The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of up to $20 million in FY 2012 grant funding to establish clean diesel projects aimed at reducing harmful pollution from the nation’s existing fleet of diesel engines and improving air quality and Americans’ health. In addition to these grants, approximately $9 million will be available through direct state allocations. EPA estimates that for every $1 spent on clean diesel funding up to $13 of public health benefit is realized.
“Technology has evolved to make diesel engines more efficient and cleaner than ever,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These grants enable owners of older diesel vehicles to make investments that modernize their vehicles while making the air in their communities cleaner and healthier to breathe.”
This is the first competition since the Diesel Emission Reduction Program, also known as DERA, was reauthorized in 2011. The program cleans up existing diesel vehicles, many of which can be operated for decades, by targeting projects that utilize the most cost-effective clean diesel strategies. By reducing diesel emissions in areas that have significant air quality issues the program can have a direct impact on community health.
Diesel engines are durable, fuel efficient workhorses in the American economy. EPA has standards in place that make new diesels more than 90 percent cleaner. However, older diesels that predate these standards emit large amounts of air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). These pollutants are linked to health problems, including asthma, lung and heart disease, and even premature death. Nearly 11 million older diesels still operate throughout the nation’s transportation system.
States, tribes, local governments, and non-profits are eligible to apply for these grants. Projects can reduce air pollution from older school buses, transit buses, heavy-duty diesel trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and other diesel engines. The closing date for receipt of proposals is June 4, 2012.
DERA was enacted in 2005 and since it was first funded in FY 2008, EPA has awarded over 500 grants nationwide. These projects have reduced hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution and saved millions of gallons of fuel. As part of EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, many of these projects fund cleaner diesel engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities whose residents suffer from higher-than-average instances of respiratory ailments.