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EPA Awards Over $165,000 in Grants to Massport, City of Cambridge and MIT to Reduce Pollution from Diesel Vehicles

Release Date: 02/23/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

David Deegan, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: February 23, 2005; Release # srdd050201

BOSTON - To help reduce pollution from diesel vehicles used in and around Boston and Cambridge, the United States Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is awarding grants to Massport and the City of Cambridge, in collaboration with MIT, for $82,800 and $83,467, respectively, to significantly reduce pollution from over 65 diesel vehicles.

"These projects will help bring cleaner air to the communities of South Boston and Cambridge and will go a long way toward addressing asthma and other respiratory-related problems -- making the black puff of smoke that comes from diesel engines a thing of the past.," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "I am pleased to announce that Massport and Cambridge will both receive funding to retrofit diesel equipment with advanced pollution controls since diesel exhaust is known to be one of the most significant sources of urban air pollution."

The grants are part of EPA's Clean Diesel Campaign which consists of both regulatory and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions from new and existing diesel engines by 2014. An important component of the campaign aims to promote voluntary emissions reductions of existing fleet through retrofits, cleaner fuels, replacement, reduced idling and other pollution-cutting measures. As part of a 2004 clean diesel retrofit grant competition, EPA received 83 applications from across the country. Massport and the Cambridge-MIT collaborative are among the 18 projects selected for funding.

In May 2004, EPA made available $1.6 million in grant funds for diesel retrofit projects that benefit sensitive populations - children, the elderly, and the chronically ill - who are more susceptible to the effects of diesel exhaust. All six of the New England states have childhood asthma rates above 10 percent. In Massachusetts, lifetime asthma rates in children are estimated to be 12.3 percent. Diesel exhaust contains small particles that can cause lung damage and aggravate conditions like asthma and bronchitis. EPA has determined that diesel exhaust is a likely human carcinogen, and can contribute to other acute and chronic health effects.

Massport's $82,800 grant will be used to install oxidation catalysts on a total of 36 land-based diesel vehicles including tractors and reach stackers used at the Conley Container Terminal and delivery trucks serving the terminal. Diesel oxidation catalysts reduce particulate matter emissions by at least 20 percent, hydrocarbon emissions by 50 percent, and carbon monoxide emissions by 40 percent. Massport is adding to its prior clean-air initiatives including its use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel - a step that will enhance the effectiveness of the new retrofits by further reducing emissions.

"You often hear that successful companies are those that do more with less," said Craig P. Coy, Massport CEO. "Well, successful, environmentally responsible companies are also those that do more to use less. Thanks to this grant program and the vehicles it will help retrofit, the EPA is helping Massport achieve our goal of enhancing economic opportunity in a way that protects clean air and preserves our natural resources."

The City of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will receive $83,467 to retrofit 32 vehicles including garbage trucks, dump trucks, bobcats, backhoes, and front loaders. Cambridge and MIT will demonstrate the effectiveness of a variety of different retrofit technologies including oxidation catalysts, crankcase filters, and particulate matter filters. The project also calls for a switch to ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for some vehicles, biodiesel, and cetane enhancers.

"The City of Cambridge is very pleased to be able to follow up last year's adoption of biodiesel with this retrofit program, which is another important step in our efforts toward cleaner emissions and climate protection," stated Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy. "We are particularly pleased to be collaborating with MIT, and proud to have been recognized by EPA through their grant award."

"Partnering with the City of Cambridge in EPA's voluntary diesel retrofit program is one way that MIT is demonstrating its strong commitment to excellence in environmental stewardship," said Jamie Lewis Keith, MIT's Managing Director for Environmental Programs and Risk Management, and Senior Counsel. "This initiative offers an innovative approach to reducing air pollution while strengthening collaborative ties and demonstrating new technologies. MIT is extremely grateful to the EPA for selecting our joint proposal with the City."

These grants will add to the suite of activities underway in the Boston area to address pollution from diesel engines. Under the auspices of a growing coalition, called Greater Boston Breathes Better (GB3), numerous businesses, government agencies, and others are working collaboratively to find innovative ways to reduce pollution from transportation and construction.

The following is a list of sample pollution-reducing transportation initiatives already underway in Massachusetts:

    • MassHighway and the MBTA require retrofit requirements for off-road construction equipment in all new construction contracts, per an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP);
    • All of MBTA's diesel buses and MASCO shuttle buses in the Longwood Medical area are equipped with diesel particulate matter filters and are using ultra low sulfur diesel fuel, which is reducing pollution from each bus by 90 percent;
    • Boston and Medford school buses are currently using retrofit technology;
    • MA DEP is providing anti-idling information to school bus drivers to help reduce children's exposure to diesel exhaust.
More information about retrofit projects in New England is available at:

For more information about Greater Boston Breathes Better visit:

Related Information:
Town of Trumbull, CT Exit EPA
Diesel Retrofit Grants
and Clean Diesel
Campaign Announced