New Jersey voters OK funding for diesel retrofits

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New Jersey voters have passed a measure to fund a new diesel emissions reduction program by reallocating revenue from the state’s corporate business tax.

Fifty-four percent of voters on Nov. 8 favored Ballot Question No. 2, which provides $160 million over 10 years to retrofit more than 30,000 state buses and trucks. The vote also includes assurance of support funding for New Jersey’s anti-idling enforcement program. The entire plan is expected to reduce diesel soot emissions by roughly 10 percent over the next decade, or an annual 400 tons of air pollution.

The move was supported by environmentalists and the Diesel Technology Forum, whose members include vehicle and engine manufacturers, key component suppliers, petroleum refineries and producers of emissions-control devices. “Diesel retrofits are the most cost-effective clean air strategy,” says Allen Schaeffer, forum executive director. Texas used an existing vehicle registration surcharge to fund a diesel retrofit program for private and public diesel engines, he says.

California has the Carl Moyer Memorial Air Quality Standards Attainment Program, which uses incentives to retrofit older diesel-powered vehicles and equipment. In 2004, the state approved $61 million in annual permanent funding and up to $80 million annually for the next 10 years for this approach.

On a federal level, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005 in August, which includes the Diesel Emissions Reduction program. That authorizes an annual $200 million for 2007-11 for diesel retrofit grant and loan programs.