Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision’s 10-year Effort Cuts Diesel Pollution

The Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), a nonprofit that works to improve the environment and economy in Detroit, has secured more than $6.5 million over 10 years through the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and its National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program to cut pollution from trucks operating in and around Detroit.
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SDEV workers with a low emission class-eight tractor-trailer truck
SDEV has used more than $6.5 million over 10 years to reduce truck pollution in and around Detroit. Pictured is the team with a low emission class-eight tractor-trailer truck that was replaced with grant funding through this initiative. // Photograph by Raquel Garcia

The Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision (SDEV), a nonprofit that works to improve the environment and economy in Detroit, has secured more than $6.5 million over 10 years through the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and its National Clean Diesel Funding Assistance Program to cut pollution from trucks operating in and around Detroit.

The nonprofit has worked with the program to coordinate projects on behalf of dozens of businesses and government agencies that spurred the replacement of diesel trucks and equipment.

“By directly avoiding continued diesel emissions through truck replacements, engine re-powers, and engine-idle reduction controls, our project partners are positive examples across the trucking and fleet sector of ways to reduce pollution from their operations,” says Maggie Striz Calnin, program director for the SDEV’s Healthy Air Program. “We’re hoping to grow this initiative over the next 10 years for even greater positive impact on air quality, given that there remains significant work to do to reduce mobile source emissions.”

Diesel emissions contribute to the overall air quality burden that has been linked to high rates of asthma and heart disease in the area. With the addition of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, heavy-duty truck traffic is estimated to increase as much as three times over present levels in an area currently out of compliance with regulatory limits of oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide.

“SDEV’s Clean Diesel Initiative began through a U.S. EPA Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) grant in 2007, which made possible a comprehensive listening project to identify community concerns, prioritize them, and begin to act,” says Raquel Garcia, board president of SDEV. “The availability of funding through U.S. EPA DERA became a target for SDEV to draw funding to address the community concern around diesel pollution.”

Since 2008, the act program has made funds available through a competitive application process. SDEV has drawn more than $7 million since 2009 to implement projects impacting air quality locally. All vehicles and equipment in these projects are updated or replaced to meet current emissions standards. On-road fleet partners include private short-haul fleets in the goods movement sector, including post mail haulers, city of Detroit dump trucks, and Forgotten Harvest’s trucks. Past projects have also included operations on the Detroit River.

“Over the last 10 years, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision and their project partners have used EPA clean diesel grants totaling over $6.5 million to reduce diesel emissions by more than 2,000 tons per year,” says Cathy Stepp, region 5 administrator for the EPA. “By reducing diesel emissions and investing in clean energy technology, we are helping to ensure a healthier environment and a stronger economy for future generations.”

U.S. EPA Region 5 also coordinates the Midwest Clean Diesel Initiative, a partnership among federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, and environmental groups. Partners such as SDEV come from all over the region, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

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