Diesel Retrofit News - 2014

December 19, 2014

San Joaquin Valley to Use FY 2014 DERA Award to Replace Medium-Duty Diesel Trucks – At its November 13, 2014 Governing Board meeting, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District announced that it has received $677,214 in DERA funds from the U.S. EPA to help fund the replacement of approximately 48 MY 1991-2003 medium-duty diesel trucks operating within the San Joaquin Valley with newer, cleaner vehicles.  The DERA award was made through EPA’s FY 2014 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program.  Combined with a required District match of $1,276,646, the grant will provide 35% of the total truck cost, up to $40,000 per truck, for the 48 new trucks.  This funding is expected to result in the reduction of 303 tons of NOx and 14 tons of PM over the life of the projects.  For more information, go to:  www.valleyair.org/newsed/BoardHighlights/2014/November-2014-highlights.pdf.

December 12, 2014

Congress Announces FY 2015 Spending Bill, EPA Budget Cut from $8.2 Billion to $8.14 Billion – On December 9, 2014, House and Senate lawmakers unveiled their compromise FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill totaling $1.014 trillion to fund most of the federal government through September 30, 2015 (the Department of Homeland Security gets an extension only through February 27).  The legislation was passed by the House late Thursday and is expected to be passed by the Senate by week’s end.  President Obama supports the bill and said he would sign it.

The Interior and Environment bill provides $8.14 billion for the U.S. EPA, $60 million less than the FY 2014 enacted level of $8.2 billion and $250 million more than the President’s budget request.  Of the $8.14 billion, EPA operating programs funded through the Environmental Programs and Management appropriation receive $2.61 billion.  This amount is $11 million less than the FY 2014 enacted level and $124 million less than the budget request.  Most of the cuts in the new budget target the agency’s science and technology fund, which funds much of the agency’s scientific research work.  That account would drop from $759.2 million in FY 2014 to $734.6 million in the current year.  The State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) account, which includes the state revolving funds (SRFs), EPA’s categorical grants, and other funding assistance programs, is slated to rise slightly from $3.53 billion to $3.54 billion.  Appropriations for the categorical grants specifically are proposed to continue at FY 2014 levels, with the bill funding the program at $1.054 billion.  The bill also includes $30 million for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA), an increase of $10 million over the FY 2014 DERA allocation of $20 million (President Obama had eliminated funding for DERA in his budget request).

Regarding air-related policy provisions, the legislation does not contain any riders to block the agency’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules for power plants.  EPA still intends to finalize its GHG rule for new power plants in January and its climate rule for existing plants in the summer.  Nevertheless, the bill does include some policy restrictions on EPA, including requiring the agency to prepare a comprehensive report on climate change programs that it pursued in FY 2014 and that it will pursue in FY 2015.  The bill also continues an existing bar on GHG reporting and permit mandates related to emissions from livestock and manure, as well as continues the “Buy American” requirements for iron and steel products purchased through the SRF programs.

For a detailed summary of the FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, go to:  www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/summary-fiscal-year-2015-omnibus-appropriations-bill.

EPA Awards FY 2014 DERA Grant for Repowering Cape May-Lewes Ferry – On December 8, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that they have awarded a $975,000 FY 2014 DERA grant to the Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) for a project that will reduce diesel emissions on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.  The grant will support repowering the current propulsion engines in the ferry boat M/V Delaware with newer EPA-certified engines that are anticipated to reduce NOx emissions by 39.7 tons and PM emissions by nearly half a ton (a reduction of nearly 40% in overall emissions), as well as reduce fuel use by 39,600 gallons annually and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 443 tons.  In addition, DRBA expects to save approximately $130,000 per year in maintenance costs associated with old engines.  The year-round Cape May-Lewes Ferry service is a part of the Mid-Atlantic regional transportation infrastructure, carrying about 800,000 passengers and 300,000 vehicles annually on a 14-mile route between Lewes, DE, and Cape May, NJ.  For more information, go to:  yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/fae5256bf365456985257da800637caf!OpenDocument.

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $477,898, Includes Funds for Clean Vehicles Program in Houston – On December 10, 2014, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved penalties totaling $401,650 against 30 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations, including six penalties for air quality violations.  Included in the total is a fine of $126,560 against MEMC Pasadena, Inc., in Harris County for air quality violations investigated back on June 17, 2013.  Of that amount, $63,280 will be used by the Houston-Galveston Area Council for its Clean Vehicles Program.  The program provides grants to fleets and fuel providers interested in deploying cleaner technologies (e.g., retrofits, repowers, replacements, alternative fuel conversions, anti-idling devices).  For more information, go to:  www.tceq.state.tx.us/news/releases/12-14Agenda12-10

November 21, 2014

EPA Awards $495,000 in DERA Funds for Marine Repower Projects in Massachusetts – On November 12, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that it has awarded $495,000 in DERA funds for two marine repower projects in Massachusetts.  CLF Ventures, Inc., has received $300,000 to repower the tugboat Navigator, and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) has been awarded $195,000 to repower two commercial lobster boats.  The DERA grants were awarded under EPA’s FY 2014 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program.  The two projects fall within areas of Suffolk and Bristol counties, both identified by EPA as having high levels of emissions from diesel engines.

The grant to CLF Ventures, Inc., will provide funding to repower the Navigator, a tugboat operating in New Bedford harbor.  In partnership with Riverside Marine Construction, Inc., this project will replace two unregulated and two EPA Tier 1 diesel marine engines with cleaner EPA Tier 3-certified marine diesel engines.  NESCAUM has partnered with the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association to repower two unregulated diesel marine engines with cleaner EPA Tier 3-certified marine engines.  The vessels in the NESCAUM grant operate out of Boston and Beverly.

These grants will cover up to 40% of the equipment and labor costs for each of the marine engine repowers.  Once completed, the two projects are expected to reduce NOx, PM, and CO2 emissions by an estimated 16.35 tons, 0.79 tons, and 170.8 tons, respectively, in addition to conserving over 15,296 gallons of fuel annually.

For more information, go to:  yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/d8c66802a3c1632985257d8e005999ce!OpenDocument.

EPA, DOJ Settle with Fertilizer Producer over CAA Violations, Includes SEP Requiring SCR Installation – On November 6, 2014, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that three subsidiaries of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), the world’s largest fertilizer producer, will take steps to reduce harmful air emissions at eight U.S. production plants.  The settlement resolves claims that these PCS subsidiaries violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when they modified facilities in ways that released excess sulfur dioxide (SO2) into surrounding communities.

The settlement requires PCS Nitrogen Fertilizer, AA Sulfuric Inc., and White Springs Agricultural Chemicals Inc. to install, upgrade, and operate state-of-the-art pollution reduction measures, as well as install continuous emission monitors at eight sulfuric acid plants across facilities in Aurora, NC (three plants), White Springs, FL (four plants), and Geismar, LA (one plant).  The three companies will spend an estimated $50 million on these measures and will pay a $1.3 million civil penalty.  The settlement also resolves alleged violations based on Louisiana law at the Geismar facility, and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality will receive $350,000 of the $1.3 million civil penalty.

EPA expects the actions that the companies have agreed to take will reduce emissions by over 13,090 tons per year, which includes approximately 12,600 tons per year of SO2, 430 tons per year of ammonia, and 60 tons per year of NOx.  In the future, the companies can also retire plants to comply with the settlement.

The settlement also includes a supplemental environmental project (SEP), estimated to cost between $2.5 and $4 million, to protect the community around a PCS Nitrogen nitric acid plant in Geismar.  The SEP requires PCS Nitrogen to install and operate an SCR system on a co-located nitric acid plant at the Geismar facility and comply with a 0.6 lb/ton NOx limit.  EPA says this SEP will result in significant emission reductions of NOx (60 tpy) and ammonia (430 tpy).

This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes acid production plants, under the CAA’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) requirements.  It is the 10th settlement reached under EPA’s National Acid Manufacturing Plant Initiative and the seventh settlement addressing pollution from sulfuric acid plants.  EPA says this settlement covers more sulfuric acid production capacity – roughly 24,000 tons per day or approximately 14% of total U.S. capacity – than all previous sulfuric acid settlements under this initiative combined.

For more information on this settlement, go to:  www2.epa.gov/enforcement/pcs-nitrogen-fertilizer-clean-air-act-settlement.

November 14, 2014

EPA Awards $208,000 DERA Grant to Retrofit Transit Buses in Puerto Rico with DPFs – On November 13, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that it has awarded $208,000 in FY 2014 DERA funds to the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Bus Authority to retrofit 17 transit buses in San Juan with diesel emission reduction devices (i.e., DPFs).  The project is expected to reduce emissions of PM2.5 by more than 10 tons over the life of the buses.  The areas where the cleaner buses will operate include the cities of Bayamon, Carolina, Cataño, Guaynabo, Loíza, San Juan, Toa Baja, and Trujillo Alto.  On an average day, the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Bus Authority system carries 15,000 bus passengers.  For more information, go to: yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/ac08778202c8764d85257d8f0054214e!OpenDocument.

Montana DEQ Awards DERA Grant for New Diesel School Buses – On October 29, 2014, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that five school districts in western Montana are slated to receive almost $240,000 in DERA grant funding through DEQ to replace ten older diesel school buses with diesel buses that meet current emission standards.  The school districts will match the grants with additional funding for a total of more than $1 million to purchase the new buses.  The Kalispell and Libby School Districts will purchase three buses; the East Helena School District will purchase two; Troy and Charlo School Districts will each purchase one bus.  Each bus costs between $88,000 and $110,000.

