SPECIAL REPORT: EPA taking applications for retrofit grants

| 4/8/2008

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 – To reduce harmful emissions created by diesel engines, the Environmental Protection Agency announced April 2 it will dole out $50 million through a new grant authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The program specifically targets small trucking companies and won’t allow any funds for large companies, agency officials said in a teleconference. Instead, small trucking companies and other businesses are encouraged to apply for engine replacements and retrofits through the program.

The money will mostly be funneled through state and local government agencies and non-profit air quality organizations to replace and retrofit the estimated 11 million diesel engines that pre-date EPA engine standards implemented during the last 10 years. Those engines include buses, off-highway farm and construction vehicles, and heavy-duty trucks.

The grant money is split up between three different programs:

  • National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program – contains the majority of the funding dedicated to deployment of EPA-verified and certified technologies. This component will be administered by EPA’s regional offices. $27.6 million is available for Fiscal Year 2008.
  • National Clean Diesel Emerging Technologies Program – fosters the deployment of innovative technologies through a national grant competition. To qualify as an emerging technology, a manufacturer must submit an approvable application and test plan for verification to EPA. Approximately $3.4 million is available for fiscal year 2008.
  • National Clean Diesel Finance Program – allows EPA for the first time to issue competitive grants to establish low-cost revolving loans or other financing programs that will provide funding to fleets to reduce diesel emissions. About $3.4 million is available for fiscal year 2008.

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 request for proposal applications from truck owners through the spring, according to EPA Spokesman Dave Ryan. Those applications can be found athttp://www.epa.gov/otaq/diesel/prgnational.htm, with the applications divided by region.

For more information, visit epa.gov/cleandiesel, or email CleanDiesel@epa.gov.

EPA’s diesel engine emission standards for 2007 and 2010 drastically reduce emissions of oxides of nitrogen and diesel particulate matter, EPA officials explained. However, the diesel engine’s longevity and reliability have allowed many trucks, boats and other engines to remain in use for decades while releasing higher emission totals than newer diesel technologies. The $50 million grant program addresses those older engines.

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.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer.

 “Land Line Now” Host Mark Reddig contributed to this report.