New Jersey Turnpike (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting applications for projects that reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality and human health. The applications will be accepted through Jan. 7, 2022 with approximately $320,000 available to fund Wisconsin-based projects to reduce emissions.
According to a DNR press release, funding for the projects will be supported through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency began awarding clean diesel grants in 2008 under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, a grant program crafted by Congress as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The release notes that grant programs geared towards reducing diesel emissions have reduced carbon dioxide emissions in Wisconsin by more than 625,000 tons since the programs started.
In 2019, Gov. Tony Evers issued two executive orders focusing on clean energy and addressing climate change. Executive order #38 called for the creation of an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy. The office was charged with ensuring that all electricity consumed in Wisconsin is 100% carbon-free by 2050, aligning the state’s goals with the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, as well as with the development of a clean energy plan. Executive Order #52 created the state’s climate change task force chaired by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes,.
Funding projects to reduce diesel emissions works towards the goals set by these orders, the DNR says. Gail Good, DNR’s air management director, said, “the DNR continues to participate in this grant program because of the highly beneficial outcomes such as encouraging diesel operators to implement emission reduction strategies to improve our state’s air quality while safeguarding public health and reducing fuel consumption.” In addition to reducing diesel emissions by over 625,000 tons, the programs have also resulted in more than $284 million in health cost savings, and saved over 54 million gallons of diesel fuel.
The DNR’s announcement comes as the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, wraps up in Glasgow, Scotland. Advocates say more effort is needed to avoid crossing a 1.5C temperature limit. Exceeding that limit, scientists warn, would catastrophically worsen the impacts of climate change. Laurent Fabius, the former French foreign minister who oversaw the Paris climate accord, stressed that, “in the present circumstances [targets] must be enhanced next year.” Current plans would lead to a 2.4C increase in temperature, according to an analysis by Climate Action Tracker. Russ Bennett, an environmental activist who’s participated in climate-related protests and resistance actions in Wisconsin has called climate change “the great sorrow.”
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