EPA Funding to Reduce Air Pollution from Locomotives and Buses Operating in New York City

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is helping New York City reduce air pollution with a $2 million grant to replace two old high polluting locomotive engines that operate in Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens with cleaner technology. The grant was awarded to the New York City Department of Small Business Services and its partner, the New York City Economic Development Corporation. In addition, EPA is granting the National School Transportation Association $460,753 to replace three older diesel school buses with new buses, retrofit 40 older school buses with emission control and idle reduction technologies and install idle reduction technologies on an additional 118 school buses. This project will improve air quality in the areas in which the buses operate, which includes Queens, Rockland and Nassau counties in New York. Older diesel engines generate significant amounts of fine particles, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide, which are released into the air and can make people sick.

“Reducing air pollution from diesel engines helps decrease asthma attacks, respiratory problems, lost work days due to illness and premature death,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA’s support of clean diesel programs is eliminating tons of particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and is providing enormous health benefits.”

The particles in diesel exhaust can penetrate deep into the lungs and pose serious health risks, including increasing the risk of cancer and aggravating the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems. In addition, diesel exhaust contributes to already unhealthy levels of smog, which are formed when chemicals released by vehicles, power plants and industrial boilers react in sunlight.

Nationwide, diesel engines emit 7.3 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides and 333,000 tons of fine particles annually. While EPA's standards significantly reduce emissions from newly manufactured engines, the clean diesel projects funded through these grants address older diesel engines that are still in use and continue to emit higher levels of harmful pollution.

Nationally, EPA has taken steps to ensure that the diesel engines manufactured now and in the future will be significantly cleaner than those operating today; however, diesel engines are very durable and older models will continue to be used and can pose health and environmental problems for decades. Repowering existing diesel engines with newer, cleaner engines is a relatively simple and cost effective way to reduce diesel pollution.

EPA’s efforts to reduce air pollution are ongoing. Last year, EPA announced tougher tailpipe emission standards for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2012-2016, which will result in cleaner vehicles - ultimately requiring an average fuel economy standard of 35 mpg in 2016. This will result in increased fuel economy of five percent every year, reduce greenhouse gas pollution by nearly 950 million metric tons and save the average car buyer more than $3,000 in fuel costs.

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