By Mark S. kuhar
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available $2 million in funding for rebates to help public and private construction equipment owners replace or retrofit older diesel construction engines.
The rebates will reduce harmful pollution and improve air quality in local areas. “Exhaust from diesel construction equipment affects children, senior citizens and others in neighborhoods across the country,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These rebates will help equipment owners protect public health and improve air quality near construction sites while updating their fleets.”
“This new rebate program is a cost-effective means to apply our most advanced new clean diesel engines and clean air technologies to older but still valuable diesel-powered equipment that enables them to perform more like a new model. The net result is a more reliable and efficient machine for operators and lower emissions for all,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, an educational non-profit representing the manufacturers of diesel engines, vehicles, and equipment.
Rebates will be offered as part of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). This is the second rebate program offered since Congress reauthorized DERA in 2010 to allow rebates in addition to grants and revolving loans. The rebates will support the program’s effort to replace and update existing diesel vehicles, and will target where people are exposed to unhealthy air.
“This new rebate program dramatically streamlines the application process and reduces the burden from previous grant-based approaches. EPA has really worked hard to improve the process and reduce the paperwork required here down to a one-page application along with supporting documentation,” noted Schaeffer.
Since 2008, DERA has awarded more than $500 million to grantees across the country to retrofit, replace, or repower more than 50,000 vehicles. By cutting air pollution and preventing thousands of asthma attacks, emergency room visits and premature deaths, these clean diesel projects are projected to generate health benefits worth up to $8.2 billion.
Public and private construction equipment owners in eligible counties that are facing air quality challenges are encouraged to apply for rebates for the replacement or retrofit of construction equipment engines.
Applicants may submit one application that includes up to five engines. These five engines can be any combination of the technology options for a total maximum of $120,000 in rebate funding per applicant. The deadline to apply is Jan. 15, 2014, after which time grants will be awarded on a lottery system.
Construction equipment engines are very durable and can operate for decades. EPA has implemented standards to make diesel engines cleaner, but many older pieces of construction equipment remain in operation and predate these standards.
Older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). These pollutants are linked to health problems, including asthma, lung and heart disease, and even premature death. Equipment is readily available that can reduce emissions from these engines.
DERA has helped reduce emissions from older diesel-powered vehicles and equipment beginning since 2008. The U.S. EPA estimates that projects that received incentive funding between 2008 and 2010 reduced emissions of NOx, a smog forming compound, by 203,000 tons, reduced emissions of fine particles, or soot, by 12,500 tons and CO2 by 2.3 million tons.
“Upgrading the emissions performance of existing diesel engines and equipment through incentives such as rebates is a growing success story. Studies have shown that for every $1 in public investments made through DERA programs, attracts an additional $3 in non-federal matching funds including private sector investment to provide anywhere from $7 to $18 in benefits returns in the form of cleaner air and environmental benefits,” stated Schaeffer.