The Montana DEQ was awarded a national DERA grant by the U.S. EPA earlier this year (FY 2013 DERA funding) and partnered with schools to replace MY 1997-2003 diesel-powered C and D type school buses with MY 2013 clean diesel school buses.  DEQ targeted designated air sheds in Deer Lodge, Flathead, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Sanders, and Silver Bow Counties.  Provisions of the program require replaced buses be pulled from service and sent to recycling.  Almost 2,800 school buses operate throughout Montana school districts, according to Montana’s Office of Public Instruction.

For more information, go to:  svc.mt.gov/deq/press/pressDetail.asp?id=1449.

Michigan DEQ Announces Availability of Funding for Clean Diesel Vehicle Replacements – On November 10, 2014, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that it is now accepting grant proposals from non-profits, municipalities, school districts, businesses, and port authorities in Michigan for the implementation of clean diesel vehicle replacement projects.  Approximately $125,000 in DERA funding is available.  The funding comes from Michigan’s allocation under the U.S. EPA’s FY 2014 State Clean Diesel Program.  Both highway diesel vehicles and nonroad diesel vehicles/equipment are eligible for funding.

For both highway diesel vehicles and nonroad diesel vehicles/equipment, DEQ will fund the incremental cost of a newer, cleaner vehicle/piece of equipment powered by an engine certified to 2013 MY or newer standards, up to 25% of the cost of an eligible replacement vehicle/piece of equipment.  For drayage trucks specifically, DEQ will fund up to 25% of the cost of eligible drayage trucks with a 2010 MY or newer heavy-duty diesel engine equipped with a DPF.  Replacement projects can also include the replacement of diesel vehicles/equipment with electric (battery or fuel cell), hybrid, or alternative fuel vehicles/equipment.  Marine vessels and locomotives are not eligible for replacement.

Proposals are due by December 5, 2014.

For more information, go to:  www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3310_30151_30313-198413--,00.html.

October 17, 2014

EPA Announces FY 2014 DERA Rebate Program for School Bus Replacements – On October 15, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced the opening of the FY 2014 DERA School Bus Replacement Funding Opportunity that will provide rebate incentives to selected eligible applicants to replace school buses powered by MY 2006 or older engines with new buses powered by a certified MY 2014 or newer engine.  EPA anticipates having up to $3,000,000 available for rebates, subject to availability of funds.  The rebate amounts are:  $15,000 for a Class 3-5 bus, $20,000 for a Class 6-7 bus, and $25,000 for a Class 8 bus.  Applicants may submit only one rebate application that includes up to five eligible replacement school buses.

Eligible applicants include regional, state, local, or Tribal agencies with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, including school districts and municipalities.  Private entities that operate school buses under a contract to provide transportation services to a public school district are also eligible.

Buses listed for replacement must be:

  • Diesel-powered Class 3 through Class 8 school buses powered by a MY 2006 or older engine are eligible for replacement;
  • Able to start, move in all directions, and have all operational parts; and
  • Have accumulated at least 10,000 or more miles over the most recent 12 months, or been in use for at least three days per week during the current school year.

All replacement buses must meet the following criteria:

  • Powered by a certified MY 2014 or newer engine, or operate solely on electricity. Eligible replacement school buses may operate on conventional diesel (ULSD), battery or hybrid drive trains, or alternative fuels;
  • The same or smaller vehicle class as the original school bus and operate in the same manner and over similar routes as the original school bus; and
  • Meet Federal safety standards and required warranties.

EPA will accept applications until November 17, 2014.  All applications that are submitted to EPA by the deadline will be assigned a unique identification number.  Applicants will then be selected through a random number generator.  EPA will select at least one applicant from each EPA Region, provided each Region has an eligible applicant.  EPA will also select at least one Tribal applicant, provided at least one eligible Tribal entity applies.  EPA will notify selectees in December 2014.

For more information about the FY 2014 DERA Rebate Program, go to:  epa.gov/cleandiesel/dera-rebate-schoolbus14.htm.

October 10, 2014

ARB Fines Vallejo Citizens Transit $388,000 for Air Quality Violations, Includes Funds for School Bus Retrofits – On October 8, 2014, ARB announced that it has fined the Vallejo Citizens Transit Co., a subsidiary of Dallas, TX-based MV Transportation, Inc., $387,750 for serious air quality violations that occurred when it was under contract for bus services to the City of Vallejo.

ARB began its investigation in 2010 when an informant alleged ongoing tampering of diesel particulate filters by the company.  After conducting two inspections, ARB staff confirmed that the filters and backpressure sensors were tampered with on multiple diesel-powered buses owned by the City of Vallejo but serviced and operated under contract by Vallejo Citizens Transit Co. (VCTC).  Investigators also discovered that VCTC’s maintenance personnel were using a power washer to clean the filters.  This practice damages the filters by causing the accumulated soot and ash to harden and plug the filters leading to cracking and premature failure.  VCTC violations included failing to:  properly maintain DPFs; regularly self-inspect its diesel vehicles as required by state law; comply with emission control label regulations; and comply with urban bus emission reduction requirements.

During its initial efforts to settle the case, ARB staff met with VCTC representatives on several occasions but no agreement was reached, and the case was referred to the Office of the Attorney General for litigation in Solano County Superior Court.  The case was settled through mediation on April 29, 2014.  Since the case began in 2010, the cities of Vallejo and Benicia merged their transit agencies, which are now doing business under a Joint Powers Authority as Sol-Trans.  To bring its transit fleet back into compliance, the City of Vallejo purchased and installed new DPFs and also replaced some buses.  The city ended its contract with VCTC in mid-2013 and the company has since dissolved, although MV Transportation, Inc., continues to operate subsidiaries in 29 states.

As outlined in the settlement agreement, VCTC paid $290,000 to ARB’s Air Pollution Control Fund to support air quality research.  The company also paid $97,750 to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District School Bus Supplemental Environmental Project.  These funds will be used to retrofit older school buses with DPFs so that they are in compliance with the state’s Truck and Bus Regulation.

More information on this is available at:  www.arb.ca.gov/newsrel/newsrelease.php?id=662.

September 26, 2014

EPA Announces Availability of $5 Million in FY 2014 DERA Funding for Clean Diesel Projects at Ports – On September 22, 2014, the U.S. EPA opened its second Request for Proposals (RFP) for clean diesel projects aimed at reducing emissions from marine and inland water ports located in areas of poor air quality.  (EPA’s first ports RFP, using FY 2013 DERA funds, was released in December 2013 and awards were announced in April 2014.)  The total estimated FY 2014 DERA funding for this latest competition is approximately $5 million.  EPA anticipates awarding two to five cooperative agreements from this announcement.  (Applicants cannot request more than $2 million in funding.)

Under this solicitation, only public port authorities or state and local government agencies with jurisdiction over transportation and air quality are eligible to apply for funding.  (Note: The addition of state and local government agencies as eligible entities for this RFP is a change from the FY 2013 ports RFP.)  Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities involved in port operations are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible port authorities and state/local government agencies.

Projects must reduce diesel emissions at a marine or inland water port located in an area of poor air quality.  A list of eligible counties and areas can be found at:  www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/documents/fy14-ports-county-area-list.pdf.  Eligible diesel vehicles, engines, and equipment include: drayage trucks; marine engines; locomotives; and nonroad engines, equipment, or vehicles used in the handling of cargo at a marine or inland water port.

Eligible diesel emission reduction strategies include:

  • Verified Exhaust Control Technologies: EPA will fund up to 100% of the cost of eligible verified exhaust control technologies.
  • Verified/Certified Engine Upgrades: EPA will fund up to 40% of the cost (labor and equipment) of eligible engine upgrades.
  • Verified Idle Reduction Technologies:
    • Verified Locomotive Idle Reduction Technologies: EPA will fund up to 40% of the cost of eligible idle reduction technologies on locomotives.
    • Verified Marine Shore Connection Systems: EPA will fund up to 25% of the cost of eligible shore connection systems.
  • Certified Engine Repower: EPA will fund up to 40% of the cost (labor and equipment) of an eligible engine repower.
  • Certified Vehicle/Equipment Replacement:
    • Nonroad Diesel Vehicles and Equipment: EPA will fund the incremental cost of a newer, cleaner vehicle or piece of equipment powered by a model year 2013 or newer certified nonroad diesel engine, up to 25% of the cost of an eligible replacement vehicle or piece of equipment.
    • Drayage Truck Replacement: EPA will fund up to 50% of the cost of eligible drayage trucks with a 2011 model year or newer heavy-duty engine.
  • Clean Alternative Fuel Conversions: EPA will fund up to 40% of the cost (labor and equipment) of an eligible clean alternative fuel conversion.

Informational webinars for this funding opportunity will be held on October 7 and October 16.  Further details on the webinars are available via the website link below.

The closing date for receipt of proposals is December 11, 2014.

For more information about the FY 2014 ports RFP, go to:  www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.

September 19, 2014

EPA OIG Report Summarizes Findings of Previous DERA Audits – As part of the U.S. EPA Office of the Inspector General’s oversight of the Office of Air and Radiation’s (OAR) awarding of assistance agreements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, OIG has issued six separate reports on specific assistance agreements involving the agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program.  On September 15, 2014, OIG issued a new report that:  1) summarized the findings reported under the assistance agreement audit reports and 2) identified any commonalities or overarching issues that impacted the recipients’ abilities to meet their grant objectives and comply with federal regulations.

The seven assistance agreements included in these six reports represented $26,737,810 of the approximately $294 million of Recovery Act DERA money awarded by EPA.  The six recipients included four non-profit organizations and two state agencies.

OIG’s review of the six prior audits identified three common overarching issues:

  • Four of the six recipients did not meet all the objectives of the award.
  • Five of the six recipients did not have a financial management systems that met federal requirements that applied to the grant award.
  • Four of the six recipients did not meet Recovery Act requirements.

