March 10, 2008 12:00 PM, EDT

CARB Set to Distribute $25 Million in Truck Retrofit, Replacement Grants

By Eric Miller, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the March 10 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

California environmental regulators said they will soon decide how to distribute early grants totaling $25 million for truck retrofits and replacements to help reduce diesel emissions at the state’s ports and intermodal facilities.

The California Air Resources Board on Feb. 28 approved the guidelines that will award the lion’s share of funding, nearly $14 million, to the Los Angeles/Inland Empire trade corridor.

Most of the early grants will be used to fund retrofits for older trucks. In all, CARB estimated the early grant funding will up-grade more than 1,000 trucks through retrofitting or replacement with cleaner-running new models.

CARB will distribute the funds through state air districts, re-gional transportation agencies and seaports.

The state grants authorize from $5,000 to $20,000 for drayage-truck retrofits and up to $50,000 for the cost of a new truck. The funding requires a commitment to do business only in California for up to eight years, depending on the amount of the grant.

The goal is to have 100% of all equipment contracts completed and the majority of the upgrades done by June 30, CARB officials said. All upgrades must be completed by Dec. 31.

The competitive process is well under way. Already, requests for more than $170 million in funding have been received, but CARB can grant only $25 million for fiscal year 2007-08, said Doug Ito, manager of CARB’s goods movement strategies section.

The grants, financed by $1 billion in bonds authorized by California voters in a 2006 referendum, include a total of $400 million in emission-reduction funding for heavy-duty diesel trucks serving seaports and intermodal rail facilities.

California ports such as Los Angeles and Long Beach plan to supplement the state grants for drayage truckers working at the ports by collecting a $35-per-container fee to be used for retrofits and new trucks.

CARB estimates the funding will decrease harmful emissions by about 7,800 tons of diesel particulate matter and 190,000 tons of nitrogen oxides. Diesel particulate matter has been identified by CARB as a toxic air contaminant, and nitrogen oxides contribute to regional ozone and particle levels that exceed state and federal air quality standards.

CARB said that emissions from goods movement result in significant human health risks and adverse environmental effects, particularly when such sources operate near already heavily affected communities located in the state’s trade corridors.

Goods-movement pollution contributed to 2,400 premature deaths in California in 2005, CARB said.