Kentucky’s Clean Diesel Grant Program Improves Air Quality

Diesel engines can be found in communities everywhere. From the construction industry to transportation, industry to farms, diesel engines provide an efficient means to power a variety of machinery. While efficient, not every diesel engine is as “clean” as those manufactured after 2006 when the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) heavy duty highway and non-road engine standards took effect. In fact, EPA estimates that there are 11 million older diesel engines that remain in use.

The primary pollutants of concern from diesel engines are nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). Both of these can contribute to respiratory problems including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma. In addition, NOx reacts with volatile organic compounds to form ground-level ozone that contributes to reduced lung function. This is compounded when NOx reacts with other compounds to form fine particles that worsen respiratory diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis and can aggravate existing heart diseases in patients.

To help reduce diesel emissions, the Kentucky Division for Air Quality has been administering the Clean Diesel Grant program since 2008. Monies from the grant are provided by EPA through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), which through the National Clean Diesel Campaign, promotes clean air strategies by working with manufacturers, fleet operators, air quality professionals, environmental and community organizations, and state and local officials to reduce diesel emissions.

In the four years (EPA FY 2008-2011) since the grant program’s inception, $986,257 has been spent on clean diesel projects throughout Kentucky. Clean diesel refers to a number of advancing technologies such as diesel particulate filters, auxiliary power units, and engine repowers that help “clean and green” older vehicles. The DAQ-funded projects range from school districts to local governments and independent businesses. In total, DAQ’s Clean Diesel Grant program has resulted in lifetime reductions of 215 tons of NOx, 14 tons of PM, 20 tons of hydrocarbons, 103 tons of carbon monoxide, and 193 tons of carbon dioxide.

These emission reductions are improving Kentucky’s environment both at the statewide and local level and meeting the needs of the community. Through this program, DAQ and the Commonwealth are seeing improved air quality, health benefits, and reaping the benefits of additional fuel savings.

“The Clean Diesel Grant program that DAQ administers enables us to get money directly into the hands of communities and businesses to improve Kentucky’s air quality”, said DAQ Director John Lyons.

In the fall, DAQ will begin the EPA 2013 funding cycle for state grant projects. To learn more about how you can access funding for clean diesel projects in Kentucky, please visit around October 2013 for Request for Proposal and eligibility information.