As a result, OIG questioned a total of $23.8 million of the $26.3 million claimed under the assistance agreements.

In addition to the six audits noted, the OIG had conducted an evaluation to determine whether selected Recovery Act awards were effective in obtaining diesel retrofits and intended diesel emission reductions.  That evaluation, “EPA Should Improve Guidance and Oversight to Ensure Effective Recovery Act-Funded Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Activities” (Report No. 11-R-0141), was issued March 1, 2011 (see:  www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2011/20110301-11-R-0141.pdf). The report found that documentation of grant activities was not always sufficient to demonstrate that funded work met the specific requirements needed to achieve the desired emissions reductions.  As a result, EPA could overestimate emissions reductions for grant activities.  Additionally, EPA funds were used to replace vehicles that would have been replaced anyway due to normal attrition.

OAR said it has strengthened the DERA program over the past five years and addressed many of the issues identified in the prior audits.  OAR acknowledged the issues with Recovery Act requirements but noted these were unique requirements and had not been required for non-Recovery Act DERA projects.

In addition, OAR has made changes to DERA program oversight and implementation to reduce the risk of issues in the future, including:

  • Updating DERA’s request for proposal.
  • Revising reporting templates and methodologies for emissions reporting.
  • Revising assistance agreement terms and conditions to clarify “early replacement.”
  • Initiating yearly project officer and grantee training.
  • Creating a technical guidance document emphasizing important points related to DERA-specific grants management and emission reduction technologies.
  • Continuing to conduct baseline and advanced monitoring on the DERA program.

For a copy of the report, go to:  www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2014/20140915-14-R-0355.pdf.

EPA, DOJ Settle with Electric Utility, Includes Installation of SCR Systems, Funds for Retrofit Projects – On September 16, 2014, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that, in a settlement with the U.S., Consumers Energy has agreed to install pollution control technology, continue operating existing pollution controls, and comply with emission rates to reduce air pollution from the company’s five coal-fired power plants located in West Olive, Essexville, Muskegon, and Luna Pier, MI.  Consumers Energy is Michigan’s second largest electric and natural gas utility, providing electric service to more than six million people in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.  The settlement will resolve claims that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by modifying their facilities in a way that caused the release of excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions.  The settlement requires the company to pay a civil penalty of $2.75 million and spend at least $7.7 million on supplemental environmental projects (SEPs).

Regarding the injunctive relief, the settlement requires the company to install pollution control technology (including SCR systems and flue-gas desulfurization systems) and implement other measures to reduce NOx, SO2, and PM emissions from its five coal-fired power plants, comprising 12 operating units.  The company must also comply with declining system-wide limits for NOx and SO2 and meet stringent emission rates.  In addition, the company must retire or refuel two units to natural gas and retire an additional five units.

EPA says compliance with the settlement will reduce NOx and SO2 emissions by approximately 46,500 tons per year from 2012 levels.  The company estimates that it will spend over $1 billion to implement the required measures.

Regarding the SEPs, the settlement requires Consumers Energy to spend at least $7.7 million on environmental mitigation projects and to complete the projects within five years.  Under the settlement, Consumers Energy will provide the National Park Service with $500,000 for ecological restoration or invasive species remediation in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Park.  In addition, Consumers Energy must perform the following projects:  1) vehicle replacement, retrofit and fueling infrastructure (up to $3 million); 2) renewable energy development or installation (up to $4 million); 3) wood burning appliances (no less than $1 million and up to $ 2 million); 4) energy efficiency (up to $500,000); and 5) land acquisition, donation, and restoration (up to $2 million).

Under the vehicle replacement, retrofit, and fueling infrastructure project, vehicle replacement project(s) would involve replacing existing gasoline and/or diesel-powered vehicles (passenger cars, light trucks, and heavy-duty service vehicles) with newly manufactured alternative fuel vehicles and/or compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.  Vehicle retrofit project(s) would involve the retrofitting of existing diesel engines with emission control equipment designed to reduce emissions of NOx, PM, and/or ozone precursors.  Fuel infrastructure project(s) would be designed to enhance the electric-vehicle charging infrastructure or CNG fueling infrastructure in Michigan by funding creation of one or more charging stations for electric vehicles or natural gas fueling stations.

For more information, go to:  www2.epa.gov/enforcement/consumers-energy-clean-air-act-settlement.

September 5, 2014

NC Clean Energy Technology Center Announces Funding for Emission Reduction Projects, Including Retrofits – On September 2, 2014, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) at NC State University announced a request for proposals for over $1,300,000 in FY 2013-2015 federal funding for transportation technology-related emission reduction projects through the Clean Fuel Advance Technology (CFAT) Project.  The CFAT Project is a three-year, $6.2 million initiative of the NCCETC funded with federal support (CMAQ funds) from the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The CFAT project operates in 24 counties in North Carolina that are in ozone nonattainment.  Previous proposal requests (in 2013 and 2014) distributed over $3 million to 30 public and private entities for a variety of projects, including natural gas-powered trucks and refueling infrastructure, propane refueling equipment and vehicle conversions, electric vehicle charging stations, on-board telematics equipment, and biodiesel refueling equipment.  Project officials anticipate an equally wide range of applications through this request, including alternative fuel and hybrid electric vehicles, vehicle conversions and up-fits for operation on cleaner-burning propane or natural gas, alternative fuel refueling and electric recharging infrastructure, on-board idle reduction and telematics technology for fuel savings and emission reduction, and retrofit devices for school buses and other heavy-duty diesel vehicles.

Funding assistance is allocated in the form of a reimbursement, which can cover up to 80% of the project cost.  In order to be eligible, a project must reduce transportation-related emissions within eligible NC counties, with the exception of electric recharging infrastructure which can be located anywhere within the state.

Project proposals must be submitted to NCCETC by November 3, 2014.

For more information on this funding opportunity, go to:  nccleantech.ncsu.edu/funding-available-for-projects-reducing-transportation-related-emissions-in-nc-2/.

TCEQ Announces New Round of Funding for Projects to Reduce NOx Emissions from Vehicles and Equipment – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program is now accepting grant applications under the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) Program.  Projects must result in a reduction of NOx emissions of at least 25%.  The request for grant applications is only open to applicants operating in the Austin, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston-Brazoria, San Antonio, Tyler-Longview, and Victoria areas.

Grant funds are available to replace, repower, or retrofit older heavy-duty vehicles (including school buses), nonroad equipment, locomotives, marine vessels, and stationary equipment.  Other types of projects eligible for funding include:  refueling infrastructure, on-side electrification and idle-reduction infrastructure, and rail relocation and improvement.

Applications must be submitted by December 2, 2014.

For more information, go to:  www.tceq.texas.gov/airquality/terp/erig.html.

August 29, 2014

Environmental Initiative in Minnesota Celebrates Accomplishments of Project Green Fleet – Environmental Initiative recently celebrated the cleaning up of 4,600 in-use diesel vehicles, including 3,200 school buses, in Minnesota since 2005 under its Project Green Fleet.  Project Green Fleet is a voluntary program that provides emission control equipment for school buses and other diesel vehicles at low or no cost to fleets.  Clean diesel strategies have included retrofits (DPFs, DOCs, and closed crankcase filters), engine repowers, vehicle replacements, and idling-reduction devices.  Funds have been provided by federal (including DERA funds), state, and private sources.  Environmental Initiative says the clean diesel projects have reduced PM emissions by 27 tons per year in the state, the equivalent of removing 500,000 cars from the road annually, and have decreased HC emissions by 150 tons per year and CO emissions by 250 tons per year.

Going forward, Environmental Initiative’s next goal is to reduce diesel emissions from at least 100 pieces of construction equipment in the state, primarily through repowering.  Project Green Fleet hopes to pay for about half the cost of the repowers; the rest would be paid for by the construction companies.  Environmental Initiative says repowering the engines could extend the life of the vehicles and lower the amount of fuel needed to power them, resulting in substantial savings for construction companies.  Environmental Initiative says it will need to raise an estimated $8 million over the next five years to complete the project.

For more information on Project Green Fleet, go to:  www.environmental-initiative.org/projects/project-green-fleet.

August 22, 2014

Utah Clean Air Partnership Announces New Funding for Clean Air Projects, Including Retrofits – On July 31, 2014, the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) announced the availability of funds under the 2014 UCAIR Grants Program.  The goal of the program is to provide incentives to companies and organizations to reduce emissions of criteria pollutants that contribute to Utah’s poor air quality.  Private sector companies, government entities, educational institutions, and individuals are eligible to apply.  This is the second year of the UCAIR Grants Program.  Since 2013, UCAIR has awarded more than $350,000 in grants to 13 organizations for funding projects to improve air quality.

The types of projects UCAIR plans to fund during this funding cycle are listed below:

  • Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants Program – Activities eligible for incentive funding will reduce emissions from on-road heavy-duty vehicles, nonroad equipment, or stationary engines when compared with a baseline vehicle or piece of equipment, including but not limited to:
    • Replacing an in-use engine with another cleaner engine.
    • Retrofitting an in-use engine, vehicle, or piece of equipment with an emission control system.
    • Purchasing new vehicles or equipment certified to lower emissions, including but not limited to electric, hybrid, or natural gas vehicles.
    • The replacement of an older vehicle or piece of equipment that still has remaining useful life with a newer state of the art cleaner vehicle or piece of equipment.  On-road heavy-duty vehicle fleet modernization, off-road equipment replacement, and lawn and garden equipment replacement are eligible project categories.
    • Purchasing and installing on-site infrastructure, including auxiliary power units, designed to dispense electricity to motor vehicles, on-road heavy-duty vehicles, nonroad equipment, and stationary engines to replace the power normally supplied by the engine while the vehicle or equipment is parked (idle reduction) or to recharge electric vehicles or equipment being used in lieu of vehicles or equipment powered by an internal combustion engine.
  • Uintah Basin Ozone Reduction Grants Program – Activities eligible for funding will reduce precursor emissions for ozone from the operation of oil and gas equipment in the Uintah Basin.  Equipment and control technology eligible for funding should result in emission reductions from large sources of VOCs and NOx.
  • Emerging Technology Development Grants Program – Activities eligible for funding will stimulate the development of cutting-edge technology to control and characterize emissions.  Priority will be given to projects that have the potential to reduce emissions from a significant source category.

