R.I. DEM receives $846K in federal grants to help state replace diesel engines in vehicles, boats

PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Environmental Management will receive $846,343 in grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to replace freight trucks and diesel-burning marine engines that move products and services across the state, RIDEM and Gov. Daniel J. McKee announced Tuesday.

The funding, which McKee and RIDEM said was secured by the department’s Office of Air Resources, will come through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act program. RIDEM and McKee said the program is a federal-state initiative run by both the USEPA and state environmental agencies that protect human health and improves air quality by reducing emissions produced by diesel engines.

RIDEM spokesperson Michael Healey told Providence Business News in an email the money will be used to replace diesel-powered school buses with electric buses, swapping out diesel engines for cleaner ones on multiple commercial fishing and other boats, as well as replacing dirty diesel engines for cleaner engines in on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

In a statement, RIDEM Director Terry Gray said climate change, along with human health and the environment, are all impacted by diesel engines. He also said disadvantaged communities are often “disproportionately impacted” by such pollution.

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“We have to continue to strategically target and reduce diesel emissions whenever and wherever we can – especially with the Act on Climate emissions mandates always on our minds,” Gray said. “For these reasons, Rhode Island is very grateful for this [Diesel Emission Reduction Act] grant from EPA.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.