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“Greater Boston Breathes Better” Partnership Improving Air Quality in Metro Area New EPA Grant Spurs Additional Clean Air Efforts

Release Date: 11/16/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan (, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: November 16, 2005; Release # dd051110

(Boston) - As part of EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, EPA today presented a new grant for $120,000 to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to install advanced pollution controls on equipment used in construction projects in Massachusetts. The grant underscores EPA’s commitment to “Greater Boston Breathes Better,” a new partnership among EPA, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston and numerous local businesses and organizations to find innovative strategies for reducing pollution from transportation and construction sources in the Boston metropolitan area.

“The clean air results we achieve by working together will be expanded through Greater Boston Breathes Better,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office at today’s announcement at Boston’s City Hall. “This new grant will reduce diesel emissions at state construction projects, many of which are in environmental justice communities.”

Cars and trucks contribute more than half of New England’s nitrogen oxide emissions, a key ingredient in the formation of ozone smog. Diesel trucks, buses and other engines are significant contributors to air pollution, especially in urban areas. Through Greater Boston Breathes Better, or GB3, businesses, government agencies, and environmental and health organizations are working to find effective strategies for reducing these harmful emissions. Already GB3 partners have leveraged more than $8 million in federal, state and private funds to equip more than 1600 diesel vehicles in the Boston area with advanced pollution controls, reducing per vehicle emissions 30-90 percent.

Greater Boston Breathes Better partners include EPA, the Commonwealth, the cities of Boston, Cambridge and Medford, Massport, Sprague Energy, Burke Oil, Skanksa USA, MIT, Harvard University, Boston Coach, MASCO (representing the hospitals in the Longwood Medical Area), Environmental Defense, NESCAUM and the Asthma Regional Council (ARC).

"The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs supports the coalition of business, university and environmental advocates that EPA has brought together in the greater Boston area,” said Stephen R. Pritchard, Secretary of the Massachusetts EOEA. “We will use the grant funds to provide cleaner construction equipment in urban areas - one of a series of initiatives taken by my office and MassDEP to reduce air pollution and resulting health effects from diesel vehicles."

To address the problem of diesel emissions at construction sites, both the Massachusetts Highway Department and the MBTA have established requirements for the use of retrofitted equipment in all construction projects, reducing emissions on site. In addition, the Division of Capital Asset Management will establish a retrofit pilot program in an upcoming construction project. Massachusetts will use the new EPA grant funds to provide businesses with funding assistance to add pollution control technology to paving equipment such as pavers, millers and rollers. Funds will be directed to projects taking place in environmental justice communities, helping reduce air pollution in areas that are often disproportionately burdened by environmental risks.

"The Executive Office of Transportation has the largest clean-burning vehicle fleet in New England, and this grant will allow us to continue in the forefront of environmental leadership," said Transportation Secretary John Cogliano.

The number and variety of vehicles already retrofitted with technology to reduce harmful emissions in the Boston area by GB3 partners is impressive. Examples include:

    • The entire fleet of school buses in Boston and in Medford;
    • Every diesel powered tourist trolley operating in Downtown Boston;
    • The 17 buses serving Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard University’s Medical Schools;
    • 36 vehicles at Massport’s Conley Container Terminal in South Boston;
    • 10 Massport snow melters, used at all Massport facilities - Logan and Hanscom Airports, Conley Terminal, and the Fish Pier;
    • The City of Cambridge and MIT have teamed up to retrofit 32 vehicles and test a variety of cleaner fuels, including ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, biodiesel, and cetane enhancers.
Many fleets in Boston have also begun using cleaner diesel fuel, reducing harmful emissions between five and ten percent. Two GB3 partners, Steven Levy of Sprague Energy and Ed Burke of Burke Oil, have helped to make ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel available in Boston ahead of the Oct. 2006 scheduled date, and a number of fleets – the MBTA, Boston Public Schools, MASCO – are already using it. In addition, Harvard University is using biodiesel in all of its diesel vehicles, and the city of Boston has begun using a blend of biodiesel and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel in its vehicles.

"The City of Boston is committed to working with GB3 stakeholders and implementing effective strategies to address mobile source pollution throughout Boston neighborhoods," said James W. Hunt, Chief of Environment and Energy for the City of Boston. "This is an integral part of the Menino Administration's ongoing effort to improve public health, the environment, and the quality of life for residents and visitors of the City of Boston.”

GB3 partners are also working to reduce unnecessary vehicle idling. For example, Boston Coach has established a robust anti-idling policy for all of its buses and limos.

To help school communities, environmental officials, and others make informed decisions about ways to reduce harmful diesel emissions from school buses, the Asthma Regional Council has developed an electronic toolkit that provides environmental and public health information as well as sample anti-idling outreach materials.

Laurie Stillman, Executive Director of the Asthma Regional Council of New England commented, "So far, our efforts to control diesel emissions have been focused on transportation sources, such as buses and trains. But diesel, which is a powerful lung irritant and carcinogen, is emitted by a number of other sources as well. I'm pleased to see that the EPA is now broadening its diesel pollution agenda. This news is good for Boston, good for the air and good for our lungs!"

Other GB3 partners, such as the Artery Business Committee TMA, the Charles River TMA, EPA, the City of Boston, Environmental Defense, Harvard University and MIT are taking further steps to reduce emissions from automobiles:

    • 71 employers in the Greater Boston area, including many GB3 partners, have earned the designation of being one of New England’s Best Workplaces for Commuters, providing incentives to employees to commute using transit, vanpool or carpool, walking or biking, to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.
    • In the past three years, EPA New England has improved the fuel efficiency of its fleet from 21 mpg to 30 mpg by upgrading our fleet with more fuel efficient vehicles and by adding seven hybrid-electric vehicles.'
    • The City of Boston is initiating a new fleet procurement policy requiring new purchases be hybrid or alternative fuel whenever possible.
Finally, despite the many accomplishments already achieved, GB3 partners have set additional ambitious targets to further reduce vehicle emissions during the next two years:
    • Ensure that every government agency, medical and educational institution in greater Boston is taking steps to reduce construction-related diesel emissions with advanced pollution controls and/or cleaner diesel fuel.
    • Engage 100 businesses in innovative programs that reduce air pollution, such as car sharing, Best Workplaces for Commuters, and anti-idling campaigns.
    • Increase the use of cleaner low sulfur diesel fuel in marine engines operating in Boston Harbor ahead of the federally mandated schedule, and find opportunities to add advanced pollution controls to these engines.
Massachusetts is one of only ten recipients nationwide of the latest Clean Diesel grants, sharing in more than $1 million of new EPA grant dollars targeting diesel emissions. For more information about Greater Boston Breathes Better, see: .

For more information about EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign, see:

Related Information:
Boston Breathes Better
Diesel Exhaust
Clean School Bus USA
Air Enforcement