The grant application deadline is October 1, 2014.

For more information, including a copy of the application form, go to:  www.ucair.org/grants-loans/.

August 15, 2014

TCEQ Announces New Round of Funding for School Bus Retrofits – The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced this week that grant applications are now being accepted statewide to retrofit eligible diesel-powered school buses with emission control devices.  A total of $3 million is available.  Any Texas school district, charter school, or transportation system provided by a county-wide school district may apply for and receive a grant under this program.  All sizes of diesel-powered school buses are eligible.  Eligible retrofit devices include verified DPFs, DOCs, and/or crankcase filtration systems.  The bus must operate on a regular, daily route to and from a school and have at least five years of useful life remaining.  Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-serve basis through November 21, 2014.  While there is not a limit on the amount of funding that can be applied for, the amount of the award will be at the discretion of the TCEQ.  For more information, including a link to the grant application, go to:  www.tceq.state.tx.us/p2/clean-vehicles/school-buses.html.

August 8, 2014

Senate Draft Bill Provides EPA with Higher Funding Level for FY 2015, Only $6.25 Million Allocated to DERA – Late last week, Senate appropriators released a draft fiscal year 2015 funding bill that roughly retains EPA’s existing $8.2 billion funding level, rejects the Obama administration’s proposed cuts to water infrastructure funding, and does not include provisions in a House FY15 appropriations bill that would block major EPA climate, air, and other regulations.  The Senate’s bipartisan funding bill and non-binding report language moves Congress closer to expected conference talks to resolve the differences between the House and Senate funding bills for EPA.

The Senate bill would fund EPA at $8.18 billion, slightly less than its FY14 enacted level but still roughly $680 million more than the House is proposing through its pending appropriations bill.  The bulk of the House cuts target EPA’s clean water and drinking state revolving funds (SRFs), which support state and local water infrastructure projects.  The House bill would cut the clean water SRF 30% from $1.45 billion to $1.02 billion, and reduce the drinking water SRF 16% from $906 million to $757 million.  The administration had included the same water infrastructure cuts in its budget proposal, directing some of the savings toward agency priorities, while the House used the cuts to reduce EPA’s overall budget.

The report commends some aspects of President Obama’s FY15 budget request for EPA but says that Congress should not reduce funding for the vital SRFs to pay for other policy priorities.  Overall, the Senate’s bill would boost agency funding, compared with the administration’s request, by roughly $292 million, though all of that increase comes from restoring the SRF funding, and the Senate proposes to slightly trim nearly every account in EPA’s budget compared to the president’s request, though not at the levels in the House bill.

The Senate bill rejects a House proposal to boost the agency’s Superfund account from the existing $1.09 billion level to $1.16 billion, opting instead to fund the program at $1.087 billion.  The Senate would also leave flat funding levels of $2.639 billion for the Environmental Programs and Management account, which funds core regulatory programs.  The House bill would cut the program by 4% to $2.51 billion.  The agency’s Science and Technology Account also would be funded in FY15 at the existing level of $753 million under the Senate bill, while the House would cut the account to $716 million.  For State and Tribal Assistance Grants (an account that includes the SRFs, as well as other accounts that help states pay to implement agency programs), the Senate proposes $3.524 billion, compared with an administration request of slightly more than $3 billion and the House level of $2.946 billion.  The Senate proposal includes only $6.25 million for DERA diesel emission reduction projects compared to the generous $30 million for DERA projects included in the House appropriations bill.

The Senate, which has generally opposed efforts to use funding measures as a vehicle for blocking Obama administration policies, omits virtually all of the policy riders the House included in its bill, including prohibitions on using funds to implement EPA’s proposed landmark greenhouse gas standards for power plants, its Clean Water Act jurisdiction rule, a prohibition on regulating coal ash as “hazardous” waste, and other controversial policies.  The Senate bill does continue the existing “Buy America” mandate that requires any SRF-funded project to use a broad range of domestic iron and steel goods unless the recipient can secure a waiver from EPA.  The House bill includes similar language, though an amendment added in committee expands some exceptions to the provision.

For a copy of the draft bill, go to:  www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/fy15-interior-subcommittee-bill-draft-report.

EPA Plans to Issue $5 Million DERA RFP This Fall for Clean Diesel Project at Ports – On August 7, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced plans to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) this fall for projects to reduce diesel emissions at marine and inland water ports in areas of poor air quality.  The total estimated FY 2014 DERA funding expected to be made available for this competition is approximately $5 million.  This RFP follows a $4 million RFP that EPA issued last December for clean diesel projects at ports.

Port authorities and state and local government agencies with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality will be eligible to apply.  Community groups, terminal operators, shipping carriers, and other related entities are encouraged to participate through partnerships with eligible applicants.  Similar to last year’s funding opportunity, EPA plans to solicit proposals for projects that request up to $2 million that reduce emissions from drayage trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and cargo-handling equipment used in port operations.  EPA anticipates making awards under this RFP in early 2015.

EPA is making this announcement now to encourage interested applicants and project partners to start considering and planning proposals for the RFP.  Updated information about this funding opportunity will be available soon at:  www.epa.gov/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.

FHWA Proposed Rule Could Boost CMAQ Funding for PM2.5 Reduction Projects – In the August 4, 2014 Federal Register (79 FR 45146), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking public feedback on its proposed handling of a congressionally required change aimed at steering more money into projects to cut fine particulate air emissions.  The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program is currently supposed to give funding priority to areas designated as being in nonattainment for maintenance of air quality standards for PM2.5 according to MAP-21, the highway and transit funding law enacted two years ago.  For states, that means that 25% of their respective CMAQ allotments attributed to PM2.5 nonattainment must be used for projects to reduce particulate emissions in those areas based on their “weighted population.”  Those projects, for example, could include retrofits of diesel-powered highway construction equipment.  However, MAP-21 did not spell out the exact “weighting factor” to be used in determining the amount of the set-aside.  The higher the weighting factor, the more money has to be dedicated to PM2.5 reduction projects.

As an interim step, the highway administration is using a weighting factor of 1.2 for PM2.5 areas.  The proposed regulations would increase that factor to 5.0, a step the agency justifies both on the severity of the health effects of fine particulate emissions and Congress’ interest in reducing them.  The proposed changes would not affect states’ overall share of CMAQ money and would result in “only modest differences” in the amount set aside for PM2.5 reduction, the agency said in the notice.  The CMAQ program has a budget of about $2.2 billion this year.

The deadline for public comment on the proposed rule is October 3, 2014.

For a copy of the Federal Register notice, go to:  www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/08/04/2014-17786/congestion-mitigation-and-air-quality-improvement-cmaq-program.

TCEQ Approves $964,801 in Environmental Fines, Includes Funds for Clean School Bus Project – On August 6, 2014, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced that it has approved penalties totaling $781,726 against 42 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.  Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories:  11 air quality, one dry cleaner, two industrial waste discharge, two multimedia, two municipal solid waste, one municipal waste discharge, six petroleum storage tank, 16 public water system, and one water quality.  In addition, on July 14 and 28, and August 1, TCEQ approved 85 agreed orders, each $7,500 or less, totaling $183,075.

Included in the total are penalties of $345,938 against BASF Total Petrochemicals, LLC, in Jefferson County, for air violations noted in an investigation conducted on July 29-August 1, 2013.  Of that amount, $86,484 will be used by the Texas Association of Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) Areas, Inc., for its Clean Buses Project.  Under the project, RC&D provides funds for the replacement or retrofit of school buses (see:  www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/legal/sep/RC&D%20BUS%20WEB%20DESC.pdf).  In addition, $86,485 will be used by the Southeast Texas Regional Planning Commission for its West Port Arthur Home Energy Efficiency Program – Lighthouse Program.

For more information on the TCEQ announcement, go to:  www.tceq.state.tx.us/news/releases/8-14Agenda8-6.

July 25, 2014

EPA Settles with Minnesota Coal-Fired Utility, Includes Funds for Possible Clean Diesel Projects – On July 16, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that, in a settlement with the agency and the Department of Justice, Minnesota Power has agreed to install pollution control technology and meet stringent emission rates to reduce air pollution from the company’s three coal-fired power plants located in Cohasset, Hoyt Lakes, and Schroeder, MN.  The settlement will resolve claims that the company violated the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) by unlawfully constructing major modifications at its plants without obtaining required permits and installing and operating the best available air pollution control technology.  The settlement also requires that the company pay a civil penalty of $1.4 million to resolve CAA violations.  The state of Minnesota is co-plaintiff to the settlement and will receive $200,000 of the penalty.
The settlement requires that the company install pollution control technology (i.e., flue gas desulfurization technology and either dry sorbent injection or furnace sorbet injection) and implement other measures to reduce SO2, NOx, and PM emissions from its three coal-fired power plants, which include nine operating units, as well as a biomass-and-coal-fired cogeneration plant which provides power and steam to an adjacent paper mill.  Among other requirements, the company must install control technologies and meet emission rates that will be among some of the lowest in the country for SO2 at its largest unit and for both SO2 and NOx at the second largest unit.  In addition, the company must retire, refuel, repower, or reroute emissions at five other units, and must meet emission rates and install additional control technologies at remaining units.  The company also must comply with declining system-wide annual tonnage limits for both SO2 and NOx.

