SACE wins EPA Clean Diesel Award

Guest Blog | December 14, 2010 | Energy Policy
387-09-2005-grn-truck-wblur-lowresrgb1Today, SACE is pleased to announce our recent $5 million award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the creation of our new program “Clean Trucks Make Cents” (CTMC). The award, which SACE received through EPA’s SmartWay Clean Finance Program, will be used to guarantee loans for the purchase or lease of pre-2007 tractor-trailer trucks that have been retrofit with pollution control devices and idling reduction technology. The program will help truckers and businesses who are in the market for used big rigs to buy cleaner-running, more-efficient trucks.

New federal emissions standards for diesel engines were established in 2007.  Unfortunately, the rules do not apply to existing “legacy” engines built before 2007. Diesel engines are known for their durability. The downside of their longevity is that these pre-2007 engines are likely to continue to spew toxic emissions across the region for many years to come–until 2036 or later– unless they are retrofit. This program is aimed to help address an important handful of those engines.

The current costs of technology have made retrofits for existing tractor-trailer trucks prohibitive for many vehicle owners.  SACE’s new CTMC program is designed specifically to help drivers and small businesses who would normally have trouble qualifying for financing, and to give these drivers the option to move to a cleaner, greener truck. The program lowers the current threshold and makes clean technology more widely available through less-restrictive qualifying requirements for end- users.  This type of customer, prior to this program, simply could not buy a truck.  CTMC will help make cleaner trucks more accessible.

Diesel exhaust from trucks, buses, construction equipment and other diesel-powered vehicles contains particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and over 40 chemicals that are classified as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act.

Photo courtesy of Clean Air Task Force
Diesel Particle: Image courtesy of Clean Air Task Force

Studies of occupational exposure to diesel exhaust have been conducted to determine the effects on truck drivers, bus drivers, dockworkers and railroad workers over the past three decades. A 1999 meta-analysis of all occupational studies published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that workers exposed to diesel exhaust have a 47 percent higher risk of lung cancer relative to unexposed workers.

There is simply no safe level of exposure. Diesel emissions affect everyone and is a localized issue because the emissions tend to concentrate in “hot spots” within a mile of where the pollution occurs. Children and the elderly face the greatest risks. They are more vulnerable because their lungs are still developing and they also breathe faster, spend more time outdoors, and take in more air for their size than adults.  To determine your health risks to diesel exhaust in your area, click here.

Many studies show that diesel exhaust contributes to cancer, asthma, premature death, and respiratory illnesses.  Diesel pollution increases ground level ozone, smog, acid rain and global warming.  In the Southeast, there are approximately 62 counties that do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for 8-hr ozone, which affects more than 16 million people.  And, there are approximately 47 counties that do not meet the annual NAAQS for PM2.5, affecting approximately 8 million people.  Many, if not most, of these areas are highly populated and/or major transportation corridors where the trucks that are retrofit through CTMC will primarily operate.

Regardless of designations such as nonattainment areas, there is simply “no escape” from diesel exhaust. The Clean Air Task Force‘s report “No Escape from Diesel Exhaust,” explains the widespread nature of exposure to diesel emissions.  Whether you commute by car, bus, ferry, train, or on foot, you may be exposed to a high level of diesel particles. Diesel particle levels can be four to eight times higher inside commuter cars, buses, and trains than in the ambient outdoor air in cities.  A large percentage of tractor trailer trucks operate within major corridors and delivery sites where these high levels of diesel emissions are reported. “Clean Trucks Makes Cents” is strategically designed to reduce these emissions and exposure.

Over the duration of the project, we estimate that we will retrofit approximately 800 trucks, ultimately reducing the emissions from each truck up to 90 percent and saving more than 11 million gallons of diesel fuel.

SACE is partnering with Rush Truck Centers to implement the CTMC program. Rush Truck Centers will be the exclusive vendors for these ‘greener’ used trucks. The retrofit trucks will become available first at their Nashville (Smyrna), Tenn., dealership, and eventually at other locations throughout the Southeast.

CTMC supports the goals of EPA’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, an innovative collaboration between U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the freight industry designed to increase energy efficiency while significantly reducing greenhouse gases and air pollution. The CTMC program contributes to the SmartWay Transport Partnership goals by significantly reducing dangerous emissions from trucks that operate through major transportation corridors throughout the Southeast. The program will ultimately reduce emissions and exposure, and will especially benefit communities near major transportation corridors or delivery sites such as rail yards, grocery stores and distribution centers.

SACE is thrilled that our unique program has been selected by EPA as an award recipient, and we look forward to playing a direct role in reducing toxic emissions from trucks traveling in the Southeast.

Those interested in buying a retrofit diesel truck can contact Rush Truck Centers in Nashville, Winter Garden or Tampa, or search inventory online at Retrofitted trucks will be available in early 2011. Details on the CTMC program will also be available at CTMC will continue throughout 2014.

Check out today’s coverage of CTMC in The Tennessean.

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