Maui News

EPA Awards Nearly $500,000 to Help Reduce Diesel Emissions in Hawai‘i

October 28, 2019, 8:43 AM HST
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The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced the award of $474,474 in Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grants to the Hawaiʻi Department of Health. The funds will be combined with $316,494 in Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement funds and $2,511,239 in fleet cost-share to retrofit and replace old, polluting municipal diesel vehicles.

“By promoting clean diesel technologies, we can improve air quality and human health, advance American innovation and support green jobs,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Reducing exposure to diesel pollution is important for everyone, particularly children, one of our most sensitive populations.”

Throughout October, EPA is celebrating Children’s Health Month and highlighting many programs and resources that tribes, states, territories and local partners can use to protect our nation’s children. This fiscal year (Oct. 2018 to Sept. 30, 2019), EPA awarded more than $9 million in DERA funding for rebates to replace older diesel school buses with newer, cleaner vehicles. Clean diesel funding through DERA grants has supported nearly 25,000 cleaner buses across the country for America’s schoolchildren.

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health will use the $474,474 DERA grant to help with diesel vehicle replacements for several partner agencies:

  • Honolulu City and County Board of Water Supply will replace one heavy-duty truck
  • Hawaiʻi Department of Transportation will replace one road zipper
  • State of Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism Offices will replace two buses.

“The Hawaiʻi Department of Health is excited to continue our partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency on the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) program,” said Marianne Rossio, Hawaiʻi Department of Health Clean Air Branch chief. “The DERA grant enables us to subsidize the replacement of older diesel vehicles, which reduces harmful air emissions, improves air quality and protects the health of Hawaiʻi residents. This year’s grant will be supplemented by funds from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Settlement provided by the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

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EPA has implemented standards to make diesel engines more than 90 percent cleaner, but many older diesel engines remain in operation and predate these standards. Older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. These pollutants are linked to health problems, including aggravated asthma, lung damage, and other serious health problems.

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From 2008 to 2016, EPA has awarded $629 million nationally to retrofit or replace 67,300 engines and equipment from port, airport, transit and school bus, rail, long and short haul truck, drayage truck, marine vessel, agriculture, construction, and other fleets. More than 454 million gallons of fuel have been saved as a result of DERA projects. EPA estimates that total lifetime emission reductions achieved through DERA include 15,490 tons of particulate matter and 472,700 tons of nitrogen oxides. These reductions have created up to $19 billion of health benefits.

These efforts in the western United States are part of the West Coast Collaborative, which leverages public and private funds and partnerships to reduce emissions from the most polluting diesel sources. The vehicle and equipment upgrades will cut emissions of fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide.

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