The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Thursday announced that scrap metal processor Metalico was awarded a nearly $500,000 grant to upgrade equipment: The money will be used to replace one older diesel material handler and one older diesel material loader with a new all-electric handler and a new clean-diesel loader at its facility on Neville Island.
The project annually will remove an estimated 5.25 tons of NOx, 52 tons of carbon monoxide, 596 pounds of PM2.5, 400 tons of CO2, and other pollutants from the air.
According to the release, the project annually will remove an estimated 5.25 tons of NOx, 52 tons of carbon monoxide, 596 pounds of PM2.5, 400 tons of CO2, and other pollutants from the air.
“This is such welcome news and we don’t know if it would have happened without the pressure our friends at Allegheny County Clean Air Now have applied over the past few years to Metalico top brass, as well as the Allegheny County Health Department,” GASP Executive Director Patrick Campbell said. “They have really gone to bat for residents who live and work near the facility, demanding that the company clean up its act and demanding regulators step up inspections and enforcement activity.”
“Hopefully the equipment upgrades will help assuage some of the air quality issues ACCAN has documented over the years and residents can finally get some relief from the seemingly ever-present emissions episodes at the scrap yard.”
The press release announcing the grant was part of a larger initiative launched by DEP called, “Electrifying Truck Fleets for Cleaner Air in Our Communities.” The $12.7 million Driving PA Forward initiative is expected to improve air quality by supporting local freight truck electrification. Projects serving environmental justice areas, high traffic density areas, and Act 47 financially distressed municipalities are a top priority for funding.
Grant funding is available to local governments, businesses, and nonprofits to replace at least five old diesel trucks with new all-electric versions. (For smaller fleets, an exception may be made to support three electric trucks.) Funding will cover local freight trucks, such as garbage, recycling, utility, and delivery trucks, as well as charging infrastructure and installation. Grantees will have two years to scrap their old diesel vehicles and get the new electric truck fleets on the road.
Why is this significant? Consider this: Fossil fuel-powered vehicles emit 50.2 percent of NOx in the air in Pennsylvania, according to EPA data, as well as carbon monoxide, fine particulate matter, and hydrocarbons.
The health effects of this air pollution include premature death in people with heart or lung disease; heart attacks; aggravated asthma; and increased respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.
As of 2019, approximately one in eight children and one in six adults in Pennsylvania reported an asthma diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. This is higher than the national per capita asthma rate.
Generating 22% of CO2 emissions statewide, fossil fuel-powered vehicles are also the third largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions in Pennsylvania, contributing significantly to climate change.
Electric vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. By comparison, on average, one 15-year-old diesel garbage truck traveling approximately 14,000 miles annually will have emitted more than 1.1 tons of NOx over its lifetime. There are thousands of old diesel garbage trucks in use in Pennsylvania.