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EPA awards $389,000 to Gila River Indian Community for cleaner diesel equipment

Release Date: 02/18/2016
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, 415-947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO–The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided $389,000 in Diesel Emission Reduction Act funding to the Gila River Indian Community in Ariz. to replace four construction vehicles operating at Gila River Farms. EPA announced the grant at a Clean Diesel Workshop with the GRIC in Phoenix, one of three Clean Diesel Workshops the EPA is co-hosting throughout Arizona this week.

“Replacing older, dirtier diesel equipment with clean diesel backhoes and other construction vehicles protects the health of residents and workers,” Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This project to reduce harmful diesel emissions is a great example of how collaboration between federal, tribal, and regional government partners can make a difference in our local communities.”

The GRIC is an Indian reservation located south of Phoenix, Ariz., in Pinal and Maricopa counties. The community is home for members of both the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and the Pee-Posh (Maricopa) tribes. The GRIC received the grant through the 2015 EPA DERA Tribal grant program, and was combined with $389,465 in matching funds from Gila River Farms.

By replacing heavy-duty diesel construction vehicles with newer, cleaner, Tier 4 engine vehicles, this project will reduce agriculture workers’ exposure to diesel emissions reducing the negative health effects associated with exposure. Exposure to diesel exhaust has been associated with decreased lung function and development and can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.

This program is part of the West Coast Collaborative, a clean air partnership that leverages public and private funds to reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources in impacted communities. Since 2008, public, private and tribal partners in Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have received over $115 million in DERA funding to retrofit, repower and replace old, polluting diesel vehicles, vessel and equipment. Through existing collaborative partnerships and future DERA appropriations, the West Coast Collaborative will continue to leverage resources to advance diesel emission reductions in the western United States. DERA is scheduled to sunset in 2016.

The agency is also working with the tribe through its Making a Visible Difference in Communities efforts. GRIC is one of 5 environmentally burdened communities in the Pacific Southwest selected to receive technical assistance over the next two years. As the Phoenix area continues to expand, the reservation may face increasing pressures on development, housing, and transportation. Therefore, EPA is directing additional resources to advance the tribe’s sustainability goals related to green buildings, solar energy, cleaner transportation, and materials management, including recycling and composting.

The workshops the EPA is co-hosting in Arizona this week are with the Gila River Indian Community in Phoenix, the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition in Scottsdale, and the Tucson Clean Cities Coalition in Tucson. The workshops are aimed at raising awareness of the air quality and health benefits of clean diesel technologies and best practices, as well as the availability of funding resources.

To learn more about the West Coast Collaborative and the DERA-funded projects in the western states, visit: www.westcoastcollaborative.org

For more information about EPA’s Making a Visible Difference Communities, visit: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/making-visible-difference-communities

For information about the Gila River Indian Community and the Clean Diesel Workshop, visit: http://www.gilariver.org and http://www.gricdeq.org/announcements.html

For information about the Valley of the Sun Clean Cities Coalition, visit: https://cleancities.energy.gov/coalitions/phoenix

For information about the Tucson Clean Cities Coalition, visit: https://cleancities.energy.gov/coalitions/tucson