EPA expects that the actions required by the settlement will reduce harmful emissions by over 13,350 tons per year, which includes approximately 8,500 tons per year of SO2.  The company estimates that it will spend over $500 million to implement the required measures.

The settlement also requires that the company spend $4.2 million on projects that will benefit the environment and local communities, including $2 million to build a large-scale solar installation system to benefit a local tribe known as the Fond du Lac Band.  In addition, the company will provide between $500,000 and $1 million to replace, retrofit, or upgrade wood burning appliances to reduce pollution, and $200,000 to the National Park Service to restore wetlands at Voyageurs National Park.  For the remaining money, the company can select from the following four project types:  land donation and restoration, electric vehicle charging stations, clean diesel projects, or installation of renewable energy.  The clean diesel projects specifically would provide up to $500,000 to a third party to complete projects to significantly reduce diesel emissions from diesel engines and vehicles that serve public needs in Northern Minnesota.  The diesel engines and vehicles would be based and/or primarily operated in Cook, St. Louis, or Itasca counties or otherwise in the Minnesota Power service territory.

This settlement is part of EPA’s national enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes coal-fired power plants, under the CAA’s NSR requirements.

For more information, go to:  www2.epa.gov/enforcement/minnesota-power-settlement.

July 11, 2014

House EPA Budget Bill Slashes FY 2015 Funding, Boosts DERA Funding – House Republicans’ fiscal year 2015 appropriations bill for the U.S. EPA would cut its budget by $717 million, or 9%, down to $7.5 billion compared to its existing $8.2 billion funding level, and would also bar EPA from implementing key policies, including its utility greenhouse gas (GHG) rules and Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction rule.  The draft spending bill, unveiled July 8, 2014, ahead of a House Appropriations Committee interior panel markup of the legislation on July 9, if enacted, would reduce the agency’s funding to the lowest level since FY 2008 when it received $7.4 billion.  In addition, staffing levels under the pending legislation would be held to 15,000, which would be the lowest level of agency staff since 1989, according to a July 8 press statement from the subcommittee.

The bill includes policy provisions to block EPA from using any funds to implement several examples of what the GOP sees as unnecessary regulation, including the proposed existing source performance standards and new source performance standards for fossil fuel-fired power plants; the CWA jurisdiction rule; a prohibition on regulating coal combustion residuals as “hazardous” waste; and various other controversial policies.  But even if the measure clears the House as expected, it is unlikely to gain traction in the Democratic-led Senate, which has opposed efforts to use funding measures as a vehicle for blocking Obama administration policies.

Another provision in the House appropriations bill would require the Obama administration to craft a comprehensive report on its climate change policy, “describing in detail all Federal agency funding, domestic and international, for climate change programs, projects, and activities in fiscal years 2014 and 2015, including an accounting of funding by agency with each agency identifying climate change programs, projects, and activities and associated costs by line item.”  The report would be due 120 days after the president submits his FY 2016 budget request (officially due the first Monday of February).

Under the House FY 2015 funding bill, categorical grants to states and tribes that help pay for implementation of federal environmental regulations would hold steady at $1.05 billion for the year.  The agency’s Environmental Programs and Management account, which funds core regulatory programs, would decrease from $2.62 billion to $2.51 billion, a 4% cut, while the Science and Technology Account would receive $716 million, down $43 million from FY 2014 levels.  By contrast, the Superfund office would receive a funding increase, from $1.09 billion to $1.16 billion, a boost of 6% over its currently enacted levels.  EPA’s DERA funding also gets a significant bump in the House bill, from $20 million included in the enacted FY 2014 budget to $30 million for FY 2015.  The House bill also includes another $10 million for projects in targeted airsheds (typically used for emission reduction projects in severe nonattainment regions like California’s South Coast and San Joaquin Valley).

For more information, including a link to the full draft text of the legislation, go to:  appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=386991.

July 3, 2014

Pennsylvania DEP Extends Application Deadline for 2014 State Clean Diesel Grant Program – On June 27, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it is extending the grant application acceptance period for the 2014 Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program until July 11, 2014.  The original deadline was June 10, 2014.  The grant program is funded through the annual DERA allocation under the U.S. EPA’s State Clean Diesel Program.  DEP received $202,037 (FY 2013 allocation) for this year’s program.  This funding is available for eligible diesel emission reduction projects that will improve air quality and protect public health and the environment in the state by reducing emissions from diesel-powered vehicles and engines.  For a copy of the application package, go to:  www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/airwaste/aq/default.htm.

June 27, 2014

Allegheny County Announces $750,000 in Funding for Clean Diesel Projects, Includes Retrofits – On June 19, 2014, the Allegheny County Health Department (in Pittsburgh, PA) announced that it has established a $750,000 fund to reduce air pollution from existing diesel-powered vehicles operating in and around the Neville Island area (about 10 miles northwest of Pittsburgh).  This fund will provide 100% of the cost for diesel particulate filters and diesel oxidation catalysts, and up to 75% of the cost for engine repowers and/or rebuilds.  To be eligible for this fund, companies and their diesel fleets must meet the following criteria:  the diesel fleet is headquartered on Neville Island or operates within adjacent communities (Avalon, Bellevue, Coraopolis, etc.); the diesel fleet will continue to operate on Neville Island or within adjacent communities for the next five years; and retrofits, repowers, and rebuilds will provide a measurable reduction in diesel particulate pollution.  Grants are available to upgrade both on-road and off-road diesel vehicles/equipment.  Submitting an application does not guarantee funding; final decision on funding is up to the Allegheny County Health Department.  For more information, go to:  www.achd.net/air/neville.

June 13, 2014

EPA Announces FY 2014 RFP for DERA Tribal Grant Program – On June 9, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced its FY 2014 Request for Proposals (RFP) for the DERA Tribal Grant Program.  This RFP seeks proposals for Tribal projects that achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions from existing diesel engines, particularly from fleets operating in areas designated by EPA as poor air quality areas.  The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is $1 million.  This is the first time EPA has offered a separate Tribal RFP for DERA funds; this is in response from feedback from Tribal communities.

Proposals from eligible Tribal agencies (or intertribal consortia) with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality requesting EPA funding between $30,000 and $800,000 will be considered.  It is anticipated that approximately one to five assistance agreements will be made from this announcement.  The scope of work for this FY 2014 DERA Tribal RFP is the same as the scope of work for EPA’s FY 2014 RFP for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program announced last month.  Proposals must be received by August 12, 2014.

EPA will host informational webinars about the DERA Tribal RFP on June 12, 17, and 19 at 3:00 pm EDT.  The link to join the webinars and call-in information is provided on EPA’s DERA Tribal Grant Program website.

For more information on the FY 2014 DERA Tribal RFP, go to:  epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgtribal.htm.

May 30, 2014

EPA Awards FY 2013 DERA Funds to Transportation Organization in New York for Transit Bus Retrofits – On May 27, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that it has awarded $246,931 to Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, a regional transportation organization, to install DPFs on up to 19 transit buses.  The project is expected to reduce emissions of PM in Erie and Niagara counties by 8.08 tons over the life of the buses.  On an average day, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority transportation system, which includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, carries 80,861 bus passengers.  For more information, go to:  yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/e80994a6bcb64f9385257ce500577454!OpenDocument.

EPA Awards FY 2013 DERA Funds to Two Organizations in NYC Area for Ship Repowers – On May 27, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that it has awarded $1.1 million in DERA funds to help two organizations in the New York City metropolitan area replace old diesel engines with newer, less-polluting models.  The grants were awarded under EPA’s FY 2013 National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program.
 The grant recipients are:

  • The Connecticut Maritime Foundation will use $600,000 to replace two old engines on the Patrick J. Hunt, an 80-foot marine tug boat, which operates out of New York harbor, with new and cleaner EPA-certified engines.  The new engines are estimated to emit 40% less NOx and 62% less PM than the current engine.  The project is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by 17.9 tons per year and PM by 1 ton per year in addition to conserving 10,825 gallons of fuel annually.
  • The New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition will use $587,918 to replace the old engines in two tug boats and one supply boat that operate out of New York harbor with new and cleaner EPA-certified engines.  The new engines are estimated to emit 69% less NOx and 80% less PM than the current engines.  The project is expected to reduce emissions of NOx by 816.2 tons and PM by 40.6 tons over the life of the engines in addition to conserving between 1.8 and 2.25 million gallons of fuel over a lifetime of about 12 years.

For more information, go to:  yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/fde9f1e23484107085257ce5005645a7!OpenDocument.

May 9, 2014

Arkansas Awards $160,000 in Grants for Clean Diesel Projects – In early April, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) announced that it has awarded five grants totaling nearly $160,000 under the 2013 funding round for ADEQ’s Reduce Emissions from Diesels Program.  The program, also known as the “Go RED!” Program, provides grants to eligible entities for clean diesel projects.

The five grant recipients are:

  • Central Arkansas Transit:  $50,000 for the replacement of up to eight buses with either clean diesel or natural gas engines.
  • Clinton School District:  $40,000 for the replacement of two school buses.
  • City of Little Rock:  $24,014.71 for the replacement of one wrecker truck with a natural gas-powered vehicle.
  • Ozark School District:  $23,875 for the replacement of one school bus.
  • County Line School District:  $20,842.50 for the replacement of one school bus.

Public and private entities and non-profit organizations in Arkansas are eligible to receive funding under the “Go RED!” Program.  Projects that are selected for awards must reduce diesel emissions in Arkansas by employing measures such as exhaust controls, engine upgrades, idle reduction technologies, engine replacement, and/or vehicle/equipment replacement.  ADEQ plans to announce the open application period for 2014 “Go RED!” grants later this year.

