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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Report: Diesel Engine Clean-up Program Nets Major Air, Public Health Benefits


Atlanta, GA - Clean diesel grants aimed at cleaning up old diesel engines have greatly improved public health by cutting harmful pollution that causes premature deaths, asthma attacks, and missed school and workdays, according to a new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since its start in 2008, the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program has significantly improved air quality for communities across the country by retrofitting and replacing older diesel engines.
Diesel exhaust significantly contributes to the formation of dangerous soot and smog and is likely to increase the risk of cancer. The funding from the program has helped clean up approximately 335,200 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 14,700 tons of particulate matter (PM), which are linked to a range of respiratory ailments and premature death. The program has also saved 450 million gallons of fuel and prevented 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from more than 900,000 cars. EPA estimates that clean diesel funding generates up to $13 of public health benefit for every $1 spent on diesel projects.

"EPA is making a visible difference in communities that need it most through the funding of cleaner trucks, buses, trains, and other heavy equipment," said Janet McCabe, the EPA's Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. "The report on DERA's impact offers striking evidence that this program is succeeding in providing Americans with cleaner air where they live and work while also cutting the pollution that fuels climate change."

Operating throughout our transportation infrastructure today, over 10 million diesel engines -- the nation's "legacy fleet" -- need to be replaced or repowered to reduce air pollutants. While some of these will be retired over time, many will remain in use, polluting America's air for the next 20 years. DERA grants and rebates are gradually replacing legacy engines with cleaner diesel engines. Priority is given to fleets in regions with disproportionate amounts of diesel pollution, such as those near ports and rail yards.

"As the southeast continues to experience growth, EPA along with its federal, state, local, community and business partners are championing efforts to improve air quality," said Heather McTeer Toney, Southeast Regional Administrator. "Through the DERA program, communities from throughout the region have benefitted from significant reductions in diesel emissions at our ports, truck stops, and bus stops."

One Region 4 grant recipient was the Mecklenburg County Air Quality program that directed DERA funding to the AeroGRADE program to minimize the impacts on communities surrounding the Charlotte International Airport. "Over 90 percent of the NOx emissions in the Mecklenburg County area are a result of diesel engines and regulatory approaches are not feasible at a local level," said Leslie Rhodes, Director of Mecklenburg County Air Quality. Brian Wemple, the Piedmont Airlines Customer Service Support manager added, "We've had an interest in trying to reduce our fuel consumption, increase our efficiency and also provide benefits to the community that we operate large pieces of equipment with." With nearly $800,000 from the EPA and more than $2 million in matching funds, they were able to replace 96 pieces of Ground Support Equipment with electric equivalents.

To search DERA recipients by state, please visit https://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-national-grants#dera2

This third report to Congress presents the final results from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and covers fiscal years 2009-2011. It estimates the impacts from funding in fiscal years 2011-2013.

Additional report highlights include:

Environmental Benefits

18,900 tons of hydrocarbon prevented
4,836,100 tons of carbon dioxide prevented
450 million gallons of fuel saved

Public Health Benefits

Up to $12.6 billion in monetized health benefits
Up to 1,700 fewer premature deaths
Although not quantified in the report, NOx and PM reductions also prevent asthma attacks, sick days, and emergency room visits.

Program Accomplishments

642 grants funded
$570 million funds awarded
73,000 vehicles or engines retrofitted or replaced
81% of projects targeted to areas with air quality challenges
3:1 leveraging of funds from non-federal sources

For more information on the National Clean Diesel campaign, visit: http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel.

To access the Report, visit: http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-03/documents/420r16004.pdf