By Charlie Morasch
The diesel engine’s performance and longevity have made it a mainstay in trucking for decades. That longevity, however, means some older trucks stay in use for 20 to 30 years, polluting the air without the benefit of newer, emissions-cutting technology.
To address emissions created by diesel engine-powered trucks, public buses, off-road equipment and ships, the Environmental Protection Agency announced April 2 that it will dole out almost $50 million through a new grant authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The money will mostly be funneled through state and local government agencies and nonprofit air quality organizations to replace and retrofit the estimated 11 million diesel engines that predate EPA engine standards implemented during the past 10 years. Those engines include buses, off-highway farm and construction vehicles, and big trucks.
The grant money is split up between three different programs, each targeting emission reduction from a different direction. One allows grants for installation of EPA-verified and certified technology. Another sets aside money for new technology development. The third sets money aside for low-cost revolving loans.
Grant recipients can use the money to pay for EPA-verified retrofit and idle-reduction technology; EPA-certified engine upgrades; and vehicle or equipment replacements.
EPA regional offices will process some of the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program funding directly, and will be accepting requests for proposal applications from truck owners through the spring, according to EPA Spokesman Dave Ryan.
Applications can be found at epa.gov/otaq/diesel/prgnational.htm, with the applications divided by region.
The EPA hasn’t decided how it will classify trucking companies by size, but the $50 million program was designed to remove or retrofit engines for trucks owned by small companies, said Margo Oge, director of the EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality. EPA is working with the Small Business Administration to determine such a standard.
“We intend for this money to go to small companies and small fleet owners that need this kind of support,” Oge said. “Large companies will not qualify.” LL
“Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig contributed to this report.