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Pennsylvania DEP awards nearly $517,000 in clean diesel grants

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) awarded $516,637 in clean diesel grants to four organizations. Each of the four recipients will match a percentage of the grant amount with their own funds to purchase compressed natural gas-powered vehicles; retrofit diesel engines with cleaner technology; replace older, more polluting diesel buses with cleaner diesel buses; or purchase hybrid electric-powered buses.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the five-county Philadelphia region of Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties as non-attainment for ozone and fine particulate matter air quality standards.

Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties are currently designated as non-attainment for federal particulate matter standards. Recent monitoring indicates these counties’ particulate matter levels are meeting the standards, but continuous compliance must occur before EPA will grant an attainment designation.

The clean diesel program’s goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered transit bus and school bus fleets. The program supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions; purchase and install idle-reduction technology; or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.

Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, forms during warm weather when pollution from vehicles, industry, homes and power plants “bakes” in the hot sun, making it difficult for some people to breathe.

DEP is funding the grants through a combination of the state's Clean Air Fund, which is financed by permitting fees and enforcement penalties, and a September 2010 award from EPA administered under the federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act.

The projects are:

  • Bucks County Transport (BCT): With a $120,000 grant and $280,000 match for diesel bus replacement and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) deployment, Bucks County Transport’s goal is to purchase four 2011 heavy-duty CNG-fueled buses to replace diesel-powered buses. The CNG buses would be fueled at the new Bucks County Public Access CNG station under development in Fairless Hills. BCT anticipates the new CNG buses will displace 8,800 gallons of diesel fuel each year. Additional benefits include annual reductions of 2,500 pounds of nitrous oxide, 32 pounds of particulate matter, 52 pounds of hydrocarbons and 484 pounds of carbon monoxide.

  • Jennings Transportation Corp.: With a $315,036 grant and $15,550 match for “Clean Air for Kids in the Lehigh Valley,” Jennings will retrofit 50 school buses from its 65-bus fleet, which provides service in Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, all of which were designated as non-attainment for particulate matter standards by the EPA. Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties recently achieved attainment status for federal ozone standards. Jennings will install diesel particulate filters in 24 of the buses, which will reduce up to 90 percent of particulate matter emissions. The remaining 26 buses will be fitted with diesel oxidation catalyst systems that reduce particulate matter emissions by 20 percent. Such reductions will assist the area in achieving the needed reductions in particulate matter to comply with federal standards.

  • Kuhn Transportation LLC: With a $21,614 grant and $64,850 match for an early replacement of one of their buses, Kuhn Transportation plans to purchase a 2011 Thomas bus, resulting in increased fuel mileage and a significant reduction in emissions. The replaced school bus averages six miles per gallon and uses approximately 1,100 gallons of diesel fuel each year. The new Thomas-built bus is rated for 10 miles per gallon and is equipped with the latest industrial standards for emission controls, resulting in a 90% reduction in NOx, a 97% reduction in particulate matter, a 98% reduction in hydrocarbons and a 94% reduction in carbon monoxide.

  • Berks County Intermediate Unit (BCIU): With a $59,987 grant and $59,394 match for “Lean, Green and Seen: BCIU eBus Goes to School,” Berks County Intermediate Unit’s goal is to purchase a 2011 heavy-duty, hybrid-electric bus to replace a diesel-powered bus and displace approximately 996 gallons of diesel fuel each year. Additional environmental benefits include a 48% reduction in NOx, 94%reduction in particulate matter, 48% reduction in hydrocarbons and 34% reduction in carbon monoxide compared with the replaced diesel-powered bus.

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