Municipalities, businesses, and nonprofit agencies have a potential source of financial help available to replace older diesel engine equipment with clean energy technologies and pay for electric vehicle charging stations.
The Driving PA Forward program launched in 2018 with the goal of permanently reducing nitrogen oxide air pollution in Pennsylvania by as much as 27,700 tons by supporting cleaner fuel transportation projects. It is funded with the state’s $118.5 million settlement with Volkswagen over cheating on emissions tests. Driving PA Forward includes eight programs that fund a range of clean transportation projects to improve air quality and help slow climate change.
The Driving PA Forward program will drive “the transition towards advanced zero-emission and low-emission vehicles and accelerating the build-out of infrastructure necessary to support the next generation of transportation options,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in announcing the program.
The transportation sector accounts for over 55% of total oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions in the United States. When NOx and volatile organic compounds combine in the presence of sunlight, ground-level ozone is formed. Emissions of NOx can also act as precursors to the formation of fine particulate matter. Both ozone and particulates pose significant risks to the health of the public and the environment.
Breathing ozone can create a variety of health problems, especially for children, the elderly, and others with lung diseases such as asthma. Air containing ozone also affects people who are active outdoors, particularly those that work outside. Ozone also contributes to climate change.
There are eight grant and rebate programs operating for a five-year period. Included are: truck and bus fleet grants; on-road truck and bus rebates; clean diesel grants; electric vehicle fast-charging station and hydrogen fueling grants; level 2 EV charging station grants; cargo handling equipment grants; and rail and marine grants.
Applications are now open for several of the programs, including the truck and bus fleet grants and on-road truck and bus rebates.
Truck and bus fleet grant applications are due Oct. 9 and are open for projects that will replace or retrofit six or more diesel-powered trucks, buses and shuttle buses with clean fuels, including electric, natural gas, propane, or other alternatives. On-road rebate applications, which are for five or fewer trucks or buses, are due Nov. 12.