For more information, go to:  www.adeq.state.ar.us/ftproot/Pub/pa/News_Releases/2014-04-02__ADEQ_Funds_Five_Diesel_Emission_Reduction_Projects__Air.pdf.

May 2, 2014

EPA Announces FY 2014 RFP for National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program – On May 1, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced its FY 2014 Request for Proposals (RFP) for the National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program funded through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program.  The total estimated funding for this competitive opportunity is approximately $9 million.  This amount is part of the overall $20 million allocated to the DERA program for FY 2014.  EPA has also allocated $5.67 million to the State Clean Diesel Grant Program.  In addition, EPA is expected to announce a Rebate Program later this year.

Highlights from the RFP include:

  • Eligible diesel emission reduction strategies include verified exhaust control technologies (e.g., DPFs, DOCs, SCR systems, closed crankcase filters), certified engine repower, verified/certified engine upgrades, certified vehicle/equipment replacement, verified/certified cleaner fuel use, verified idle reduction technologies, verified locomotive idle reduction technologies, verified shore connection systems and truck stop electrification technologies, verified aerodynamic technologies and low-rolling resistance tires, and clean alternative fuel conversions.
  • Eligible diesel vehicles, engines, and equipment may include buses, medium-duty or heavy-duty trucks, marine engines, locomotives and nonroad engines, equipment or vehicles used in construction, handling of cargo (including at a port or airport), agriculture, mining, or energy production (including stationary generators and pumps).
  • Eligible entities include regional, state, local, or tribal agencies or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, and nonprofit organizations or institutions that:  a) represent or provide pollution reduction or educational services to persons or organizations that own or operate diesel fleets or b) have as their principal purpose the promotion of transportation or air quality.
  • EPA will fund up to 100% of the cost (labor and equipment) of EPA- and/or ARB-verified retrofit technologies.
  • The evaluation criteria includes a specific programmatic priority for “Project Location.”  Priority will be given to projects located in counties and areas selected by EPA as priority areas for the DERA program based on data from a number of sources (e.g., counties and areas in nonattainment or maintenance of NAAQS for a criteria pollutant).  For more information on the priority locations, including a link to the complete list of priority counties and areas, see Appendix D of the RFP.  In addition, priority will be given to projects located in areas that receive a disproportionate quantity of air pollution from diesel fleets (e.g., truck stops, ports, rail yards, terminals, construction sites, school bus depots).
  • Applications will also be evaluated based on Regional Significance factors.  These factors highlight specific environmental issues that are focal points of each of the EPA regional offices.  The complete list of Regional Significance factors for the 10 EPA regions is available in Section I.B.4. of the RFP.
  • The evaluation criteria for the RFP includes a specific programmatic priority for “Diesel Reduction Effectiveness.”  Under this criterion, proposals will be evaluated on the project’s effectiveness at reducing diesel emissions, based on the age and annual operating hours of the vehicle, and the effectiveness and cost of the control strategy.  The scoring methodology, in general, favors the use of Level 3 retrofit devices (i.e., the score for using a DPF or an SCR system is equal to or higher than a repower or a replacement for all vehicle/equipment model years).  The complete list of scoring tables for the different types of vehicles and equipment by emission control strategy is available in Appendix E of the RFP.
  • The RFP includes a number of funding restrictions.  For example, on-highway vehicles that are MY 1990 or older are not eligible.  Nonroad equipment that operate less than 500 hours/year or with less than seven years remaining of useful life are not eligible.  Also, locomotives and marine engines that operate less than 1000 hours/year are not eligible.  The complete list of funding restrictions can be found in Section III.D. of the RFP.

The closing date for receipt of proposals is June 17, 2014.  EPA anticipates awarding one to two non-tribal assistance agreements for each of the 10 EPA regions.  Award announcements are expected in the fall/winter of this year.  The estimated start date for projects resulting from this solicitation is January 1, 2015, with an expected project completion date no later than December 31, 2016.

EPA will host two teleconference information sessions for this RFP on Tuesday, May 13 (2:00-4:00 pm EDT) and Thursday, May 15 (2:00-4:00 pm EDT).  For the call-in details for these information sessions, see the website link below.

For more information on the FY 2014 RFP, go to:  www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgnational.htm.
Note:  This year, EPA is also issuing a stand-alone DERA Tribal Request for Proposals for a total of up to $1 million.  The FY 2014 DERA Tribal Competition RFP is tentatively scheduled to open around May 12, 2014.  For more information, go to:  www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgtribal.htm.

Pennsylvania DEP Accepting Applications for 2014 State Clean Diesel Grant Program – On April 28, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Pennsylvania State Clean Diesel Grant Program.  The grant program is funded through the annual DERA allocation under the U.S. EPA’s State Clean Diesel Program.  DEP received $174,428 (FY 2013 allocation) for this year’s program.  This funding is available for eligible diesel emission reduction projects that will improve air quality and protect public health and the environment in the state by reducing emissions from diesel-powered vehicles and engines.  DEP is seeking applications for projects that will replace, repower, or retrofit diesel-powered highway and/or nonroad vehicles.  Funding is available for public and private entities that operate diesel fleets throughout the state.  These entities may include school districts, municipal authorities, political subdivisions, other state agencies, non-profit entities, corporations, limited liability companies, or partnerships incorporated or registered in the state.  Projects must use technologies certified or verified by EPA or ARB.  The technology may be a single technology or a combination of available technologies.  The majority of the fleet’s annual operation time must occur within the state.  The deadline for submitting an application is June 10, 2014.  For a copy of the application package, go to:  www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/airwaste/aq/default.htm.

April 18, 2014

EPA Announces Recipients of FY 2013 DERA Grants for Clean Diesel Projects at Ports – On April 8, 2014, at the U.S. EPA’s Port Stakeholders Summit in Baltimore, MD, EPA announced the grant recipients of the $4.2 million in FY 2013 DERA funds under the agency’s funding opportunity for projects to improve air quality at ports.  The grants will help six ports improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions by providing funds to retrofit, replace, or repower diesel engines resulting in immediate emissions reductions in harmful pollution.

The six grant recipients are as follows:

  • Port of Seattle – Scrappage and Replacements for Air in Puget Sound 2 (ScRAPS 2) Drayage Truck Replacement Project, King County, WA, $1.2 million.  This project will provide incentives to replace 40 older heavy-duty drayage trucks with trucks powered by 2010 or newer certified engines.  The project will supplement the port’s existing truck replacement program.
  • Port of Hueneme – Phase II Shore Power Infrastructure Project, Ventura County, CA, $500,000.  This project will complete electrification of Wharf #1 and allow the port to supply shore-side power to ocean-going vessels at all three berths simultaneously, thereby reducing emissions from ship idling.
  • Port of Tacoma – Switcher Locomotive Repower, Pierce County, WA, $601,949.  This project will repower a Tier 0 switcher locomotive with a Tier 3+ engine equipped with an automatic start-stop system to reduce idling.
  • Maryland Port Administration – Port of Baltimore Drayage Truck Replacement Program, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties, MD, $750,000.  This project will provide incentives to replace 35 pre-1997 model year drayage trucks in service at the Port of Baltimore with trucks powered by 2010 or newer certified engines.
  • Virginia Port Authority – Hybrid Shuttle Carrier Demonstration Project, Hampton Roads, VA, $750,000.  This project will replace three Tier 1 shuttle carriers with Tier 4 hybrid diesel-electric shuttle carriers in operation at the Port of Virginia.
  • City of Los Angeles Harbor Department – Port of Los Angeles Cargo Handling Equipment Retrofit Project, San Pedro Bay/Los Angeles, CA, $469,000.  This project will retrofit 14 pieces of cargo-handling equipment with DPFs at the Port of Los Angeles.

For more information, go to:  www.epa.gov/otaq/ports/ports-dera-rfp.htm.

April 11, 2014

Cascade Sierra Solutions Ceases Operations – Cascade Sierra Solutions (CSS), a nonprofit group dedicated to helping truckers save fuel and reduce emissions, said it is shutting down because it can no longer financially sustain its operations.  CSS, which has administered more than $47 million in grants since 2006, said it was submitting to the appointment of a receiver in a state court lawsuit and expects to be liquidated and then dissolved.  The group provided financing for truckers to retrofit or replace their vehicles with cleaner technology.  They also jointly administered a project with Shorepower Technologies to provide plug-in power at truck stops.

Loren Scott, legal counsel for CSS, said the U.S. EPA effectively barred the group from seeking additional grants after a 2012 audit.  EPA found that the firm’s accounting for a grant awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 did not meet federal requirements, although Scott said the firm maintains that it adequately explained about its accounting process.

CSS said it is closing or has closed outreach centers across the country, but its Eugene, OR, headquarters will remain open with a reduced staff to service loan repayments and complete existing grant contracts.

For more information, go to:  www.landlinemag.com/Story.aspx?StoryID=26837#.U0WJx_ldVWE.

March 21, 2014

EPA Issues Revised Guidance on Use of Diesel Retrofit Programs for SIPs – The U.S. EPA has issued a revised guidance document on quantifying and using emission reductions from on-road and nonroad diesel vehicles, engines, and equipment that have been retrofitted with emission reduction technology.  This guidance document replaces a similar retrofit guidance document that was issued in 2006.  This revised guidance describes how to quantify and use reductions of NOx, VOCs, PM2.5, PM10, and CO in ozone, PM2.5, PM10, NO2, and CO nonattainment and maintenance areas.  States or regional planning organizations can use the emission reductions resulting from implementing a retrofit project in a SIP to help achieve reasonable further progress (RFP), attainment of the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) or maintenance of the NAAQS, and in transportation conformity and general conformity determinations.

