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EPA New England works with school districts, state agencies and industry to promote the use of cleaner fuels and advanced pollution reduction technology. There are over dozens of diesel retrofit projects underway in New England, affecting more than 10,000 vehicles. School buses, transit buses, locomotives, construction equipment, tourist trolleys and diesel equipment used at ports are among the types of vehicles that have been retrofitted. The type of retrofit equipment in use includes diesel particulate matter filters, diesel oxidation catalysts, and crankcase filters. In addition, some projects are using cleaner fuels such as ultra low sulfur diesel and biodiesel. Although many projects have been funded with federal or state resources, some have been funded with private funds and others are the result of contract specifications requiring retrofitted equipment.
In addition, every New England state has a program underway to reduce diesel emissions. Connecticut (PDF) (347 pp, 7.7 MB) and Rhode Island have adopted diesel reduction action plans. In Massachusetts (PDF) (2 pp, 55 K), a December 2006 landmark agreement between the Department of Environmental Protection and the Executive Office of Transportation has resulted in $22.5 million in funding to retrofit every school bus and transit bus in the state by 2010. Maine has developed a comprehensive program to reduce emissions from school buses through a combination of retrofits and anti-idling policies. New Hampshire has launched a voluntary initiative to reduce idling from school buses through a partnership with the New Hampshire School Transportation Association (NHSTA). Vermont is using EPA Clean School Bus funding to implement a project to retrofit school buses statewide and is also working to develop idling restrictions for school buses.
Northeast Diesel Collaborative
EPA New England, aware of the value of working together to combat emissions, has joined with EPA Region 2, the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and the governments of the eight northeastern states to establish the Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC). The NEDC combines the expertise of public and private partners in a coordinated regional initiative to significantly reduce diesel emissions from existing fleets in five key sectors: municipal, transit, freight, construction, and ports. Recent achievements by NEDC and its partners include:
- As part of a landmark $22.5 million agreement between the environmental protection and transportation agencies in Massachusetts, regional transit and school buses statewide will be equipped with advanced pollution controls.
- Four states have new laws requiring emissions controls on public fleets, including school buses (CT, NJ, RI), garbage trucks (NJ), all state-owned or contracted vehicles (NY), and municipal vehicles (NJ).
- NESCAUM, on behalf of NEDC, is retrofitting 500 to 600 utility company vehicles throughout the eight-state region.
- In the inaugural year of the NEDC Emissions Reduction Grant Program, EPA Regions 1 and 2 awarded $1.4 million to eight organizations in CT, MA, ME, NJ, NY, and VT to reduce pollution from diesel school buses, construction equipment, and locomotives.
The NEDC is joining other organizations in New England to help with local efforts to reduce diesel emissions. One such initiative is Greater Boston Breathes Better (GB3), which involves government, businesses, schools and non-profit organizations working to reduce air pollution from transportation and construction sources in and around Boston. GB3 provides a range of options to companies, institutions, and municipalities that want to reduce air pollution and air toxics from mobile sources.
New England is fortunate to have one of the nation's largest and most extensive public transit systems, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). MBTA buses, boats, and trains serve more than 4.6 million people in 175 cities and towns with an area of 3,244 square miles. In addition, commuter bus services connect people traveling from rural and suburban locations to Boston and other urban centers in New England.
Public transportation is a safe and reliable alternative to driving alone which helps to reduce traffic congestion and regional air pollution, and save commuters money. However, the diesel exhaust from transit vehicles contains particulate matter, which can potentially cause serious health problems. Exposure to elevated particulate levels can increase the likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravate heart or lung disease, and cause premature mortality in people with cardiopulmonary disease and older people.
Nationally, more than 95 percent of buses used for public transportation are powered by diesel fuel. EPA New England is working with state and local partners to encourage retrofitting, replacing and reducing idling from the existing fleet of transit buses. To date, the MBTA has upgraded its fleet of nearly 1000 buses with a combination of cleaner vehicles and buses retrofitted with advanced emission control technology. For a closer look at the makeup of the transit fleets in your state, click here (PDF) (1 pg, 1.5MB).