Gov. Chris Christie today signed an Executive Order ordering the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a diesel emission retrofit pilot program for construction equipment. The ultimate goal, according to a press release, is improving air quality near urban construction sites, targeting diesel air pollution from major transportation construction projects.
“The cumulative effect of multiple sources of pollution, including diesel exhaust, is a major health impact in communities across the Garden State,” Christie said. “Exhaust from older diesel-powered vehicles and equipment is a source of these harmful pollutants especially in congested urban areas. With this Executive Order, we’re focused on reducing diesel emissions to help resolve this serious public health issue that disproportionately affects residents in these areas.”
The order keys in on fine particulate matter risks.
“It is well documented that exposure to such fine particulate matter, of which diesel exhaust is a significant contributor, has cardiovascular and respiratory effects, including cancer, premature death, and increased incidence of asthma, allergies, and other breathing disorders. It is imperative that we reduce those harmful emissions,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said in the release.
Executive Order No. 60 directs Martin and DOT Commissioner James Simpson to establish a pilot program that will retrofit 175 pieces of equipment within three years.
Upon completion of the pilot project in 2014, the DEP and DOT will conduct a stakeholders’ process to gather information to determine if the diesel retrofit project should continue and/or expand. A report and recommendation will be submitted to Christie, who will make the final decision.
Additionally, under the pilot project to be implemented by the DEP, non-road diesel construction equipment of more than 100 horsepower (such as bulldozers, graders and pavers) used in State-financed construction projects must meet stringent standards or must be retrofitted with devices to achieve at least an 85 percent reduction in particulate matter emissions. The first phase of the new diesel program will focus on DOT projects in urban areas to be selected later this year. Retrofits will be financed by $2.5 million in DEP grants from State and Federal air quality mitigation funds.
Non-road diesel construction equipment generates approximately one-third of the toxic mobile source diesel particulate matter emissions in New Jersey — more than any other mobile source sector including on-road vehicles, trains, or marine commercial vessels.
While there are four times as many on-road diesel vehicles as non-road equipment, the non-road equipment emits twice as much due to the fact that Federal emissions standards for non-road engines lag behind those for on-road engines.