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Searching For Middle Ground In Highway Debate

May 2008, TruckingInfo.com - Feature

by Oliver Patton, Washington Editor

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EPA Has $50 Million To Support Clean Air Retrofit

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has almost $50 million in grants to help trucking companies and others replace or clean up older diesel engines.

Congress authorized the money to help fleets replace engines that do not have modern clean-air technology, or to retrofit that technology.

EPA's rules have gone a long way toward cleaning up diesel emissions, said Margo Oge, director of EPA's Office of Transportation and Air Quality. They have led to a 90- to 95-percent reduction in ozone and particulate matter emissions over the past decade, but there still are some 11 million older engines that will remain in service for years - and they are the target of this federal program, Oge said.

Of the $49.2 million, $34.4 million will be granted to state, local and regional governments or non-profits with transportation, education or air quality missions. This includes $3.4 million for emerging retrofit technologies that are promising but have not yet been verified, and another $3.4 million for loan guarantees and low-cost loans for EPA's SmartWay Clean Diesel Finance Program, Oge said.

The balance of the money, $14.8 million, will be allocated on a state-by-state basis.

This year's funding is significantly higher than last year's $7 million, and President Bush has asked for another $50 million next year, Oge said. Congress has authorized as much as $250 million a year for five years.

Oge said that some 400,000 diesel engines have been retrofitted or replaced under the program. Half of those are off-road and the other half on-road, and most of the on-road engines were run by public fleets such as school bus and municipal operations.

Still, EPA wants more fleets - particularly smaller fleets - to take advantage of the program, Oge said.

The program supports a couple of dozen technologies such as diesel particulate filters and oxidation catalysts, as well as anti-idling technologies such as auxiliary power units and bunk heaters. For a complete list, go to the EPA website, www.epa.gov/cleandiesel, and look under Technologies.

Oge said carriers can call their EPA regional collaborative to get involved. There are seven collaboratives:

Northeast (Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey), Debbi Edelstein, 617-259-2080.

Mid-Atlantic (Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware, Washington, D.C.), Susan Stephenson, 443-901-1882.

Southeast (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida), Dale Aspy, 404-562-9041.

Midwest (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota), Steve Marquardt, 312-353-3214.

Blue Skyways (Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico, and the area along the borders with Canada and Mexico), Wes McQuiddy, 214-665-6722.

Rocky Mountain (Colorado, Utah, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana), Rebecca Russo, 303-312-6757.

West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico), Kristin Riha, 415-947-4140.

These organizations of state, local and private entities are designed to promote clean air initiatives, including funding and loan programs for emissions control equipment such as APUs. Rebecca Russo of the Rocky Mountain Collaborative said that individual carriers can join their regional collaborative for access to information.

For more information about these organizations, go to the EPA website, www.epa.gov/

cleandiesel, and click on Regional Collaboratives.

Russo also suggested that carriers go to the EPA SmartWay website (www.epa.gov/smartway) for more information.

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