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ARB Releases Draft Concept Paper on Allocation of Initial $250M of $1B Funding for Clean Air Projects

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Initial funding targets for the GMERP. Click to enlarge.

The Air California Resources Board released a draft concept paper to support the allocation of the first $250-million phase of the $1 billion Goods Movement Emission Reduction Program (GMERP) generated by Proposition 1B funding. The program will fund projects to reduce air pollution associated with the movement of goods by trucks, trains, ships and harbor craft.

After a public process, ARB will convert the concept into guidelines that the Board must approve by the end of this year.

Proposition 1B was a transportation bond put on the ballot by the Legislature and before the voters in November 2006. It was part of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Strategic Growth Plan and included $1 billion to accelerate air quality improvements from the freight transport industry. Voters approved the near $20 billion bond which also made significant investments in highway improvements, congestion relief, expanded public transit, safer rail crossings, and improved anti-terrorism security at shipping ports.

The 2007-08 Budget, signed by Governor Schwarzenegger last month, funds the initial $250 million of the $1 billion set aside for air quality improvement projects in Proposition 1B.

The funds will be invested in projects intended to improve air quality related to the movement of goods along four major transportation corridors:

  • Los Angeles ports to the Inland Empire

  • State Route 99 in the Central Valley

  • San Francisco Bay Area

  • San Diego border region

The Board is focused on funding projects that reduce emissions and health risk, incorporate simplicity and efficiency, ensure cost-effectiveness, leverage other funding sources, and provide transparency and accountability. Heavy-duty trucks, drayage and other, represent the bulk of the funding ($740 million, of 74%), at least in this first iteration of the proposal. Initial concept targets are:

  • Heavy diesel drayage trucks serving seaports and intermodal rail yards: $400 million

  • Other heavy diesel trucks that haul commercial cargo, plus any truck stop or distribution center electrification projects: $340 million

  • Diesel freight locomotives: $100 million

  • Shore power for cargo ships at berth, plus any cargo handling equipment projects: $100 million

  • Commercial harbor craft: $60 million

ARB staff considered several factors identified in the statute to develop the draft funding targets by source category. ARB is conducting a public process for further developing the guidelines. Public meetings will start in early October to discuss program development, program guidelines and staff draft concepts:

  • Long Beach (October 1)
  • San Diego (October 3)
  • Oakland (October 4)
  • Fresno (October 10)
  • Sacramento (October 11)

The program guidelines will identify the criteria, procedures and specific requirements to be followed by local agencies and equipment owners to receive bond funding. The Air Board will consider approval of the program guidelines at a public hearing in December. Staff will then solicit applications from local agencies and the Board will select projects for the initial $250 million by June of 2008.

The program is likely capable of reducing combined emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and diesel particulate matter by more than 250,000 tons during the life of the bond-funded equipment. Anticipated funding for widespread application of diesel particulate filters on trucks, the greatest reduction in health risk will be achieved in the first five years of the program to immediately reduce the existing health impacts.

Bond funds will flow via grants from ARB to local agencies, then to equipment owners. At both steps in the process, there is competition to ensure that the most beneficial projects are funded. The key elements of the competition will be the ability of the project to reduce emissions and the readiness of the local agencies and the equipment owners to expedite every step of the process to get cleaner equipment operating sooner. The program will also need to complement ARB regulatory programs by providing incentives to achieve faster or greater progress.

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