EPA ups clean diesel budget sevenfold

EPA ups clean diesel budget sevenfold

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced at a teleconference yesterday the availability of $49.2 million in grant funding for clean diesel technology

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced at a teleconference yesterday the availability of $49.2 million in grant funding for clean diesel technology—that’s a substantial increase from the Clean Diesel program’s 2007 budget of approximately $7 million.

EPA’s Clean Diesel program is in addition to its SmartWay initiative aimed at promoting fuel efficiency and lowering greenhouse gases.

“The challenge we have is the 11 million diesel engines on the road [that pre-date current engine standards] that can last 20 to 25 years,” said Margo Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “We believe the technology developed can be applied to existing engines—the solution is to retrofit, or replace, the old diesel engines.

“This money is to go to small fleet owners who need this kind of support to implement the SmartWay technology,” Oge added. “Large companies will not qualify.”

According to Oge, the $49.2 million in funds are divided into two parts. The first of which is a national program, to which 70%--about $34.4 million--is allocated. The bulk of these funds are a national grant to any eligible entities, which include state, local, regional and tribal governments as well as non-profits or any institution with transportation, educational services or air quality responsibilities, EPA said.

The national program also sets aside $3.4 million to support “emerging technologies” that have not yet been verified by EPA but have shown signs of being promising for retrofitting; and another $3.4 million for the SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program to establish revolving loans for fleets.

The remaining $14.8 million is earmarked for state programs and will be allocated between August and October of this year.

The $49.2 million in funds was authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and funded for the first time this fiscal year, and will be administered by EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign as well as EPA regional offices and public and private sector partners. The grants target buses, medium- and heavy-duty trucks, marine engines, locomotive and non-road engines, the agency said.

According to EPA, new engine standards will annually prevent 20,000 premature deaths and save $150 million in public health benefits when fully implemented.

“We have in the past 10 years started a number of regulatory measures that will reduce the emissions from diesel equipment, up to 90 or 95%,” Oge said. “The result of those reductions is huge.”

EPA has replaced or retrofitted about 400,000 diesel engines in the past few years under the Clean Diesel program, Oge said. About 50% of those are on-road vehicles.
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