HARRISBURG, PA (EYT) – The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) earlier this week launched Electrifying Truck Fleets for Cleaner Air in Our Communities, a $12.7 million Driving PA Forward initiative to improve air quality by supporting the local electrification of trucks.
(Pictured above: DEP Environmental Justice Director Justin Dula speaks to the press about a $12.7 million Driving PA Forward initiative to improve air quality by funding the electrification of local trucks.)
Projects that serve environmental justice areas, high-traffic areas and Act 47 financially distressed communities are given the highest priority for funding.
“Our latest initiative, Driving PA Forward, aims to support the transformative scale of electrifying local trucks to improve air quality in communities with some of the highest levels of air pollution in Pennsylvania,” said Ramez Ziadeh, DEP acting secretary. “A growing number of communities are proactively striving for healthier air quality and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They’re interested in zero-emission electric options for the kind of trucks that regularly drive their neighborhoods. To support the transition to electric vehicles, DEP will provide at least 75% and in some cases 100% of the funding for the electrification of local truck fleets.”
Additionally, DEP announced $1.7 million in Driving PA Forward State Clean Diesel Grants for three projects to replace legacy diesel trucks with zero-emission or low-emission trucks.
Driving PA Forward is a series of grant and rebate programs established by the Wolf Administration in 2018 with Pennsylvania’s part in the national settlement with the Volkswagen Group of America over US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions test fraud. To date, more than $70 million in Driving PA Forward funding has been awarded to reduce air pollution by replacing legacy diesel vehicles with cleaner transportation options and encouraging the adoption of zero-emission vehicles through investments in the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Electrifying truck fleets for cleaner air in our communities
A total of $12.7 million is available to local governments, businesses and non-profit organizations to replace at least five old diesel trucks with new all-electric versions. (An exception can be made for smaller fleets to support three electric trucks.)
Funding includes local trucks such as refuse, recycling, supply and delivery trucks, as well as charging infrastructure and installation. The scholarship holders have two years to scrap their old diesel vehicles and get the new electric truck fleets on the road.
The DEP provides 90% of project funding to local communities, or 100% when a community is in financial hardship under Act 47. DEP will provide 75% of project funding to non-governmental applicants.
Projects located in areas of environmental justice, high traffic density, or serving communities are given the highest priority.
“This new Driving PA Forward initiative will help address concerns we’ve heard directly from residents of environmental justice communities about air quality issues by helping to identify some of the most commonly seen and polluting vehicles on the road in the neighborhood to switch to cleaner electrical alternatives. said DEP Director of Environmental Justice Justin Dula.
A second priority of electrifying truck fleets for cleaner air in our communities is meeting the demand for real-world information on Pennsylvania’s EV transition.
Grantees will provide data on how they purchased their electric trucks, installed charging stations and, once the vehicles become operational, operational data on fleet performance.
“We know from our work with community and business leaders that their interest in electric vehicles comes with a need for logistical information. How long does an electric truck take to charge? How long does the charge last? What are the operating costs? What are the fuel savings?” said Acting Secretary Ziadeh. “Using two years of on-site data from grantees, we will develop case studies to expand the knowledge base on electric truck operation, performance and maintenance in Pennsylvania.”
State Clean Diesel Grants for three electric truck projects
Additionally, earlier this week, DEP awarded $1.7 million to Driving PA Forward State Clean Diesel Grants for three projects to replace legacy diesel trucks with zero-emission or low-emission trucks.
- SMS Mill Services: $1,176,367. The scrap steel recycler will replace three older diesel material handlers with three new all-electric material handlers at its Coatesville, Chester County facility. The project will remove an estimated 1,315 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 954 pounds of carbon monoxide, 238 pounds of particulate matter (PM2.5), 249 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants from the air annually in an area of environmental justice.
- Metalico Pittsburgh: $499,202. The scrap processor will replace an older diesel material handler and diesel material loader with a new all-electric material handler and clean diesel loader at its facility in Neville Island, an environmental justice area. The project will remove an estimated 5.25 tons of NOx, 52 tons of carbon monoxide, 596 pounds of PM2.5, 400 tons of CO2 and other pollutants from the air annually.
- Dietz & Watson: $83,250. The deli will replace an older diesel transport refrigeration unit (TRU) with a new all-electric TRU at its Tacony Street facility in Philadelphia. TRUs are used to refrigerate perishable goods in road trailers and shipping containers. The project will remove an estimated 422 pounds of NOx, 146 pounds of carbon monoxide, 34 pounds of PM2.5, 24 tons of CO2 and other pollutants from the air annually.
Fossil fuel vehicles emit 50.2% of the NOx in Pennsylvania air, along with carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and hydrocarbons, according to EPA data.
Health effects of this air pollution include the premature deaths of people with heart or lung disease; Heart attack; aggravated asthma; and increased respiratory symptoms such as coughing or difficulty breathing. In 2019, approximately one in eight children and one in six adults in Pennsylvania reported a diagnosis of asthma at some point in their lives. This is higher than the national per capita asthma rate.
The lifetime prevalence of asthma is highest among people living in low-income communities such as B. in communities for environmental justice.
At 22% of the state’s CO2 emissions, fossil fuel vehicles are also Pennsylvania’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions and a significant contributor to climate change.
Electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions. For comparison, a 15-year-old diesel garbage truck that travels about 14,000 miles annually has emitted an average of more than 1.1 tons of NOx over its lifetime. Thousands of old diesel garbage trucks are in use in Pennsylvania.
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