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DEP awards clean diesel grants

Published August 26. 2011 05:02PM

HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced it has awarded $516,637 in clean diesel grants to four organizations, inclduing one Carbon County business.

Kuhn Transportation LLC, of Jim Thorpe, will use a grant to implement clean diesel technology. It joins Bucks County Transport, of Holicong; Jennings Transportation Corp., of Nazareth, Northampton County; and Berks County Intermediate Unit, of Reading.

"There are three primary benefits to the grants: these bus fleets will run cleaner, they'll require less fuel, and the state will move ahead in attaining and maintaining federally required national ambient air quality standards," DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said.

Each of the four recipients will match a percentage of the grant amount with their own funds to purchase compressed natural gas-powered vehicles; retrofit diesel engines with cleaner technology; replace older, more polluting diesel buses with cleaner diesel buses; or purchase hybrid electric-powered buses. The implementation of such technology will result in reduced emissions and fuel use from the recipients' fleets.

With a $21,614 grant and $64,850 match, Kuhn Transportation plans to purchase a 2011 Thomas-built bus as an early replacement of one of their buses. This will result in increased fuel mileage and a significant reduction in emissions. The replaced school bus averages six miles per gallon and uses approximately 1,100 gallons of diesel fuel each year.

The new Thomas bus is rated for 10 miles per gallon and is equipped with the latest industrial standards for emission controls, resulting in a 90-percent reduction in nitrous oxide, a 97-percent reduction in particulate matter, a 98-percent reduction in hydrocarbons and a 94-percent reduction in carbon monoxide.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the five-county Philadelphia region of Bucks, Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties as non-attainment for ozone and fine particulate matter air quality standards. A "non-attainment" designation means air quality in the region does not meet federal standards.

Berks, Lehigh and Northampton counties are currently designated as non-attainment for federal particulate matter standards. Recent monitoring indicates these counties' particulate matter levels are meeting the standards, but continuous compliance must occur before EPA will grant an attainment designation.

The clean diesel program's goal is to improve air quality by decreasing emissions from diesel-powered transit bus and school bus fleets. The program supports projects that re-power or retrofit fleet vehicles to curb emissions; purchase and install idle-reduction technology; or purchase clean alternative-fuel fleet vehicles.

Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, forms during warm weather when pollution from vehicles, industry, homes and power plants "bakes" in the hot sun, making it difficult for some people to breathe.

DEP is funding the grants through a combination of the state's Clean Air Fund, which is financed by permitting fees and enforcement penalties, and a September 2010 award from EPA administered under the federal Diesel Emission Reduction Act.

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