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EPA Report: Diesel Engine Clean-up Program Nets Major Air, Public Health Benefits

Release Date: 03/23/2016
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) Clean diesel grants aimed at cleaning up old diesel engines have greatly improved public health by cutting harmful pollution that causes premature deaths, asthma attacks, and missed school and workdays, according to a new report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Since its start in 2008, the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program has significantly improved air quality for communities across the country by retrofitting and replacing older diesel engines.

      Diesel exhaust significantly contributes to the formation of dangerous soot and smog and is likely to increase the risk of cancer. The funding from the program has helped clean up approximately 335,200 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 14,700 tons of particulate matter (PM), which are linked to a range of respiratory ailments and premature death. The program has also saved 450 million gallons of fuel and prevented 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from more than 900,000 cars. EPA estimates that clean diesel funding generates up to $13 of public health benefit for every $1 spent on diesel projects.

      “By cleaning up older diesel engines that generate air pollution, the EPA is protecting people’s health and making a visible difference in communities throughout N.Y., N.J., Puerto Rico and the US VI,” said EPA Regional Administrator, Judith A. Enck. “Federal funding to reduce diesel pollution has been helpful in reducing local air pollution that can lead to asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments and heart disease.”

      Operating throughout our transportation infrastructure today, over 10 million diesel engines -- the nation’s “legacy fleet” -- need to be replaced or repowered to reduce air pollutants. While some of these will be retired over time, many will remain in use, polluting America’s air for the next 20 years. DERA grants and rebates are gradually replacing legacy engines with cleaner diesel engines. Priority is given to fleets in regions with disproportionate amounts of diesel pollution, such as those near ports and rail yards.

      One Region 2 DERA recipient was the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA) who received a grant to retrofit 19 transit buses operating in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, N.Y. “As a regional public transportation provider for Erie and Niagara Counties, the NFTA takes pride in offering environmentally safe and efficient transit services for our entire region,” said Kimberley A. Minkel, NFTA Executive Director. “Funding awarded to the NFTA under the 2013 EPA National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program has gone a long way to helping us reduce emissions, conserve fuel and promote a healthier environment.”

      To search DERA recipients by state, please visit https://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/clean-diesel-national-grants#dera2

      This third report to Congress presents the final results from the American Investment and Recovery Act of 2009, and covers fiscal years 2009-2011. It estimates the impacts from funding in fiscal years 2011-2013.

      Additional report highlights include:

      Environmental Benefits
    18,900 tons of hydrocarbon prevented
    4,836,100 tons of carbon dioxide prevented
    450 million gallons of fuel saved

      Public Health Benefits
    Up to $12.6 billion in monetized health benefits
    Up to 1,700 fewer premature deaths
    Although not quantified in the report, NOx and PM reductions also prevent asthma attacks, sick days, and emergency room visits.

      Program Accomplishments
    642 grants funded
    $570 million funds awarded
    73,000 vehicles or engines retrofitted or replaced
    81% of projects targeted to areas with air quality challenges
    3:1 leveraging of funds from non-federal sources