EPA Makes $50 Million Available to Clean Up Diesel Engines Nationwide
Reducing diesel emissions is becoming more important in today's construction marketplace. Clients are increasingly calling for use of clean diesel practices and contractors with cleaner operations are finding themselves well-positioned for future business opportunities. The good news is that cost-effective green diesel technologies are available, and now, so is a lot of federal funding.
By Jim Blubaugh
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Director National Clean Diesel Campaign
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the availability of almost $50 million in grant funding for projects to reduce emissions from the nation's fleet of diesel engines that are currently in use. The unprecedented sum, which was authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and funded for the first time this fiscal year, will be administered by EPA's National Clean Diesel Campaign and its network of “Clean Diesel Collaboratives,” made up of EPA regional offices and public and private sector partners.
"America's air is cleaner today than it was a generation ago," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By encouraging innovations in existing diesel engines, EPA is driving the nation toward a clean, healthy, productive tomorrow."
EPA is administering the almost $50 million in assistance through 4 separate programs. The $27.6 million National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program will be of particular interest to the construction industry.
National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program
State, local, regional and tribal governments can apply for the grants under the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program. School districts, federally recognized Indian tribes, municipalities, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), cities and counties and non-profits and institutions with transportation, educational services and air quality responsibilities are all eligible entities under this assistance agreement program. To participate in EPA’s funding assistance program, construction companies and other private sector fleet owners can partner with these eligible entities to establish their clean diesel projects.
The National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program is an EPA competitive grant program promoted through its network of seven regional collaboratives across the country (see sidebar).
EPA anticipates that the funding available through the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program will be awarded to grant recipients in the fall of 2008. By law, half of the funding is dedicated to benefit public fleets, including private fleets contracted for public purpose such as road construction projects.
Funding through the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program can only be used to support technologies and engines that have been verified or certified by the EPA or the California Air Resources Board. Note also, that funding assistance received through this program cannot go toward the cost of emissions reductions currently mandated under federal, state or local law. However, applicants can apply for funding to gain experience with new technologies and begin their emission reductions program prior to the dates for compliance with these mandates. Specific details can be viewed in the request for proposals found on the collaboratives’ web sites listed in the sidebar.
Eligible fleets and equipment include, but are not limited to the following:
- Medium or heavy duty trucks
- Marine engines
- Nonroad engine, stationary engine or vehicle used for:
- Handling of cargo (including at a port or airport)
- Energy production
Grant recipients can use a variety of cost-effective emission reduction strategies, such as EPA-verified retrofit and idle-reduction technologies, EPA-certified engine upgrades, vehicle or equipment replacements, cleaner fuels and creation of innovative clean diesel financing programs. For example, a piece of equipment with no pollution control technology can be replaced early with a new piece of equipment with the latest emission control technology.
Project proposals that align with the priority areas listed below will rank higher in the evaluation process:
- Most cost-effective
- Areas with high population, air quality issues, and air toxic concerns
- Areas that receive a disproportionate quantity of air pollution (e.g., truck stops and marine ports)
- Maximize the useful life of the engine
- Conserve diesel fuel and utilize Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (early introduction of ULSD for nonroad projects)
Other Funding Programs
Following these same criteria, EPA is administering three additional clean diesel funding opportunities. The National Clean Diesel Finance Program (~$3.4 M) provides funding to eligible entities, such as states, that will be able to establish national innovative financing mechanisms (e.g., low cost revolving loans). The Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program (~ $3.4 M) will support projects that use new technologies not yet verified but that are on EPA’s emerging technology list. The State Clean Diesel Grant Program (~$14.8 M) allocates funds to states to assist them in establishing state programs to reduce diesel emissions.
The Time Is Right!
The construction industry can benefit from the federal funding for clean diesel activities available now. Non-profit organizations such as Chapters of AGC of America are eligible to apply for funds. Construction companies and other private sector fleet owners are positioned to partner with their local AGC Chapters, or with other eligible agencies or organizations, to create and implement clean diesel programs funded through the National Clean Diesel Campaign. If a company is contracted on a state, city or local government project, the state can apply for funds on behalf of the contractor. Grant recipients arrange for the purchase of necessary equipment through competitive acquisitions.
EPA recognizes that the diesel engine is the workhorse in building and maintaining America’s infrastructure. However, these engines last a long time and can be highly polluting. Fortunately, cost effective solutions are available now that will make the existing diesel fleet much cleaner. By partnering with eligible entities, construction companies can reduce diesel emissions, help protect the health of Americans in the communities where you work, and enhance your bottom line while providing leadership in the greening marketplace.
Visit the National Clean Diesel Program web site at www.epa.gov/cleandiesel for more information regarding eligible partners.
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