April 9, 2009

RI Receives Nearly $3 Million to Reduce Diesel Emissions, Clean Up Underground Oil Tanks

Providence, RI – Rhode Island will receive nearly $3 million in federal environmental funding to promote programs to reduce diesel emissions and clean up petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks, the state’s Congressional delegation announced today.

“This federal funding will help put people to work, protect public health, and restore critical environmental cleanup efforts. We need to ensure that families, communities, and businesses have safe, clean air and drinking water. This federal investment will help keep that commitment by reducing pollution and preventing it from seeping into our water supply,” said Senator Jack Reed.

“This funding will help keep Rhode Island’s air, water, and soil cleaner and safer,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.

“This program will save Rhode Island from both future environmental damage and from future cleanup costs. The funding is a wise investment for our future,” said Congressman Patrick Kennedy.

“This recovery funding to cleanup leaking underground storage tanks will allow us to make a much needed investment to protect our public water system and keep our environment clean and safe,” said Congressman Jim Langevin.

The state will receive approximately $1.73 million to retrofit diesel engines in state owned or operated cars, trucks, school buses, and other vehicles to significantly reduce pollution from the these sources and improve fuel economy

The funding headed to Rhode Island is part of $300 million appropriated for clean diesel activities by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which the delegation supported. In addition to the state initiatives, the recovery bill includes $156 million in competitive grants for diesel emission reduction programs, for which Rhode Island will be eligible to apply, as well as $20 million to support the use, development and commercialization of emerging technologies that reduce emissions from diesel engines, and $30 million to support the creation of national, state or local innovative clean diesel financing programs.

Rhode Island will also receive $977,000 for underground tank cleanup. This Environmental Protection Agency program helps prevent drinking water contamination that occurs when petroleum or other hazardous substances seep into the soil, and will create or protect jobs for workers who perform site assessments and cleanup work. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated a total of $197 million was appropriated nationwide under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which the delegation supported.

In Rhode Island, the Office of Waste Management within the Department of Environmental Management oversees the state’s Underground Storage Tank Management Program, which includes the cleanup of leaking underground storage tanks (the LUST program). As of last October, there was a backlog of 254 LUST cleanups yet to be completed; 63 percent of motor fuel underground storage tank facilities were in significant operational compliance with requirements on release detection and prevention.

The funding can be used either to oversee cleanup projects or directly pay to clean up leaks from federally regulated tanks, where the responsible party is unknown, unwilling or unable to mitigate the damage, or the cleanup is an emergency response. According to EPA, this spring the agency’s regional programs will enter into cooperative agreements with individual states that will include more detailed descriptions of states’ spending plans.


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