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Million Dollar EPA Grant Powers Green Locomotive in Upstate New York

Release Date: 06/30/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (732) 672-5520 or (212) 637-3664,

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today unveiled upstate New York’s first ultra-low emission locomotive at a railroad yard in Selkirk, N.Y. The cleaner energy locomotive was made possible by an EPA award of more than $1 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the New York State Department of Transportation. New York State DOT and the CSX Transportation used the funding to replace the old polluting conventional engine on the locomotive with three smaller, cleaner engines. Locomotives are a source of pollutants in the outdoor air, including asthma triggers such as fine particles (soot) and ozone (smog). The new engines will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter from the locomotive by 80 percent using technologies that monitor engine idling and switch to “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity.

“Trains produce diesel pollution that is linked to asthma, decreased lung function, and heart attacks,” said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Using ARRA dollars, EPA was able to help CSX replace an old polluting train engine with cleaner and more efficient replacement engines, which helped preserve 12 jobs. This ARRA money has resulted in cleaner air for residents and workers in the Capital District.”

“Projects like this will literally help re-power the Empire State. This new locomotive — with three smaller engines that cycle on-and-off according to need — will reduce emissions and save diesel fuel as goods are moved efficiently across the state. This innovative technology is an example of Governor Cuomo’s goal of creating a new green economy with livable communities, new jobs and sustainable growth,” said New York State DOT Executive Deputy Commissioner Stanley Gee.

Locomotive engines have traditionally been significant contributors to air pollution. EPA has set new standards that will cut fine particle pollution from these and other heavy duty engines by 90 percent and smog-forming nitrogen oxides by 80 percent. EPA estimates that the health benefits of this rule outweigh the costs by 15 to 1. Locomotive engines being produced today must meet new emission requirements set by EPA. However, because locomotive engines are very durable and are often in service for many decades, they continue to emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Projects to replace these older polluting engines with cleaner ones are a key part of EPA’s national strategy to cut diesel pollution. The total project cost was $1,450,000. EPA provided about $1 million of the funding, with the remainder being provided by CSX, the owner of the locomotive.

When ozone levels increase, most commonly in the summer months, they affect people’s health, especially people with asthma. Ozone can irritate the respiratory system, causing coughing, throat irritation, and aggravating asthma. When ozone levels are high, more people with asthma have attacks that require a doctor’s attention or use of medication. Ozone makes people more sensitive to allergens such as pets, pollen, and dust mites, which are common triggers of asthma attacks and lead to increased hospital admissions and emergency room visits. Fine particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and pose serious health risks, including aggravating the symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems in healthy individuals.

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