As part of the 2008-2009 State budget, Ohio set aside $19.8 million to be used for diesel grants to achieve reductions in air pollution from the transportation sector. The set aside represents the largest dedicated pool of funds to diesel emission reductions in the Midwest. The grants could be used to pay for pollution control retrofits and anti-idling technology for diesel engines in public and private fleets across the state.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) is charged with implementing the program. In February 2008 it solicited its first applications. However, there was a lack of guidance to applicants in the rush to get the program up and running. As a result, those who still submitted applications did so without knowing whether their application would be deemed sufficient.
Awards were scheduled to be made in early Spring with a second round of applications to follow in late Spring. Unfortunately, the Federal Highway Administration has raised concerns with the details of the Ohio program that has stopped the program in its tracks. No announcement has been made regarding the first round of applications and now the second grant round in fiscal year 2008 has been shelved according to ODOD’s website.
Last year I wrote an op-ed piece in Crain’s Cleveland Business that made the strong case for reducing emissions from the transportation sector.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t include a graphic with my article because I think this chart prepared by Ohio EPA sums it all up (click on the chart to see a larger version). The majority of the pollution causing our ozone problems in Northeast Ohio are from the transportation sector, not area businesses. With Ohio’s economy hurting, achieving greater reductions from the transportation community is essential to reducing costs for Ohio businesses and allowing them to compete. Hopefully, the impediments that have stalled this program can quickly be removed as it has become apparent Ohio will likely have one year to spend the $19.8 million.