This the first post in a five-part series about diesel emissions reduction in the Kansas City area. Follow along for more information about how schools, railroads and private-sector companies are working to make Kansas City’s air cleaner.
Over the last five to 10 years, school districts, local governments, utilities, railroads and private businesses have aggressively implemented programs to reduce air pollution in the Kansas City Area. Many have adopted policies to reduce idling and have experimented with alternative fuels that burn cleaner.
While the future may lie in alternative fuels, most heavy transportation fleets are deeply invested in diesel-powered vehicles due to their history of durability, dependability and power. Unlike a gasoline-powered vehicle, a diesel bus, heavy truck or piece of construction equipment can be expected to operate for 16 to 20 years. Locomotives built 45 years ago still regularly run the rails. As new technologies or alternative fuels are phased in, existing diesel vehicles are generally not required to upgrade their emissions controls.
Funding assistance for these retrofit projects comes largely from programs managed by a variety of federal agencies. These funds are often administered directly by the state, local government or a nonprofit associated with transportation and clean energy. Many retrofit projects have taken place throughout the Kansas City region, and the Mid-America Regional Council has been privileged to coordinate a number of these efforts through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Buses USA and National Clean Diesel Campaign and U.S. Department of Transportation’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality programs.
While eligibility varies by program, these funds provide great opportunities for air-quality-conscious stakeholders to retire older, “dirtier” vehicles earlier in the replacement cycle or pay for after-market retrofits that can reduce emissions and, in some cases, improve fuel economy. In the Kansas City area, the most common diesel retrofits have been Diesel Oxidation Catalysts (DOCs), which decrease diesel emissions by 20–30 percent, often for less than $2,000 per vehicle.
To learn more about these programs contact the MARC Air Quality program, firstname.lastname@example.org.