Cash for clean air (and new trucks and equipment, too!)

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The DERA program has been particularly cost-effective for improving air quality, but it also provides local economic benefits, too

Looking to advance your green freight and sustainable supply chain initiatives? EPA has announced a call for projects through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Clean Diesel Program to provide funding for projects that improve air quality by reducing dirty diesel emissions. This year’s opportunity will provide $26 million for projects nationwide, and EPA expects to make 10 to 40 funding awards. To take advantage of this opportunity, it’s important to act now—the deadline is April 26, 2016.

We’ve written about some of the unique aspects of the DERA program before, and the current opportunity follows the same approach—an “eligible applicant” such as a regional, state, and local agency, port authority, or non-profit focused on air quality can “sponsor” one or many projects in partnership with fleets, technology providers, and other stakeholders that reduce diesel emissions from sources like heavy-duty trucks, nonroad diesel equipment (like those used on construction sites or at marine terminals, for example), locomotives in railyards, and even marine engines. Community partners are important participants for these projects, as well, and EPA encourages applicants to ensure that diverse stakeholders are included in any project.

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The DERA program has been particularly cost-effective for improving air quality (for each dollar invested in reducing diesel emissions, it is estimated that there are $13 in public health benefits!), but it also provides local economic benefits, too, by leveraging additional funding from non-federal sources. While funding has been available each year for the past few years because of strong bipartisan support, EPA made several improvements this year that should result in even greater emissions reductions:

  • First, EPA has made a strong commitment toward incentivizing the cleanest possible technologies available (including those that produce no emissions at the tailpipe) by providing additional incentives for electrified technologies.
  • Second, EPA has expanded eligibility criteria for non-road equipment. This is especially important for equipment used at seaport and marine terminal facilities since many port facilities have expanded operations to accommodate globalized trade.

Projects can include use of exhaust control technologies, engine upgrades, cleaner fuel use (in conjunction with other projects), idle reduction technology for some applications, aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires, engine repowers, and vehicle/equipment replacements. Depending on project type and selected technology, funding support can range from 25 to 100 percent of the cost.

EPA has indicated that when considering applications, certain types of projects will be given priority consideration, including those that occur at ports, rail yards, terminals, and distribution centers. Additionally, projects that help address needs of local communities facing environmental justice concerns will be given priority as well. Each EPA region has specified different proposal funding requirements; for example, Region 6, comprised of Texas and adjoining states, has provided guidance that requests range from $400,000 to $2.7 million in assistance.

Over the years, EDF’s work with ports and other freight facilities has helped to secure many DERA-funded grants for clean diesel projects.  Some of our recent efforts have included partnering with the Port of Houston and the Houston-Galveston Area Council, the Port of Baltimore, and others.

EDF encourages our partners in goods movement and freight to take advantage of the funding opportunity to continue the improvements Texas has made to date with clean air. The work is far from done, so let us know how we can help!

Image credit: Flickr/TruckPR

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