Private business owners and private truck drivers can benefit from a $70,000 grant the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission has obtained to reduce emissions from diesel trucks.
In addition to public sector improvements, the 2010 State DERA Clean Diesel grant will allow private truck drivers to install technology that can both reduce their emissions as well as their costs of operation. Among these improvements, for example, are idle reduction units for an approximate cost of $3,000 versus the usual $12,000. Idle reduction units reduce the amount of fuel needed to operate an over-the-road truck by using a smaller auxiliary power engine to keep heat, lights and power going inside the trucker’s cab on overnight trips.
Also eligible for grant funding are engine replacements; particulate filters, catalytic converters and fuel conversion kits.
Most of the matches are 25 percent for private businesses and nothing for public entities. Engine replacements are a 25 percent match for both private and public entities. Fuel conversion grants cover the cost differential between diesel and the alternative fuel for a year.
To be eligible for the grant whether public or private sector, the owner of the diesel equipment must reside in St. Francois County, Ste. Genevieve, Iron, Madison, Bollinger, Perry or Cape counties.
Other areas with a similar program are the St. Louis Metro area, Kansas City and Springfield.
David Grimes, deputy director of the planning commission, said the grant is part of proactive efforts to stave off a designation of nonattainment by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The region has two monitors that are picking up readings on ozone precursors from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico, Ohio River Valley and St. Louis, Grimes said.
Ozone is created when certain volatile organics interact with sunlight. The volatile compounds are generally very lightweight, however, and easily carried long distances before breaking down.
“What’s going on right now is EPA is in the process of reconsidering the rules they promulgated in 2008,” Grimes said. “Under 2008 rules we are in compliance. Under any decision they make under the new standard they are looking at, we are not, but we are only talking about a few parts per billion. So if we can keep that much of the precursors out of the air, it might be enough.”
Grimes said he is concerned because he doesn’t have many applications yet and the deadline is Feb. 1.
“We had to return funds to the state last year,” he said. “And I hope we do not have to do that again. This is really a simple application to complete, so I hope people who could use this program are not intimidated by a concern over complicated government paperwork.”
The application is available online at www.semorpc.org and Grimes can be reached at 573-547-8357, ext. 306 if any assistance is required filling out the forms.
Last year’s $300,000 grant paid for auxiliary power units on eight privately owned over-the-road trucks, three diesel oxidation catalytic converters for dump trucks in Ste. Genevieve, three early vehicle replacements for trash trucks in Cape Girardeau and two engine replacements for a private business in Cape Girardeau.
“We are purely unlucky enough to have monitors in our region,” Grimes said, pointing out the emissions levels aren’t dramatically different in the counties of neighboring rural regions without them. But since there is no monitor there, they won’t be designated as non-attainment when EPA comes out with its tougher standards.
That fact can put the area at a disadvantage on the economic development front, Grimes said, and as deputy director of regional development, that is his primary focus.
“Any opportunities that come up to do anything about reducing emissions, we will pursue,” Grimes said.