Taxpayers Funding $1.1M for NC's Reduction of Diesel Emissions Program

The funding is aimed at a wide range of projects, including the replacement or repowering of school buses, trains and heavy-duty vehicles.

North Carolina Department of Transportation trucks are at Little Elkin Baptist Church near Luffman Farm in Ronda, NC, on Aug. 16, 2023. Photo by Robert Luffman Luffman Farms, via NC DOT Facebook.

More than $1 million from taxpayers will be spent to support the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce emissions from diesel vehicles in North Carolina, part of $115 million in total federal spending.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Air Quality is soliciting grant applications for $1.1 million in funds for projects that will reduce emissions from diesel engines.

The funding is aimed at a wide range of projects, including the replacement or repowering of school buses, nonroad construction and agricultural equipment, heavy-duty on-road vehicles and trains with new equipment and vehicles.

“Projects to replace diesel vehicles with electric vehicles receive bonus points during the scoring process,” a release said. “Bonus points are also available to projects in environmental justice communities or historically under-resources counties, as well as to projects submitted by minority-owned or women-owned businesses.”

The state’s 2023 Mobile Sources Emissions Reductions grant program is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, which the Biden administration is leveraging to move toward the president’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions “as soon as possible, no later than 2050.”

The Biden administration in August announced the availability of $115 million in grant funding through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, with plans to distribute four to 10 awards in each of the EPA’s 10 regions. The awards comply with the Justice40 Initiative requiring at least 40% of federal investments go to disadvantaged communities.

North Carolina awards through the program last year provided $1.3 million to replace 10 vehicles, roughly $130,000 per vehicle. The investment saved about 40 tons of nitrogen oxide emissions and eliminated more than 2,600 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality.

“Throughout the years, this crucial program to reduce diesel emissions has improved air quality and provided far-reaching public health benefits by reducing hundreds of thousands of tons of air pollution and saving millions in gallons of fuel,” Joseph Goffman, administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, said in a statement announcing the funding.

The department is accepting grant applications through Feb. 2.

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