OOIDA applies to be a partner for $50 million EPA grant program

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 6/18/2008

The Environmental Protection Agency is focusing on small trucking operations for its new $50 million emissions reduction program, and OOIDA hopes to be one of several groups that will dole out the grant money.

On April 2, the EPA announced it will provide nearly $50 million in grants through the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program – a program authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The program is set up to fund the purchase of engine replacements, retrofits, and anti-idling devices such as APUs.

So far, OOIDA has applied to administer $2 million under the nationwide program and is submitting additional proposals for regional grant funds. OOIDA applied due to the Association’s knowledge of small businesses and particularly the needs of one-man, one-truck, long-haul operations, said Tom Weakley, director of operations for the OOIDA Foundation.

“Obviously, there are more and more idling restrictions being enforced,” Weakley said. “If we can get money to compensate some of the guys who can’t afford or are struggling to afford APUs and other devices, it will help them reduce fuel use and to meet greenhouse gas emission standards. That would be good for them and could possibly help save them from getting fines.”

The Association currently provides low-interest loans for engine retrofit and anti-idling devices and has a unique knowledge of truck purchase laws for different U.S. states, Weakley said. If the Association is awarded administration of the funds, OOIDA leaders plan to rebate small business truckers approximately 40 percent of the purchase price of APUs, engine replacements, retrofits, and other devices that cut diesel emissions.

“There’s no guarantee we’ll get that grant,” said Weakley. “We’ve made the application and we think we have an excellent shot at it. Obviously, I’m biased, but I think we meet the criteria they put forth. We have a database by which we can locate small businesses, and because the one we applied for is a national grant, we’re uniquely positioned to identify small businesses in the 48 contiguous states.”

The EPA has increasingly focused on the needs of small business truckers in recent years, Weakley said, and OOIDA has made a point of participating in focus groups to describe how small trucking companies operate.

“They’ve taken an active interest and have listened,” Weakley said. “They know the majority of trucks on the road are small businesses trying to make a living, and they are the ones least likely to be able to afford it. That’s the group they want to reach.”

OOIDA recently became an Associate Member of the EPA’s Smartway program – a voluntary partnership between transportation industry representatives and the EPA to reduce diesel emissions.

In its application to the EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program, OOIDA said it will collect idling information and other data from small businesses before they obtain emission reduction and anti-idling devices and after such devices are installed.

Eventually, the Association would have calculations showing the total reduction of emissions that result from the grant program.

EPA officials plan to announce selections for grant administrators before the fall, Weakley said.

Individual OOIDA members will be hearing from the Association if grant money is received, and the Association also would make a public announcement.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

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