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U.S. EPA funds over $2 million for Kern County clean air projects

Release Date: 09/01/2010
Contact Information: Cara Peck, 415-972-3382, peck.cara@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced more than $2 million in funding for air quality improvement projects in Kern County. The money, funded through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and other sources will result in cleaner air and improved public health. Since 2007, EPA has provided over $29 million to projects in California’s San Joaquin Valley to improve air quality in our nation’s agricultural hub. This funding is being used to retrofit and replace hundreds of diesel vehicles and equipment, including additional school buses, long-haul trucks, agricultural tractors and pumps, construction equipment and locomotives. These projects translate to over $146 million in public health benefits for people who live and work in the Valley.

“The funding to Kern County Schools will reduce harmful tailpipe exhaust from school buses, so our children can breathe easier.” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Region. “The San Joaquin Valley is burdened by some of the worst air quality in the country, and improving it is an urgent priority for EPA.”

“Given the Valley’s enormous air-quality challenges, strong grant programs such as this are needed to complement our comprehensive regulatory program,” said Seyed Sadredin, executive director of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “Incentive programs are critical to get the Valley into attainment as quickly as possible.”

EPA has awarded over $2 million to the Kern County superintendent of Schools, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and to the California Air Resources Board to fund projects in Kern County, including replacing school buses, long-haul trucks, and agriculture and construction equipment.

"Since 2007, $780,000 in EPA funds has been used to acquire buses powered by clean-burning, alternative fuels which benefit our students and community," said Kern County Superintendent of Schools Christine Lizardi Frazier.

In total, these retrofits will result in the reduction of more than 1,800 tons of particulate matter, over 37,000 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and close to 3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year. In addition, because of the reduced particulate matter, public health will benefit, resulting in an estimated cost savings of over $146 million, from reduced medical needs, lost school and work days, and premature mortality.

Diesel-powered vehicles are the workhorses of our economy, yet they produce emissions that pose a significant public health problem. Emissions from diesel engines - especially the microscopic soot known as “particulate matter” (PM) - can include effects on breathing and respiratory systems, damage to lung tissue, cancer, and premature death. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.

As part of the $29 million in clean diesel funding, $1.6 million is dedicated to accelerate the development and deployment of clean air technologies through the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Technology Advancement Program. Without new technologies the Valley will not achieve clean air. Demonstrating those technologies here will bring much needed green jobs to Kern County.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) which authorized $200 million per year for five years to support EPA in reducing diesel emissions. In 2009, Congress provided $300 million for DERA programs through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Since 2008, when DERA funds were first awarded, EPA’s West Coast Collaborative has funded hundreds of projects, resulting in over $3 billion in public health benefits. DERA will expire in 2011 without Congressional reauthorization.

To view the e-media kit for this announcement, please visit:
http://www.epa.gov/region9/mediacenter/dera/index.html

For more information about the West Coast Collaborative, please visit:
www.westcoastcollaborative.org

For more information on USEPA’S National Clean Diesel Campaign, please visit:
www.epa.gov/diesel/

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