Reducing Diesel Exhaust
What Vermont is Doing:
Reducing public exposure to emissions from diesel-powered engines and equipment is one of the greatest air quality challenges facing the country. Even with more stringent engine standards in place for heavy-duty highway and nonroad vehicles and equipment, millions of diesel engines already in use will continue to emit large amounts of particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), air toxics and greenhouse gases, which contribute to serious risks to public health and the environment. Each year, diesel emissions are linked to thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, millions of lost work days, and numerous other health and environmental impacts.
Accordingly, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has developed the Vermont Clean Diesel Initiative to help improve air quality and protect public health. Please click on the links below for more information about the programs associated with the Vermont Clean Diesel Initiative.
School Bus Retrofit and Early Replacement
Sawmill Diesel Engine Repowering
Emergency Response Vehicle Idle Reduction Technology
Vermont Idle-Free Fleets
Current State Laws and Regulations
Diesel Grant Opportunities
Diesel Pollution and Health Effects
School Bus Retrofit and Early Replacement
It is well-documented that children are more vulnerable than healthy adults to the effects of diesel emissions, which can exacerbate long-term conditions such as asthma and cause respiratory disease, cancer and even premature death. Recent studies have found that diesel pollution can concentrate inside of school buses, leading to even higher exposures for children who ride buses. The US EPA has worked aggressively at the national level to reduce pollution from new diesel-powered school buses by requiring them to meet more stringent emission standards. As a result, new buses are up to 95 percent cleaner than yesterday's models. However, because of the high level of durability and relatively long life of heavy-duty diesel engines, it will take years for new cleaner buses to replace those in the existing fleet. This means that without additional effort, today's kindergartners will be in college before the benefits of today's standards are fully realized.
School Bus Retrofits
The primary goal of school bus retrofit efforts in Vermont has been to help reduce diesel emissions and children's exposure to diesel exhaust from school buses. With funding from EPA's Clean School Bus USA program, DEC provided technical and financial assistance to Vermont school districts statewide to retrofit over fifty school buses with a combination of diesel oxidation catalysts (DOCs), closed-crankcase ventilation (CCV) systems, and auxiliary fuel operated heaters (FOHs). The program was successful in reducing diesel school bus emissions and improving fleet fuel efficiency, and the effectiveness of these technologies was demonstrated to a broad audience of school bus administrators throughout the state.
School Bus Replacement
Currently, there are more than 1,800 diesel-powered school buses transporting over 75,000 school-age children on routes totaling approximately 13 million miles annually in Vermont. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists' "School Bus Pollution Report Card", the average school bus in Vermont is 10 years old and emits twice as much soot per mile as a diesel-powered tractor trailer. The report further stated, "Vermont needs funding for school bus replacement" and that "by replacing the oldest buses, we will make gains in reducing children's exposure to diesel exhaust, as well as provide considerable safety improvements."
Accordingly, Vermont DEC developed a grant program with funding from the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) to help upgrade the statewide public school bus fleet by accelerating the replacement and scrappage of older buses with new buses equipped with state-of-the-art emissions control systems and idle reduction technology. Enabling public school districts throughout the state to conduct early replacement and scrappage of older school buses with newer, cleaner buses will allow today's generation of school children to reap the benefits of currently-available technologies that reduce harmful diesel emissions.
"A teacher and a group of middle school students became very interested in the amount of time that the buses were idling in front of the school. They brought this to our attention and kept after us until we responded [by adopting a policy to limit idling]. It was a great lesson in advocacy and involvement and change. It was great to have a teacher and students take the lead!"
"[In addition to adopting policy,] it is a source of pride that CESU has researched the technology and taken advantage of options to improve our fleet of buses."
Patricia Connelly, Grants Coordinator, Chittenden East Supervisory Union
Participant, Vermont Breathe Better Campaign
Grantee, Clean Bus USA and DERA program
Sawmill Diesel Engine Repowering
The Department of Environmental Conservation's Air Quality & Climate Division (AQCD), with assistance from the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation (FPR), completed a demonstration project involving sawmill operations that utilize stationary diesel engines. The demonstration project involved providing financial and technical assistance to Vermont sawmills to repower equipment with lower-emitting stationary diesel engines and helped to evaluate this sector as a potential target for future efforts to reduce diesel emissions.
Three sawmills applied to replace a total of four diesel powered generators, and each was approved to receive a 50% cost-matching grant and technical assistance in repowering this equipment with lower-emitting diesel engines that has resulted in emissions reductions of up to 80%. This project involved the removal and scrapping of existing diesel powered generators, and their replacement with new ones certified to a more stringent set of emissions standards. AQCD also provided technical assistance to sawmill owners throughout the process of selecting, developing specifications for, purchasing, and installing new generators as well as disposing of existing ones.
Through this project, exposure to harmful contaminants in diesel exhaust has been reduced and the public health, environmental and cost benefits of these technologies has been demonstrated to a broader audience throughout Vermont. Reducing public exposure to emissions from diesel-powered engines is a significant air quality challenge. Even with more stringent engine standards in effect for new heavy-duty highway and non-road equipment, millions of diesel engines already in use will continue to emit large amounts of particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, air toxics and greenhouse gases, which contribute to serious risks to public health and the environment. Diesel emissions are linked to premature deaths, asthma attacks, lost work days, and numerous other health and environmental impacts.
