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EPA awards $513K to Alaska & Washington tribes to protect communities from diesel emissions

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Bill Dunbar (

Seattle - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Northwest Office has awarded $512,949 in Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) funding to federally recognized tribes in Alaska and Washington to reduce emissions from diesel stationary generators and marine vessels.

The grants fund projects with Chalkyitsik Village Council in northeast Alaska and the Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation in Washington.  

"Clean diesel technologies not only improve air quality, but advance innovation and support jobs,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt. "These projects will significantly reduce harmful emissions and directly benefit the health of residents.”


The Chalkyitsik Village Council, a rural Alaskan Native Village south of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, received $212,343 to replace two Tier 0, unregulated generators that are the sole power supply to the village with two new, certified Tier 3 low-emission generators.  

Rural communities in Alaska are not connected to the electrical grid and must generate their own electricity with highly reliable diesel generators capable of providing around-the-clock power. Typically, these are older, high emission, non-certified generators.

In Chalkyitsik, the generators operate close to homes, workplaces, and the community’s school which poses a health risk to the high number of villagers – including children -- who suffer from chronic respiratory ailments. Replacing Chalkyitsik’s existing generators with far more efficient, low emission units will dramatically reduce fuel use and costs, as well as the harmful emissions and health risks associated with diesel exhaust.

“To ensure a sustainable future for the next generations, we need to do all we can to protect the health of our community,” said James Nathaniel, Jr., Tribal Administrator of the Chalkyitsik Village Council. “Replacement of the two older generators with new ones will help us do that.”


The Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation in western Washington received $300,606 for Phase 3 of their marine engine project to repower six tribally owned fishing vessels. The vessels are used by the tribe for salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp fishing. 

As shown in the Scorecard chart of EPA’s National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment (2012), Whatcom County ranks among the 80th percentile of the worst counties in the U.S. for the number of people living in areas where cancer risk from Hazardous Air Pollutants exceeds 1 in 10,000, with the highest contribution to cancer risk listed coming from diesel emissions. In the Puget Sound region, 78 percent of air toxics are made up of diesel exhaust/particulate matter.  Maritime emissions account for nearly 40 percent of these emissions.

Approximately 50 percent of the Lummi fishing fleet is comprised of heavily utilized engines over 20 years old that run an average of 1000 hours per year. This repower project will target six engines from six of the 37 diesel powered vessels in the Lummi fishing fleet. The replacement will reduce diesel emissions from the current 10.7 tons of NOx and 0.5 tons of PM2.5 to 5 tons of NOx and 0.05 tons of PM2.5 annually. Over the 25-year lifetime of the repowered engines, diesel emissions will be reduced for NOx by 54 percent (145 tons) and for PM2.5 by 89 percent (11 tons).

Sean Lawrence of the Lummi Indian Business Council said, “Replacing these old engines with newer, cleaner ones is a significant step in helping reduce the health risks from diesel exhaust for both boat operators and our disproportionately affected community.”

The DERA program

These DERA grants are administered by EPA's West Coast Collaborative, a clean air public-private partnership comprised of the Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest Regions. Since 2008, the EPA DERA program has awarded nearly 700 grants across the U.S. in 600 communities. Many of these projects fund cleaner diesel engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities whose residents suffer from higher-than-average instances of asthma, heart and lung disease. These projects have reduced emissions from more than 66,000 engines.

To learn more about all of this year's West Coast Collaborative DERA projects, visit:

For more information about EPA's National Clean Diesel campaign and the awarded Tribal DERA projects nationally, visit

To learn more about the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality which funds the DERA program, visit: