Every day in New Bedford, Massachusetts, hundreds of vessels can be seen moving in and out of their berths in the city’s harbor. This marine traffic is an important part of New England’s history and economy.
However, many larger marine vessels are equipped with diesel engines that last 30 years or more and don’t keep pace with new technologies that can reduce air pollution. One way to address this issue is to replace these old, inefficient diesel engines with new ones that meet current emissions standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But these new engines are expensive to buy and retrofit, leaving them financially out of reach for many companies.
Creative Funding Solutions to Cut Emissions
As a result of CLF’s longtime relationship with EPA’s Northeast regional office, we have forged partnerships with maritime companies to leverage a creative funding solution: EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). This act authorizes EPA to provide grants and loans for projects that reduce emissions from existing diesel engines.
In 2018, CLF was awarded a DERA grant to partner with a local New Bedford company, 41° North, to pay for three new engines on their tugboat, the Kodiak. The total cost to replace these engines for just one tugboat like the Kodiak is more than $1 million.
Through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, EPA is providing around half of the total engine replacement cost, while 41° North will cover the remainder. This public-private partnership or “cost-sharing” approach makes replacing inefficient engines an affordable undertaking for the company.
Cleaner Engines Mean Better Air Quality, Better Health
Swapping out the engines will help the tugboat run more efficiently, provide an economic boost to the boat’s owners, and improve air quality for New Bedford residents. Altogether, this helps the boat owners stay competitive in an industry with thin business margins.
This is CLF’s sixth DERA grant since 2011, with each grant retrofitting a boat. This private-public partnership adds to our track record of finding creative, market-based solutions to address environmental concerns. By lowering the levels of air pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, these grants have contributed to reducing serious health conditions including asthma and respiratory illnesses. EPA estimates that the Kodiak project alone could prevent approximately $270,000 in health care-related costs caused by air pollution from diesel engines. That’s the equivalent of taking six diesel trucks off the road.
Public-Private Partnerships a Win-Win for Economy and Environment
CLF partners with community organizations, public and philanthropic agencies, and private investors to better understand environmental challenges and create new solutions to them. Partnerships such as retrofitting old, inefficient marine engines provides financing for a solution that would not be possible otherwise. It’s a winning combination for the environment as well as the economy.
Our EPA-funded projects reflect our long-time commitment to cut climate-damaging emissions and boost clean energy, air, and water in coastal communities in New England. Through creative funding partnerships such as this one, we’ll continue working to make New England environmentally and economically healthy.