"[With the funding provided by Vermont AQCD,], we replaced two old units and found the new generators, although slightly smaller in size, presented more horsepower. We have cut diesel fuel useage, conservatively, by 1,000 gallons a year. There is no smoke even when we run a heavy load. We probably couldn't have taken advantage of all of [this technology] without the grant, and we have been able to upgrade our electrical system with the money we have saved."
Mark Goodridge, Co-Owner, Goodridge Lumber Company, Albany, Vermont
Emergency Response Vehicle Idling Reduction Technology
Ambulances require energy to maintain onboard power equipment, charge batteries, and provide a proper temperature environment for life saving medicines, patient transport and personnel operations. To provide this energy, ambulances often idle their engines for extended periods of time after delivery of patients to hospital emergency departments. The exhaust fumes from idling ambulances can infiltrate hospital emergency rooms, thereby exposing patients, staff and visitors to toxic and carcinogenic air contaminants.
Currently available technology provides a clean and efficient way to meet these energy needs without running the ambulance's engine by allowing ambulances to plug directly into the electric grid, and supplying heated and cooled air to ambulance interior compartments.
"Ambulance companies save diesel fuel and reduce wear and tear on the ambulances' engines. For our patients, staff and the community, it means healthier air. With fewer emissions from tailpipes, the air quality in and around the hospital entryways is improved."
Rob Prohaska, Director, Plant Services, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital
Link to media coverage
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), through its Clean Diesel Grant Program, will provide funding and technical support to install idle-reduction technology to eliminate the need for emergency-response vehicle idling at a hospital.
For more information, contact David Love of the Vermont Department of Environmental
Conservation at (802)272-3236, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Vermont Idle-Free Fleets
Is your community or business considering ways to save money, help the environment and improve the air we breath? The American Lung Association provides information, model policies and signage to help you to adopt a vehicle idling reduction policy. For more information, contact the Lung Association in Williston at 802-876-6860, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lungne.org.
"In an effort to do our part in keeping Vermont green, Koffee Kup Bakery has adopted a policy to eliminate unnecessary vehicle idling. With the information provided to us from the American Lung Association, we are now more able to assist in improving the environment, while reducing both fuel cost and wear and tear. This was an easy decision for us."
Brian Carpentier, Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Koffee Kup Bakery
Current State Laws and Regulations
Vermont has several laws to reduce emissions from gas and diesel vehicles. They are:
. School Bus Idling Rule on School Property. School buses shall not idle while picking up and dropping off children on school property. For details, click on School Bus Idling Rule
. Unattended Motor Vehicle Law. This law was passed in 1973 to discourage vehicle theft, but also requires drivers to turn off their engine when parking while vehicle is not occupied. For more information, click on Unattended Motor Vehicles Law
. Smoky Truck Law. A commercial vehicle may be stopped and an inspection performed if it appears vehicle exhaust exceeds standard. For more information, click on Smoky Truck Law
. Burlington's Idling Ordinance. With few exceptions, no person shall leave a vehicle idling for more than three minutes. For more information, click on Burlington's Idling Ordinance
.Motor Vehicle Idling Law. Act 57 was signed into law in May 2013 and includes a provision that, effective May 1, 2014, will limit all motor vehicle idling to five minutes in any 60 minute period with some exceptions. For more information, click on Motor Vehicle Idling Law
Diesel Grant Opportunities:
Emergency Vehicle Idle Reduction Technology
The extended idling of ambulances creates health threatening emissions, wastes fuel, and contributes to air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with climate change. The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) has investigated situations where noxious diesel exhaust from idling ambulances has infiltrated hospital buildings causing complaints and concerns for adverse health effects.
APCD, through its Clean Diesel Grant Program, has a limited amount of grant funding available to hospitals for the installation of idle-reduction technology. This equipment reduces the need for ambulance engine idling, thus improving air quality on the hospital campus while also reducing fuel consumption and wear and tear on ambulance engines.
The grant covers the capital cost of the equipment and its installation. Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and Porter Medical Center in Middlebury have installed the technology. Click here ER Vehicle Fact Sheet
To learn more about the grant opportunity, idle reduction technology, or to arrange a visit to the demonstration site to see the equipment in operation, please contact David Love of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation at (802)272-3236, or via e-mail at email@example.com
A grant of $32,000 was awarded to Rutland Regional Medical Center in July, 2013 for installation of emergency vehicle idle reduction technology. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Locomotive Idle Reduction Technology
A grant of $67,500 was awarded to Vermont Railway, Inc. in July, 2013 for installation of locomotive idle reduction technology. This project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
School Bus Replacement Program
Click here for more information
Diesel Pollution and Health Effects:
Diesel Pollution and Health Effects: According to a report issued in 2012 by the World Health Organization's International Agency on Research for Cancer, diesel exhaust causes cancer in humans. Dozens of studies link airborne particulate matter, such as those from diesel exhaust, to increased hospitalizations due to asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease and pneumonia. For more information, click on the links below:
Diesel Exhaust and Human Health
Diesel Idling Reduction: Economic, Health and Environmental Benefits