NJDOT, DEP Announce $9.5 Million Grant Program to Improve Air Quality

Dec 13, 2017

A partnership between the N.J. Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection will fund three new air-quality enhancement projects targeting mobile sources of pollutants. The two agencies are working with regional transportation planning agencies to utilize $9.5 million in funding from the U.S. DOT to establish grant programs that will: install electric-vehicle charging stations across the state, provide electric power for trucks that require climate control during shipments, and provide cleaner state-of-the-art engines for New York Harbor ferries.

According to the DEP, the projects have passed the preliminary selection process, and are awaiting further review and approval before receiving the federal monies.

“These projects will reduce pollutants that contribute to the creation of ozone-smog, as well as particulates,” a DEP press release explains. “The cumulative effect of the projects could result in reducing particulates and the chemicals that contribute to the creation of smog by 167 tons annually, the equivalent of removing 45,000 cars and 1,300 tractor-trailers from the roads.”

The first project builds on the DEP’s It Pay$ to Plug In electric vehicle program, launched last year. This joint initiative with the N.J. Board of Public Utilities has awarded nearly $850,000 to fund 180 workplace electric-vehicle charging stations, and the additional funding could lead to up to 500 new charging stations.

The second project aims to reduce diesel emissions from trucks that need to keep refrigerated goods at the proper temperature while loading and unloading shipments. Trucks will be able to plug in and keep goods cool while reducing annual emissions of ozone precursors by 51 tons and particulates by 12 tons.

And the third project, the Marine Repower Program, would help decrease emissions from passenger ferries by proposing to fund additional marine vessel engine refits for the SeaStreak, Spirit Cruises and Truex lines. Due to the long life-expectancy of marine engines, the DEP expects this program could see significant long-term emission benefits as well as fuel savings for line operators.

Each project builds upon the state’s history of reducing emissions from mobile sources. “Particulates and chemicals in diesel emissions are linked to cancer and other health problems,” the DEP points out. “Ozone exacerbates chronic lung conditions, such as asthma, particularly in vulnerable populations such as the young and elderly.”

As DEP Commissioner Bob Martin noted, “Cars and light trucks account for about 30 percent of ozone-forming precursors in New Jersey’s air and ground-level ozone, known commonly as smog, which is our most persistent health-related air pollution problem. It is critical that we focus on reducing emissions from transportation to protect public health.”

“NJDOT uses the latest technology to keep traffic moving and reduce congestion on state highways, which helps improve air quality,”said  NJDOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer. “These grants promote the use of clean technology in cars, trucks and boats, which will continue New Jersey’s efforts to be a leader in both transportation and the environment.”

For more information on the air quality improvement programs, visit drivegreen.nj.gov and stopthesoot.org/sts-retrofits.htm. —J.K.-H.

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