Seattle -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing over $925,000 in grant funds for tribes in Washington to remove older marine diesel engines that emit harmful air pollutants and replace them with newer engines for more efficient marine vessels. All the grant funds will go to the North Puget Sound tribal communities of the Upper Skagit Tribe, the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, and the Lummi Nation.
“Puget Sound tribal communities depend on fishing, and this funding for cleaner marine engines results in tribal fleets that are better for the air and for the health of tribal communities,” said Dennis McLerran, Regional Administrator for EPA Region 10. “Funding through the Diesel Emission Reduction Act provides an important opportunity to leverage public and tribal funds for cleaner marine vessels.”
The grants, which are implemented with additional sources of leveraged funding, will support the following tribal projects:
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is receiving $792,000 to reduce diesel pollution from the Swinomish Fishing Fleet. The project will replace twelve older and more polluting marine diesel engines with new, low-emission diesel engines. The project is expected to improve the air quality for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community. The proposed project will also achieve emissions reduction from vessels using the shore power pedestals at the fisherman’s docks by allowing engines to be shut down while loading and unloading.
The Lummi Nation is receiving $77,250 to reduce diesel pollution from two marine fishing fleet vessels that are used to harvest salmon, halibut, crab, and shrimp. The Lummi Reservation is located in Whatcom County and is ranked among the 80th percentile of the worst counties in the United States for the number of people living in areas where cancer risk from HAPs (Hazardous Air Pollutants) exceeds 1 in 10,000, for which diesel emissions is a high contributing factor. The average year of diesel engines in the Lummi fishing fleet is 1992. Older engines have poor performance, low fuel-efficiency, and high emissions. Repowering marine vessels is one of the most efficient and cost-effective techniques for cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Upper Skagit Tribe
The Upper Skagit Tribe is receiving $55,890 to fund a marine engine repower project. The project will repower the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe’s Fisheries Regulatory Compliance vessel by replacing an older, more polluting engine, with a newer, more efficient marine diesel engine meeting. Waterways immediately adjacent to the Skagit/Samish watersheds experience a disproportionate amount of air pollution from diesel fleets. This project will reduce emissions from the compliance vessel, which will be used in the ports around Skagit, Island and Whatcom counties.
Older diesel engines emit significant amounts of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOX) and particulate matter (PM). These pollutants are linked to a range of serious health problems including asthma, lung and heart disease, other respiratory ailments, and even premature death. Diesel engines also emit black carbon which has been linked to climate change. New diesel and alternative fuel technology can reduce diesel pollution by more than 90 percent.
Since the start of the DERA program in 2008, EPA has awarded over 700 grants across the US in 600 communities. Many of these projects fund cleaner diesel engines that operate in economically disadvantaged communities whose residents suffer from higher-than-average instances of asthma, heart, and lung disease. The DERA program is set to expire in 2016.
For more information about the West Coast Collaborative and EPA region 9 and 10 projects, visit www.westcoastcollaborative.org. For more information about the projects awarded nationally, visit www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/prgnational.htm.