can control what we breathe in and put on our skin, the better off we'll be," said Graves.
Graves also said the particular front-end loader that is in demand runs just as smooth and works even harder than it used to.