Baker-Polito Administration Awards $7.5 Million in Grants to Further Electrify Transportation Sector and Reduce Air Pollution
The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $7.5 million in grants for 98 projects that will help to electrify the transportation sector and reduce air pollution. The projects are part of the Massachusetts Volkswagen (VW) Open Solicitation initiative that seeks to address air pollution that resulted from VW’s illegal tampering of vehicle emission control equipment. With these awards, the Commonwealth will help fund the purchase of electric vehicles, diesel-hybrid electric waste collection trucks, liquid-propane-gas school buses, cleaner-diesel trucks and ferry engines, and a marine shore-power installation. The funding announced today is a portion of the Commonwealth’s $75 million allotment under the Volkswagen (VW) emissions case settlement.
“Massachusetts is using its allocation from the VW settlement to aggressively expand clean-running electric vehicles into our communities, across the transportation sector,” said Governor Charles Baker. “Through this grant program, many of the underserved populations in our state will now be able to enjoy the clean air benefits of electric vehicles.”
“Our administration is proud to advance the electrification of the Commonwealth’s transportation sector and invest in our communities to improve the quality of life for all our residents,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “With these VW grants and other innovative programs, Massachusetts continues to be a national leader in the support of alternative vehicle technologies.”
“We held Volkswagen accountable for deceiving Massachusetts consumers who bought their dirty cars that polluted our air, and then lying to regulators about their misconduct,” said Attorney General Maura Healey. “This grant program will help reduce unhealthy air pollution and bring more zero emission vehicles and other cleaner transportation equipment into communities across our state.”
The funding awarded will be used on projects to place 32 heavy-duty vehicles, eight medium-duty vehicles, 17 buses, two marine engines, 35 pieces of airport ground-support equipment and three pieces of cargo-handling equipment into operation and install one new marine shore-power site. This new equipment will replace pre-2010 diesel counterparts, and grant recipients are required to scrap the replaced diesel vehicles and equipment. Seventy-six percent of the funding is in Environmental Justice areas where there are high populations of minority, low-income, or low English proficiency residents.
“Massachusetts continues to be a leader in the effort to reduce harmful emissions from diesel trucks, buses and other engines,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “With these grants, communities will be able to deliver municipal services in a more environmentally friendly way and private companies will help spread the advancement of modern clean-vehicle technology.”
“Massachusetts continues to transform the state’s transportation system from a diesel-based sector to an electric one and, in doing so, is helping Massachusetts attain the aggressive emissions reduction goals set under the Global Warming Solutions Act,” said Martin Suuberg, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), the agency responsible for distributing the grants.
As a result of the grants awarded, MassDEP estimates a reduction of 12.76 short tons per year of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 2,742 short tons per year of carbon dioxide. NOx contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter pollution, both of which are linked to short- and long-term respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. One of the primary components of NOx – nitrogen dioxide – also aggravates respiratory diseases, particularly asthma, and may contribute to childhood asthma development. Environmentally, NOx emissions contribute to global warming, acid rain formation, and detrimental nutrient overloading in waterways.
Communities/projects receiving funding include:
Amherst: One tri-axle diesel truck, serving Amherst ($140,437);
Beverly: One electric school bus owned by Highland Electric Transportation, Inc., serving the City of Beverly ($287,936);
Boston: Six liquid-petroleum-gas (LPG) school buses for the Boston Public Schools ($416,963);
Cambridge: Three plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) waste collection trucks, serving Cambridge ($500,000);
Concord: One electric school bus owned by the Town of Concord ($295,005);
East Boston: One box truck owned by the Massachusetts Trial Court, based in East Boston ($50,315);
Falmouth: Two electric shuttle buses serving the Steamship Authority in Falmouth ($250,000 each);
Falmouth/New Bedford: Two diesel marine engines in New Bedford and Falmouth ($194,659);
Harvard University (Allston/Cambridge): Four electric transit buses ($125,000 each) owned by Harvard University Transportation Services, operating in Allston and Cambridge and serving students and non-students;
Lowell: One electric shuttle bus, owned by the City of Lowell ($197,504);
Martha’s Vineyard: Two electric school buses owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School District ($250,000 each), which serves the Island’s six communities of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and Vineyard Haven;
Quincy/Revere: Seven diesel refuse trucks in Quincy and Revere ($75,869);
Central MA: One electric truck operated by J&S Solutions, serving Central Massachusetts ($130,500);
Central/Western MA: Five diesel short-haul trucks operated by Estes Express Lines and UPS in Central and Western Massachusetts ($111,412); and
Statewide: Twenty-two diesel dump trucks in Environmental Justice communities from West Springfield to East Boston ($2,777,720).
In addition, many airport ground-support and cargo-handling equipment at Logan International Airport in Boston will be replaced with electric versions, including 31 units owned by JetBlue Airways ($440,930 in total) and seven owned by United Airlines ($280,745). The Commonwealth is also supporting the adoption of electric shore-power for marine engines at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay with a grant for $100,000. The full list of grant recipients can be found here.
“I want to congratulate J&S Solutions in Franklin on its award, which stems from a successful multi-million settlement against Volkswagen for misleading the people of Massachusetts about their vehicles’ emissions,” said Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “We must do everything we can to tackle the devastating effects of climate change and reduce the harmful effects of fossil fuels, so I am pleased the grant money will be going toward purchasing an all-electric truck. This is a positive step towards achieving mitigation for the effects of climate change for our residents.”
“I am excited that Grafton has been awarded a grant through the VW Settlement grant program,” said State Representative David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton). “I am confident that the town will continue to make positive strives towards a clean energy environment, which this new vehicle will certainly address. I also want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration, along with the Department of Environmental Protection for their continuous effort in combatting climate change.”
“A major step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions is converting a wide range of our fleet to electric vehicles,” said State Senator Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop). “These grants afford an opportunity to prepare for a more sustainable future.”
The awarding of $7.5 million in grants is part of the first cycle of Massachusetts’ plan to spend its $75 million share of the $2.9 billion settlement between VW and the United States Department of Justice for VW’s skirting of federal vehicle emissions standards for NOx. In addition to today’s funding, the Commonwealth is using the VW settlement to provide $11 million to support the purchase of eight new electric transit buses by the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) and five new buses by the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authorities, as well as $5 million for the purchase and installation of light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to supplement the network of existing EVSE.
Continuing the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to electric vehicle deployment, an amendment to the Massachusetts Volkswagen Settlement Beneficiary Mitigation Plan (BMP) has been finalized by MassDEP. The plan commits the Commonwealth to designating all the allowed 15 percent of the VW funding to EV charging infrastructure, totaling approximately $11.25 million.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.
Written By: Klark Jessen, MassDOT Blog