In an effort to reduce emissions from older engines impacting air quality in tribal communities, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made available $1 million in grant funding for tribal applicants to carry out clean diesel projects.
Under this grant competition, part of the Diesel Emission Reduction (DERA) Program, EPA anticipates awarding up to five tribal assistance agreements between $30,000 and $800,000 each for projects aimed at reducing air pollutants from diesel exhaust such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM).
The EPA offered a tribes-only competition for clean diesel funding for the first time last year, awarding more than $925,000 to three North Puget Sound tribal communities in Washington State to help the Upper Skagit Tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and the Lummi Nation replace older marine engines with newer, cleaner and more efficient ones.
“Puget Sound tribal communities depend on fishing, and this funding for cleaner marine engines results in tribal fleets that are better for the air and for the health of tribal communities,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10. “Funding through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act provides an important opportunity to leverage public and tribal funds for cleaner marine vessels.”
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community received $792,000 to replace 12 older engines in its Swinomish Fishing Fleet with new, low-emission diesel engines. The project will further achieve emissions reduction from vessels using the shore power pedestals at the fisherman’s docks by allowing engines to be shut down while loading and unloading.
The Lummi Nation received $77,250 to reduce diesel pollution from two marine fishing fleet vessels that are used to harvest salmon, halibut, crab and shrimp. The Lummi Reservation is located in Whatcom County and is ranked among the 80th percentile of the worst counties in the United States for the number of people living in areas where cancer risk from Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) exceeds 1 in 10,000, for which diesel emissions is a high contributing factor. The average year of diesel engines in the Lummi fishing fleet is 1992.
The Upper Skagit Tribe received $55,890 to fund a marine engine repower project for its Fisheries Regulatory Compliance vessel used in the ports around Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties. Waterways immediately adjacent to the Skagit/Samish watersheds experience a disproportionate amount of air pollution from diesel fleets.
Though very efficient, diesel engines emit air pollutants linked to a range of health problems including asthma and other respiratory ailments, lung and heart disease, and even premature death, the EPA said.
Older engines have poor performance, low fuel-efficiency and high emissions. The EPA cites repowering marine vessels as one of the most efficient and cost-effective techniques for cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Grant funding is not exclusive to marine engine retrofits. Other eligible projects include heavy-duty diesel trucks, locomotives, energy production generators, buses and other diesel engines.
Grant proposals from tribal applicants are due by July 15, 2015, and can be submitted at http://epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgtribal.htm.