On May 26th, the Ohio Department of Development announced the recipients of the second round of the Diesel Emission Reduction Grant (DERG) program.  The announcement once again highlights issues with implementation of this grant program. 

After two grant rounds, school buses, transit and rail received the lion share of the total $19.8 million in available funding under this program.  There are issues with this allocation:

  • School buses already have available funding through Ohio EPA Clean Diesel School Bus Fund
  • Transit has received $203 million in stimulus money
  • Rail projects are very costly- the project funded in the two DERG rounds took up nearly 1/2 of the available funding

In concept, the DERG program selects projects based upon cost effectiveness.  This should mean money is directed toward projects that will result in the biggest reductions at the lowest cost. According to U.S. EPA data, the transit sector in Ohio accounts for only 2% of diesel emissions. Other sectors eligible under DERG, such as construction equipment and heavy duty trucks, account for nearly 50% of the diesel emissions.

Yet after two DERG rounds, only 8 pieces of construction equipment and/or heavy duty trucks will be repowered/replaced/retrofitted. 

While I can quibble with how successful DERG has been at targeting sectors for reductions, it is still is a very good program that has resulted in substantial reductions. As detailed in previous posts, DERG is also good for Ohio’s economy by promoting voluntary emission reductions that reduces air pollution costs for businesses.   Unfortunately, the Transportation Bill (H.B. 2) cut DERG’s funding by 80% (see discussion at the end of this post).

Let’s hope the State Legislature doesn’t give up on a very worthwhile program.

From’ the ODOD DERG press release here is the list of recipients in the second round:

City of Dublin, in partnership with City of Westerville – Replacing eight model year
1999/2000 short haul diesel trucks.
Columbus City Schools – Replacing 15 model year 1990 school buses with new school buses.
CSX Transportation, Inc. – Repowering four Switcher Locomotives with GENSET diesel
Great Lakes Construction – Repowering two model year 1987/1988 track type bulldozers.
Industrial Railway Switching & Services – Retrofitting three switcher locomotives with the
private vendor’s "Lean and Green Locomotive Package" technology to reduce overall vehicle
John R. Jurgensen – Replacing two track type bulldozers and four hydraulic excavators with
new vehicles.
Kenston Local School District – Replacing one model year 1998 school bus with a new plugin
hybrid school bus.
Manchester Local School District – Replacing one model year 1991 school bus with a new
plug-in hybrid school bus.
Osnaburg Local Schools, in partnership with Massillon Local Schools and North Canton
Local Schools – Retrofitting six school buses with DPF/CCFS applications and replacing three
school buses with new model year buses.
Portage County Solid Waste Management District – Replacing one model year 1999 diesel
truck used for the collection of recyclables.
Ross Local School District – Replacing five model year 1988/1990/1991 school buses with
new buses.
Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority – Repowering 50 model year 2001/2002 public
transit buses.
Stark County Commissioners, in partnership with Stark County Board of Mental
Retardation and Developmental Disabilities – Replacing seven model year 1993/1995 school
buses with new model year buses.
Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority – Replacing an existing diesel generator set on port
facility gantry crane.
Wood County Commissioners, in partnership with Wood County Board of Mental
Retardation and Developmental Disabilities – Replacing five model year 1998/2001/2002
diesel powered school buses with new liquid propane- injected (LPI) engines
Wood County Engineer’s Office – Replacing two model year 1990/1996 diesel powered dump
trucks with new trucks

Update on DERG Funding

In the last State budget, Ohio set aside $20 million over two years from federal transportation dollars known as Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) program.  Federal legislation made clear that diesel emission reduction projects were not only acceptable they should be a priority.

After the last budget, Ohio had the largest dedicated diesel fund in the entire Midwest.  Ohio received awards for the DERG program.  The Ohio Diesel Coalition sought to renew the DERG program for another two years at the same level of funding.  Ultimately. H.B. 2 included only $5 million in funding for DERG over the next two fiscal years.  This is a $15 million dollar reduction from the past two years. 

Meanwhile, $15 million has been set aside for public transportation, which has already received, according to the Plain Dealer, nearly $203 million in stimulus funding. 

While DERG has had its issues starting up, most new government programs do.  There certainly is enough demand for the program.  Unfortunately, DERG funding has been reduced by 80%.  This reduction comes at a time when only a few small scale construction equipment projects have received funding.  Ohio has not even scratched the surface of possible reductions from this sector, by far the largest source of diesel emissions.  Now is not the time to be reducing funding for this program.

(Photo: terinea/everystockphoto.com)