Diesel fumes are bad for people. But diesel power is good for a lot of heavy-duty work. So, for now, one answer to threading the needle of that little conundrum is to make diesel engines as clean as possible. To that end, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced $9 million worth of grant funds from the DERA National Funding Assistance Program. If the EPA's numbers are correct, that money could be worth something like $117 million in public health benefits.

The money is meant to be spent in two general categories (which could overlap): projects that are cost-effective and ones that aim to improve the mess we've made in "areas designated as poor air quality areas." Even though, "diesel engines are extremely efficient," the EPA says, their drawback is air pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). Therefore, the $9 million could go to help "school buses, transit buses, heavy-duty diesel trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and other diesel engines" add things like, "verified exhaust control and idle reduction devices, and vehicle and engine replacement." No matter how clean the diesel is, it'll never be as tailpipe-emissions clean as an all-electric school bus, but that's another matter.

Groups interested in submitting a proposal have until June 17th to do so, and award announcements should happen in September. Details here.
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EPA Announces Funding Availability to Clean Up Diesel Engines Nationwide

Funding for diesel clean-up targeting cost-effective projects and poor air quality areas

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the availability of $9 million in grant funding for clean diesel projects to reduce diesel pollution and emissions exposure from the nation's existing fleet of diesel engines.

The funding comes from EPA's Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERA) and will target the most cost-effective projects and fleets operating in areas designated as poor air quality areas.

Diesel engines are extremely efficient but emit air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, other respiratory ailments, and even premature death.

Under this funding, EPA anticipates awarding between 10 and 20 assistance agreements. Various strategies are eligible for achieving diesel emission reductions, such as installing verified exhaust control and idle reduction devices, and vehicle and engine replacement. Projects may include school buses, transit buses, heavy-duty diesel trucks, marine engines, locomotives, and other diesel engines.

Since the start of the DERA program in 2008, it has improved air quality and provided critical health benefits by reducing hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution and saving millions of gallons of fuel. EPA estimates that clean diesel funding generates up to $13 of public health benefit for every $1 spent on diesel projects.

EPA has awarded over 600 DERA grants across the US and reduced more than 250,000 tons of NOx and more than 14,000 tons of PM. Many of these projects fund cleaner diesel engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities whose residents suffer from higher-than-average instances of asthma, heart, and lung disease.

The closing date for receipt of proposals is June 17, 2014.

More information and to access the Request for Proposals and other documents: http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgnational.htm

More information on EPA's National Clean Diesel campaign: http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel

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