PROVIDENCE, RI – Governor Dan McKee and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced today that DEM will receive $846,343 in grants from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to replace freight trucks and marine engines that move goods and services across the state and non-road port cargo-handling equipment serving the Port of Providence. The funding is coming through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) Program, a federal-state initiative run by EPA and state environmental agencies that protects human health and improves air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines, and was secured by DEM's Office of Air Resources (OAR).
"Rhode Island is a national leader in clean energy innovation and this EPA grant will further our Administration's goal of slashing greenhouse gases as we put Rhode Island on a more sustainable pathway to a future of net-zero emissions," said Governor McKee. "Thank you to our federal partners for these valuable grant dollars, which will be put to positive use making Rhode Island an even cleaner state."
"Human health, our environment, and climate change all are affected by diesel emissions," said DEM Director Terry Gray. "It is also a matter of environmental justice, as disadvantaged communities are often disproportionately impacted by this pollution. We have to continue to strategically target and reduce diesel emissions whenever and wherever we can — especially with the Act on Climate emissions mandates always on our minds. For these reasons, Rhode Island is very grateful for this DERA grant from EPA. Our partner recipients will use the funding to invest in cleaner engines and keep the local economy working while better protecting the health of vulnerable Rhode Islanders."
EPA provided DEM with $507,806 to support projects that protect human health and improve air quality by reducing harmful emissions from diesel engines. OAR then used the interest earned from VW Mitigation funds to match the EPA allocation, which awarded OAR the bonus amount of funds to focus on electric school bus applications, as well as scoring zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) vehicles higher than their diesel counterparts. This funding includes seven boat projects, three electric school buses, and three on-road, electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. The grant recipients include the marine vessels Barbara Ann of Campanale and Sons, Mud Turtle of George Mulligan, Briana James of James Leonard, Aces High of SilverFox Fisheries, C-Devil II Sportfishing, American Seafood, Oldport Marine Services, Newport Sport Fishing; and on-road vehicles for Westerly Public Schools, First Student, the City of Pawtucket, and Dave's Marketplace.
Although the EPA's program allows for many different types of projects, OAR's RFP solicited projects for on-road heavy duty vehicle replacement, marine engine replacements, and non-road vehicle replacements. This year's applicant pool was different, not only because of the number of applicants but also the types of vehicles involved. OAR focused on reducing NOx and PM emission, instead of averaging the emissions reductions together. OAR focused on electric school bus applications and fishing vessels, as well as scoring ZEV vehicles higher than their diesel counterparts.
Diesel engines and vehicles make up about a third of the entire transportation fleet in the United States. Diesel is the predominant fuel used for shipping goods and moving freight across the country and around the world. As a result of EPA regulations, diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner than ever before. But because diesel engines can operate for 30 years or more, millions of older, dirtier engines are still in use. The amount of sulfur in diesel fuel is directly linked to the amount of pollution produced when the fuel is burned in an engine. Higher levels of sulfur increase pollutants such as soot or particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, which contribute to the production of ground-level ozone (smog) and acid rain; hydrocarbons; carbon monoxide, and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and air toxics. This air pollution can cause heart and lung disease and a range of other health effects.