By Lisa Burr
The inversion season is upon us. It’s the time when we notice and curse the pollution that fills our cold, wintery skies. As if the cold isn’t bad enough, we have to breathe the dirty air, sometimes so bad we can taste it. The public relies on the Department of Environmental Quality for solutions to the air quality challenges we face. One of the solutions DEQ uses is the CARROT (Clean Air Retrofit, Replacement, and Off-Road Technology) Program.
The CARROT Program was enacted in 2014 by the state legislature to encourage individuals, businesses, local governments, and school districts to reduce emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines and non-road equipment. Last year, DEQ awarded a combination of $100,000 in grants to five entities for retrofitting or replacing heavy-duty equipment.The results were 17 tons of annual emissions reductions.
In addition, the Lawn Mower Discount and Exchange Program was held last spring to provide incentives for individuals to purchase electric lawnmowers at a discounted price with an added incentive for those who exchanged a gasoline lawnmower for an electric mower. The event was an overwhelming success, with online reservations for mowers closing after only a few hours. There were 388 individuals who participated, resulting in a minimum 3.58 tons of annual emissions reductions.
This year, DEQ is dividing the CARROT Program into three segments:
- A grant program for heavy-duty diesel equipment
- A school bus replacement program
- A discount and exchange program for landscape equipment
The grant funding focuses on heavy-duty diesel fleets such as long-haul or delivery trucks, refuse haulers, equipment used for operation in construction, agriculture, energy production, rail, or ground-support equipment at airports, just to name a few.
The school bus replacement program dedicates $300,000 for diesel school bus replacements to provide school districts with funding to replace old, heavy-polluting school buses with new buses that meet the cleanest emissions standards.
State funding for school districts to purchase new buses was cut in 2010. It has been a challenge since then for the school districts, which have had to rely on local funding for their transportation needs without assistance from the state. As a result, polluting buses continue to operate in our communities, exposing schoolchildren to elevated concentrations of unhealthy diesel exhaust that enters the passenger area of the bus. This funding will target older buses for replacement to ensure that the most polluting buses are replaced first.
An additional $687,144 was awarded to DEQ through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Clean Diesel Campaign to replace diesel school buses along the Wasatch Front.
The discount and exchange program for landscape equipment will occur in Spring 2016. We will post additional information on the specifics of the exchange at a later date.
Applications for heavy-duty diesel fleets and school buses must be submitted to DEQ by 11:59 p.m. on December 17, 2015. Application details are available at on our website. The funding awards will be announced January 25, 2016.
I have worked for the Division of Air Quality for six years. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree from Weber State University and was employed there for 13 years before coming to DAQ. I enjoy cooking, entertaining, camping, and traveling.