Three New England projects have been awarded nearly two million dollars under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) competitive national grant competition to reduce diesel emissions.
The grants, totaling $1,975,000, were made under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). The funding will assist the Connecticut Maritime Foundation, the Massachusetts Port Authority and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in marine vessel repowering and vehicle replacement projects.
Diesel engines contribute significantly to air pollution, especially in urban areas. The fine particles in diesel exhaust pose serious health risks, including aggravated asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Children are especially vulnerable to these effects. The Northeast has some of the highest asthma rates in the U.S., including a childhood asthma rate above 10 percent in all six New England states.
“Reducing diesel emissions is a proven and effective way to improve air quality. Investing in clean diesel projects in New England will protect people’s health, improve air quality and help our economy by keeping jobs here in our communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. “Reducing diesel emissions means cleaner air for everyone, which is especially important for people who suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems.”
Specifically, the Connecticut Maritime Foundation, in partnership with Cross Sound Ferry Services, Inc., has been awarded $800,000 to repower two propulsion and four auxiliary engines on two marine ferries. This project is expected to reduce annual nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) emissions by an estimated 29 tons, 1.34 tons and 3,331 tons, respectively, in addition to conserving fuel.
“We value the opportunity to work with EPA on this project of repowering the New London and Cape Henlopen ferries. This project advances the environmental improvement goals for our fleet of vessels, an effort which began almost 10 years ago by deploying new, efficient, low emission engines to improve air quality locally and throughout the region,” said John P. Wronowski, owner and president of Cross Sound Ferry Services, Inc.
Also, the Massachusetts Port Authority has been awarded $800,000 to replace 26 drayage trucks that service the Conley shipping terminal in Boston and distribution centers throughout eastern New England. Once completed, the project is expected to reduce annual nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 12.5 tons, 0.99 tons and 72.2 tons, respectively, in addition to conserving fuel.
“As Massport continues to invest in making our operations more environmentally-friendly, we are grateful for the continued support from the EPA in helping reduce emissions at the Conley Container Terminal,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn. “This grant will allow us to continue the successful DERA program that has reduced emissions and improved air quality for our neighbors in South Boston, all while Massport is making investments to improve efficiency at New England’s only full service container terminal.”
In addition, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has been awarded $375,000 to replace five service vehicles with newer vehicles built to current air pollution emissions standards. Once completed, the project is expected to reduce annual nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by an estimated 0.35 tons, 0.03 tons and 65.9 tons, respectively, in addition to conserving fuel.
Since 2000, the MBTA has launched a series of projects designed to not only reduce energy consumption (with a corresponding reduction in greenhouse gases) but also focus on the MBTA’s budget and provide cost savings. “This DERA grant will help the MBTA work towards reducing our energy consumption and upgrading our fleet to the cleanest vehicles available in partnership with EPA,” said MBTA Acting General Manager, Brian Shortsleeve.
The awards will cover 25 percent of project costs for vehicle replacements and 40 percent for ferry engine repowers. Grant recipients will cover the remainder of the costs needed to complete these projects. These New England projects are part of nearly $28 million in grant funds awarded by EPA nationwide for clean diesel projects in 2016.
In addition to the competitive grants program, in 2016, EPA also awarded through DERA a total of approximately $1.4 million to the six New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont to support their state efforts to reduce diesel pollution.