This guidance document is updated to reflect the new quantification procedures that use EPA’s latest on-road emissions model, the MOtor Vehicle Emissions Simulator (MOVES) model.  For nonroad emissions, the nonroad portion of the National MOBILE Inventory Model (NMIM) is the preferred way to estimate benefits of retrofit programs.  State and local agencies developing SIPs and conformity analyses for California need to consult with EPA Region 9 for information on the current approved version of ARB’s EMFAC model for use in California and for information on how to quantify emission reductions from retrofit projects.

Retrofit projects provide a cost-effective opportunity for state and local governments to reduce pollution from on-road and nonroad diesel vehicle and equipment fleets, and, as a result, could assist areas in attaining the NAAQS.  The current transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), continues to provide federal funding for on-road retrofits under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ), and funding for diesel retrofit projects.  MAP-21 recognizes the importance of diesel retrofit projects and other mobile source emission reduction strategies and directs states and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to give priority for use of CMAQ funds for projects that reduce fine particulate matter emissions, including diesel retrofits in PM2.5 nonattainment and maintenance areas.  The law also notes that states and MPOs continue to have final CMAQ project selection authority.  To date, CMAQ funds have only been used for a limited number of retrofit projects.

This guidance also fulfills the directive from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that requires EPA to provide SIP guidance for retrofit projects under the diesel emission reduction provision (DERA) and takes the additional step of providing guidance for crediting retrofits in conformity determinations.  In addition to assisting MPOs and states in evaluating diesel retrofits for CMAQ project selection, EPA anticipates that this guidance will also be useful for implementing their DERA diesel emissions reduction incentive program.

This revised EPA retrofit guidance document is available at:  www.epa.gov/otaq/stateresources/transconf/policy/420b14007.pdf.

EPA IG Report Says ARB DERA Locomotive Repower Project Did Not Meet ARRA Requirements – On March 6, 2014, the U.S. EPA’s Office of Inspector General (IG) released a report finding that the California ARB did not fully comply with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) regarding a nearly $9 million DERA project in 2009 to repower eight locomotives in the South Coast air basin.

In July 2009, EPA awarded $8,888,888 in DERA funds under the Recovery Act to ARB for a project to repower eight existing switchyard locomotives with new Tier 3 nonroad engines.  ARB proposed operating the repowered locomotives within rail yards located in the South Coast air basin.  ARB had found that most of the pollution from railroads came from engines that worked exclusively in switch yards, and the grant was an attempt to create cleaner engines that would cut down on air pollution.

The IG’s office, however, found that no one actually tracked whether pollution had been cut down, and ARB had no hard data on whether the repowers were effective.  Without this information, “the EPA does not have reasonable assurance that the project will achieve projected emissions reductions or expected environmental results and human-health benefits,” the report said.  In its own response to the IG, EPA Region 9 said it disagreed that a direct assessment of the pollution reductions was needed, instead saying that the estimates are accurate.  In addition, ARB said collecting exact fuel-usage data for each locomotive would be “cost-prohibitive” for the railroad companies and that the estimates would be enough to calculate pollution emissions accurately.  “The project achieved its objective to cut air pollution and health risk,” ARB officials said.

The IG also could not determine whether the federal government got a return on its investment to create jobs.  ARB and the railroad company it worked with, BNSF, reported employment via the total number of hours people worked on the project, but they didn’t track how much of that was a direct result of the grant funds.  ARB officials said they have the data and will work with EPA Region 9 to calculate the exact number of people hired.

The IG said it was especially worried that the old, high-emitting engines pulled from the locomotives are still in use.  BNSF was supposed to scrap the old engines after they were replaced, but ARB allowed the company to use them outside of California.  The IG pointed out that that doesn’t reduce pollution, just shifts it to a new state.  “The potential use of the old engines by BNSF outside of California could offset emissions reductions gained by the newer engines and result in no net environmental benefit being derived from the project,” investigators said.  In response to the audit, ARB and BNSF signed a written agreement in November 2013 to scrap or remanufacture the older locomotive engines within 18 months of the agreement date.

On the plus side, investigators said ARB was able to refurbish 11 locomotives instead of the originally planned eight because workers were able to reduce costs.  BNSF has already had to repay $94,000 because it billed ARB for more money than it cost to make the overhauls.

For a copy of the report, go to:  www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2014/20140306-14-R-0130.pdf.

EPA Settles with Texas Chemical Plant over CAA Violations, Includes Diesel Retrofit Project – On March 20, 2014, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Flint Hills Resources (FHR) of Port Arthur has agreed to implement control technologies to reduce air pollution from industrial flares and leaking equipment at the company’s chemical plant in Port Arthur, TX.  The company is also required to pay a $350,000 penalty for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations.  The complaint alleges that the company improperly operated its steam-assisted flaring devices in a way that emitted excess amounts of VOCs, including benzene and other hazardous air pollutants.  It also alleges violations of EPA regulations designed to limit emissions from leaking equipment.

The settlement requires FHR to operate state-of-the-art equipment to recover and recycle waste gases and to ensure that gases sent to flares are burned with 98% efficiency.  The company has spent approximately $16 million to implement these required controls on industrial flares.  When the agreement is fully implemented, the company estimates it will spend $28 million to reduce “fugitive” pollutant emissions that may leak from valves, pumps, and other equipment.  The company must monitor leaks more frequently, implement more aggressive repair practices, adopt innovative new practices designed to prevent leaks, and replace valves with new low-emission valves or use packing material to reduce leaks.

FHR will also implement two supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) as part of the settlement.  FHR will:  1) spend $2 million to implement and complete the retrofitting, repowering, replacing, and/or retiring of diesel vehicles owned and operated by the City of Port Arthur; and 2) spend $350,000 to implement and complete a project to purchase and install environmentally beneficial technologies to reduce energy demand in low-income homes.

Once fully implemented, EPA estimates that the settlement, including the SEPs, will reduce emissions of VOCs, including benzene and other hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), by an estimated 1,880 tons per year, and will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by approximately 69,000 tons per year.

Flint Hills’ plant in Port Arthur manufactures chemicals that are used in a variety of products, including medical devices, automotive parts, and appliance components.  The Port Arthur facility has the capacity to produce nearly 1.4 billion pounds of ethylene and 700 million pounds of propylene annually.

For more information about the settlement, go to:  www2.epa.gov/enforcement/flint-hills-resources-port-arthur-clean-air-act-settlement.

March 14, 2014

President Obama’s FY 2015 Budget Proposal Includes Reduced Funding for EPA – President Obama’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposal for the U.S. EPA would trim the agency’s budget from $8.2 billion in FY 2014 down to $7.9 billion, but the cuts are targeted mostly at its water infrastructure funds, with many other programs slated to receive a slight increase, including helping states implement EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules.  If the President’s proposal is approved by Congress, it would mark five straight years of budget declines for EPA.  The increase for state implementation of GHG rules comes as part of an increase for agency efforts to implement the president’s Climate Action Plan that includes the agency’s proposed GHG rules for existing and future utilities, and another round of GHG limits on heavy-duty trucks.  In FY 2015, EPA’s Heavy-Duty Vehicle GHG Phase 2 standards will require upgrades to the National Vehicle Fuel Emissions Laboratory (NVFEL) in Ann Arbor, MI, which is responsible for ensuring vehicles meet national efficiency and emission standards.

Other programs slated to receive an increase are agency efforts to implement Obama’s executive order on improving chemical plants safety; the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is slated to receive an additional $275 million; and a $76 million boost in grants to states to implement EPA programs (so-called STAG account funds).  For many EPA programs, the March 4, 2014 proposal represents an increase over either the FY 2013 or FY 2014 enacted levels, but, as in prior budget plans, both the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds (SRFs) would receive major cuts.  The administration is proposing $1.8 billion overall for the funds combined, representing a $581 million cut compared to the FY 2014 enacted level – with the clean water SRF dropping from $1.4 billion to $1.02 billion and the drinking water SRF slated to be cut from $906 million to $757 million.

The FY 2015 President’s Budget eliminates a number of EPA programs totaling nearly $56 million, including Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants, Beaches Protection categorical grants, and State Indoor Radon Grants.  Congress included $20 million in EPA’s FY 2014 budget for DERA projects that reduce emissions from legacy diesel engines, despite an FY 2014 Administration proposal that included only $6 million for DERA.  DERA’s strong bipartisan support will be needed again in Congress to keep funding DERA grants for FY 2015.

More details on EPA’s proposed FY 2015 budget are available at:  www2.epa.gov/planandbudget/fy2015.

February 28, 2014

EPA Awards $496,000 to Utah DEQ for DPF Retrofits on Heavy-Duty Trucks – On February 20, 2014, the U.S. EPA announced that it has awarded the Utah Department of Environmental Quality a $496,000 grant to reduce diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks based in seven counties along the Wasatch Front, a metropolitan region in the north-central part of Utah (includes Salt Lake City and Provo).  The project will focus on retrofitting 19 long-haul trucks with DPFs and idle-reduction technologies.  Bingham Livestock, Intermountain Rigging and Heavy Haul, L & S Transport, and Sugar House Van Lines were selected to participate due to their activity in areas along the Wasatch Front.  The project will also replace two outdated vehicles operated by C.R. England Global Transportation and Pacific States Cast Iron Company with new ones that meet tighter emissions standards.  For more information, go to:  yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/960725a03922f07a85257c85006fd8cf!OpenDocument.

