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, the EPA says.
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.
“EPA is making a visible difference in communities that need it most through the funding of cleaner trucks, buses, trains and other heavy equipment,” said Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. “The report on DERA’s impact offers striking evidence that this program is succeeding in providing Americans with cleaner air where they live and work while also cutting the pollution that fuels climate change.”
Operating throughout the U.S. transportation infrastructure today, 10.3 million older diesel engines represent the nation’s “legacy fleet,” built before 2008. These 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, according to the EPA. 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.
This third report to Congress presents the final results from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and covers fiscal years 2009-’11. It also estimates the impacts from grants funded in fiscal years 2011-’13.
Additional report highlights include:
• 18,900 tons of hydrocarbon prevented
• 4,836,100 tons of CO2 prevented equivalent to the annual emissions from about 900,000 cars
• 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, the EPA says.
• 642 grants funded
• $570 million funds awarded
• 73,000 vehicles or engines retrofitted or replaced
• 81 percent of projects targeted to areas with air quality challenges
• 3:1 leveraging of funds from non-federal sources
For more information on the National Clean Diesel campaign, visit epa.gov/cleandiesel.
To access the report, click here.