EPA awarding $44 million to cut diesel engine emissions

Trucking, rail and maritime projects aimed at cutting diesel engine emissions will be able to compete for $44 million from the U.S. government to lighten the cost load.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opened its fiscal 2020 round of funding for grants and rebates through its Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA). The program was initiated in 2008 to help regional transportation agencies and nonprofit groups replace area fleets with cleaner burning engines.

“Modernizing our nation’s aging fleet of diesel-powered vehicles is an important part of the Trump administration’s plan to further reduce harmful emissions and guide counties and states from nonattainment into attainment,” commented EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Dec. 10. “Our hope is that through these upgrades and ongoing efforts, communities will continue to see improved health outcomes for their residents, ensuring all Americans breathe cleaner air.”

EPA is requesting applications nationwide for projects that significantly reduce diesel emissions, particularly from cargo fleets operating at facilities in areas designated as having poor air quality. Grant request limits for fiscal 2020 range from $1 million to $4 million, depending on EPA region.

Diesel engines powering large trucks, locomotives and marine vessels move approximately 90% of the nation’s freight tonnage, according to EPA. Past awards have gone to an array of freight projects covering all three transportation modes.

In 2018, for example, the Port of New York and New Jersey received $2 million to help replace 80 drayage trucks, and the South Coast Air Quality Management District received $720,000 toward replacing a switcher locomotive operating at the Port of Long Beach in California.

In addition, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation received $944 million to install auxiliary power units (APUs) in pre-2007 long-haul trucks. To be eligible for that award, which is available through Dec. 31, 2020, trucks must be registered in four states covered by EPA Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska).

Total grant awards for diesel emission reduction projects involving short-haul, long-haul, last-mile and port drayage commercial trucks averaged $18 million over the past three years.

Information on applying for a DERA grant can be found here.