February 14, 2014

Memphis Uses CMAQ Funds to Retrofit Transit Buses with DPFs – Shelby County, TN, recently completed a project that retrofitted 60 older-model Memphis Area Transit Authority buses with DPFs and closed crankcase ventilation systems.  The $659,046 in funds for the project came from a federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) grant secured by the Shelby County Health Department.  It’s the first time the CMAQ program has funded work in Tennessee to install diesel retrofit technology, according to local officials.  The 60 buses were the oldest among MATA’s fleet of about 200 vehicles.  This initiative follows similar clean diesel upgrades made to 85 garbage trucks in 2008 and 250 school buses in 2011.  For more information, go to:  www.masstransitmag.com/news/11308183/memphis-transit-buses-burning-cleaner-after-diesel-retrofit-project.

January 24, 2014

EPA FY 2014 Budget Approved by Congress, Includes $20 Million for DERA – Both the House and Senate last week approved an omnibus federal spending bill that includes the U.S. EPA’s FY 2014 budget.  President Obama signed the funding legislation on January 18.  The bipartisan bill, H.R. 3547, boosts EPA’s budget by $300 million from its existing $7.9 billion to $8.2 billion overall.  EPA received $8.3 billion in a FY 2013 congressional resolution (CR), but sequestration cut that to the agency’s current $7.9 billion funding, meaning this omnibus federal spending bill restores the agency’s budget almost to the FY 2013 CR level.  The bill includes $20 million for Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) grants, which is approximately the same amount as the FY 2013 allocation ($19.952 million) but more than the President’s FY 2014 budget request of $6 million.

The bill increases most of EPA’s funding accounts by as much as 5% over current levels, including a $140 million boost (3.9% increase) for the State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) account from $3.39 billion in FY 2013 to $3.53 billion.  Categorical Grants for state programs, which fund a host of measures to help states implement federal environmental programs, also receives a slight boost, from $1.03 billion to $1.05 billion.  EPA’s Environmental Programs & Management account, which funds most EPA rulemaking and regulatory efforts, will be funded at $2.62 billion, up $110 million (4.3% increase) from FY 2013’s level of $2.51 billion.  The agency’s Science & Technology account, which funds much of the agency’s scientific research work, receives $759.2 million, up $16 million (2.1% increase) from its current level of $743 million.

H.R. 3547 does not include a policy rider aimed at EPA’s forthcoming rules for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new or existing power plants despite a Republican push for such language which reportedly delayed the bill.  The bill also forbids EPA from implementing regulations aimed at controlling GHG emissions from livestock or manure.  In addition, the bill requires EPA to begin work on a seventh edition of its handbook on regional haze air regulation, the “EPA Air Pollution Control Cost Manual.”

The bill text for the FY 2014 omnibus federal spending bill is available at:  thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c113:H.R.3547:

MassCleanDiesel Program Reduces Emissions from Refrigerated Trailers, Long-Haul Trucks – In early December, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced that, as a result of the first round of its $983,907 MassCleanDiesel:  Clean Markets Program, 25 trucking and food service companies were able to eliminate 2,400 tons of emissions from their diesel refrigerated trailers and long-haul trucks, collectively saving $707,623 in fuel costs in the process.  MassDEP offered the grants to trucking and refrigeration companies serving wholesale food markets, distribution centers, and warehouses.  MassDEP targeted these centers for pollution reductions because long-haul trucks and storage trailers run their diesel engines to refrigerate their products while waiting to unload at one of these types of facilities.
Companies were eligible to receive three types of technologies under the program to help reduce diesel emissions from their engines:  diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), auxiliary power units (APUs), and electric transportation refrigeration units (eTRUs).  In total, DOCs and APUs worth $267,661were installed on 23 long-haul trucks owned by 14 hauling companies and individuals, and eTRUs worth $716,246 were installed on 52 stationary trailers owned by 11 food refrigeration companies.  MassDEP funded 100% of the cost of the DOCs and APUs and 75% of the cost of the eTRUs.

The MassCleanDiesel:  Clean Markets Program is MassDEP’s eighth diesel emission reduction grant program.  MassDEP has funded the installation of emission reduction technologies in more than 2,100 diesel school buses owned by municipalities and private bus companies, 23 municipal construction engines, 205 waste collection and recycling vehicles, and 342 state-owned highway vehicles.  MassCleanDiesel is funded by the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) and an environmental enforcement settlement between American Electric Power and the U.S. EPA.

For more information, including a complete list of the 25 companies who participated in the Clean Markets Program, go to:  www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/news/releases/more-than-2400-tons-of-diesel-pollutants-eliminated-.html.

January 17, 2014

EPA Extends Application Deadline for Construction Equipment Rebate Program – The U.S. EPA has extended the deadline for receipt of applications for the 2013 Construction Equipment Funding Opportunity under the National Clean Diesel Rebate Program.  EPA is now accepting applications until Wednesday, January 29, 2014.  The original deadline was January 15, 2014.

Eligible applicants include regional, state, local, tribal agencies, or port authorities with jurisdiction over transportation or air quality, or private entities under a contract with one of the above public entities.  Applicants must operate their equipment in areas of poor air quality (a full list of eligible counties is available at:  www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/documents/2013-construction-county-list.pdf.)  Eligible applicants who meet the location requirement may apply to install DPFs on Tier 2 or Tier 3 engines, or they may apply to replace unregulated or Tier 1 engines with Tier 2 or Tier 3 engines.  Applicants may request rebates for 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.  Depending on the size and type of project, rebates may be as high as $69,000 for one engine.

Manufacturers with verified DPFs for off-road equipment are encouraged to work with an eligible partner to apply for a rebate to retrofit pieces of construction equipment.  Note that EPA will pay for 100% of the cost of the retrofit (up to $30,000).

For more information about EPA’s 2013 Construction Equipment Rebate Program, including a copy of the rebate application form, go to:  epa.gov/cleandiesel/dera-rebate-construction.htm.

EPA Finds DERA Retrofit Project in Lansing Did Not Comply with ARRA Funding Requirements – On January 9, 2014, the U.S. EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report finding that the Greater Lansing Area Clean Cities (GLACC) did not comply with the requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) regarding a DERA project to retrofit 364 public school buses and replace 10 public school buses with lower-emission buses.  The total amount of the cooperative agreement was $1,670,325.  The federal share was 64% ($1,073,528) and GLACC’s contribution was 36% ($596,799).  The period of performance was from July 29, 2009, through March 31, 2011.

The auditor, Ollie Green & Company, questioned $805,759 of the $1,073,528 claimed because they said these costs were claimed under contracts involving conflict of interest.  OG&C found that GLACC had conflicts of interest on the Board of Directors and with contracted staff.  The first conflict of interest involved the appointment of a sub-recipient’s family member to GLACC’s Board of Directors on June 14, 2010.  The sub-recipient was paid $772,461 under the cooperative agreement.  The second conflict of interest involved GLACC’s use of a contractor to provide professional services while also appointing one of the contractor’s owners as GLACC’s Executive Director.  The contractor was paid $33,298 under the cooperative agreement.

OG&C’s audit also found that the accounting system used by GLACC needs improvement.  For example, GLACC could not provide reports to capture total program costs, cash receipts, and cash disbursements related to cooperative agreement transactions without explanation and/or significant adjustments.

OG&C recommended that the EPA Regional Administrator for Region 5 recover the questioned costs of $805,759 due to conflict of interest, and verify that GLACC’s accounting system is adequate for providing accurate and complete disclosure of financial results of each federally sponsored program prior to any future award.

For a copy of the OIG report, go to:  go.usa.gov/ZfUQ.

January 3, 2014

West Coast Collaborative Announces Recipients of FY 2013 DERA Grants – On December 19, 2013, the U.S. EPA’s West Coast Collaborative (WCC) announced over $2.2 million in FY 2013 DERA grants to partners in the West Coast and Pacific Island Territories.  The 14 grants are administered through the WCC, an EPA Region 9 and Region 10 public-private partnership aimed at reducing diesel emissions.  The 14 grants leveraged an additional $6 million from public, private, and non-profit partners.  The WCC says the projects will clean up 93 medium- and heavy-duty diesel engines, and reduce over 262 tons of NOx, 16 tons of PM, and 8,317 tons of CO2 over the life of the projects.
The FY 2013 DERA grant projects in the WCC are summarized below:

  • ARB received $205,152 to install DPF retrofits on heavy-duty diesel school buses.
  • Pima Association of Governments received $150,000 to replace heavy-duty diesel school buses with CNG and propane (LPG) buses.
  • Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) received $391,614 to replace heavy-duty diesel refuse trucks with CNG trucks running on renewable natural gas generated from food waste and heavy-duty diesel agricultural tractors with equipment that meets or exceeds EPA’s Tier 4 emission standards for nonroad engines.
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) received $391,613 to replace older diesel school buses with fully electric and CNG-powered school buses in the South Coast air basin.
  • Port of Oakland received $415,932 to repower diesel rubber tire gantry cranes with Ecocrane™ Hybrid Electric Power.
  • Arizona Governor’s Office of Energy Policy received $81,993 to repower older construction equipment with at least Tier 3 engines. 
  • Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) received $75,442 to replace an older model year public fleet vehicle with a 2011 model year vehicle.
  • Guam EPA received $17,978 to retrofit school buses with exhaust emission control technologies.
  • Commonwealth Utilities Corporation - Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) received $26,677 to retrofit power generation units to enable fueling with ULSD.
  • American Samoa Power Authority received $17,978 to offset the cost of purchasing cleaner fuel for use in power generation and trucking fleets.
  • Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) received $200,000 to replace diesel short-haul trucks with LNG trucks.
  • Columbia River Corridor Association received $216,349 to replace drayage trucks.
  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) received $116,172 to replace yard dump trucks
  • Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) received $77,448 to retrofit school buses with emission controls devices.

In addition, the WCC expects to award grants next month to two Pacific Northwest Tribes that have been selected to receive FY 2013 DERA funding.

For fact sheets on each of the 14 WCC FY 2013 DERA grants, go to:  www.westcoastcollaborative.org/projects-list.htm.