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Twin Cities Receives $1.85 Million Grant To Reduce Diesel Engine Pollution

Environmental Initiative, St. Paul, Minn., is significantly growing its clean diesel efforts through Project Green Fleet due to a $1.85 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This Diesel Emissions Reduction Act grant is the 11th grant Environmental Initiative has received from the EPA.

Environmental Initiative will use the grant to reduce diesel pollution in the Twin Cities by replacing or retrofitting older diesel engines with newer, cleaner ones. The funding will be used for a towboat, four Class 8 trucks, three front-end loaders, one locomotive, one material handler, and one crane, all of which operate on or near the Mississippi River. This work will remove the pollution reduction equivalent of approximately 30,000 cars from the road annually.

These projects will be part of Environmental Initiative’s Project Green Fleet, an award-winning, voluntary program that provides pollution control equipment for heavy diesel vehicles at low or no cost to participating businesses. Project Green Fleet started in 2005 as an initiative of Clean Air Minnesota, a cross-sector coalition of air quality leaders who work proactively to reduce air pollution in Minnesota.

In its 15 years in operation, the efforts of Clean Air Minnesota have reduced the air quality equivalent of 1.3 million cars from the road annually with statewide impact through collaborative, voluntary, cost-effective means.

“This grant will allow us to help businesses upgrade their vehicles with cleaner equipment many years ahead of when normal fleet attrition would occur,” said Bill Droessler, senior director of project development and clean air at Environmental Initiative. “Public/private collaborations like Project Green Fleet spur environmental, economic and health benefits for our entire region.”

“EPA’s grant will support clean air projects to help people in Minneapolis and St. Paul breathe easier,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Clean diesel grants also spur innovation and support jobs by replacing older, dirtier engines with newer, cleaner ones.”

“This clean diesel work sets a wonderful example of preventive, beyond-regulation, pollution-reduction work accomplished through unique partnerships across many communities,” said Leigh Currie, energy program director at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and co-chair of Clean Air Minnesota.

Minnesota’s air quality is generally good and has improved over the last decade. Cross-sector collaborations—like Clean Air Minnesota—are key to keeping Minnesota’s air clean because much of the state’s air pollution comes from widespread, less-regulated sources like cars, trucks, construction equipment and other large diesel vehicles and boats.

“Voluntary private investments being made in air quality work in Minnesota are a win-win-win for the environment, the economy and regional air quality,” said Tony Kwilas, director of environmental policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of Clean Air Minnesota.

Clean Air Minnesota leverages state, local, philanthropic and private investments to help Minnesotans breathe easy, including investing more than $12 million over the past 10 years to support Project Green Fleet.

“It is unique that air quality leaders from local communities, private businesses and local government have come together under Clean Air Minnesota to voluntarily work to reduce harmful air pollution in Minnesota,” said Dave Benke, director of the resources and assistance division at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “Reducing the number of older, higher-polluting diesel engines produces big environmental and health benefits that will go a long way toward reducing air pollution.”

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