Clean diesel grants aimed at cleaning up old diesel engines have greatly improved public health by cutting harmful pollution that causes premature deaths, asthma attacks, and missed school and workdays, according to a new report by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since its start in 2008, the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) program has significantly improved air quality for communities across the country by retrofitting and replacing older diesel engines. From 2009 to 2013, EPA awarded $520 million to retrofit or replace 58,800 engines in vehicles, vessels, locomotives or other pieces of equipment.
EPA estimates that these projects will reduce emissions by 312,500 tons of NOx and 12,000 tons of PM2.5 over the lifetime of the affected engines. As a result of these pollution reductions, EPA estimates a total present value of up to $11 billion in monetized health benefits over the lifetime of the affected engines, which include up to 1,700 fewer premature deaths associated with the emission reductions achieved over this same period. These clean diesel projects also are estimated to reduce 18,900 tons of hydrocarbon (HC) and 58,700 tons of carbon monoxide (CO) over the lifetime of the affected engines.
The program has also saved 450 million gallons of fuel and prevented 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions—equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions from more than 900,000 cars. EPA estimates that clean diesel funding generates up to $13 of public health benefit for every $1 spent on diesel projects.
Operating throughout our transportation infrastructure today, 10.3 million older diesel engines—the nation’s “legacy fleet,” built before 2008—need to be replaced or repowered to reduce air pollutants. While some of these will be retired over time, many will remain in use, polluting America’s air for the next 20 years. DERA grants and rebates are gradually replacing legacy engines with cleaner diesel engines. Priority is given to fleets in regions with disproportionate amounts of diesel pollution, such as those near ports and rail yards.
This third report to Congress presents the final results from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and covers fiscal years 2009-2011. It also estimates the impacts from grants funded in fiscal years 2011-2013.
Additional report highlights include:
Environmental benefits: 18,900 tons of hydrocarbon prevented; 4,836,100 tons of CO2 prevented; 450 million gallons of fuel saved
Public health benefits: up to $12.6 billion in monetized health benefits; up to 1,700 fewer premature deaths; although not quantified in the report, NOx and PM reductions also prevent asthma attacks, sick days, and emergency room visits.
Program Accomplishments: 642 grants funded; $570 million funds awarded; 73,000 vehicles or engines retrofitted or replaced; 81% of projects targeted to areas with air quality challenges; 3:1 leveraging of funds from non-federal sources.