Air district gets $30M to bring dust down

The Sun-Gazette

Valley Air District accepts U.S. EPA grant for tractor replacement and low-dust harvesting equipment

CENTRAL VALLEY – Dust has hovered over the Valley for decades, putting it under the watchful eye of environmental agencies. Thanks to a $30 million EPA grant there won’t be so much dust fluttering in the air.

The Valley Air District announced last week that they were awarded an additional U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to help fund the replacements of old agricultural tractors and low-dust harvesters.

The district submitted proposals to the EPA for the highly competitive 2019/2020 Targeted Air Shed Grant Program and was informed that two proposals were selected for funding. The low-dust nut harvesting equipment replacement proposal was selected for funding in the amount of $10,366,695, and the agricultural tractor replacement proposal was selected for funding in the amount of $20,000,000. These awards represent the largest awards to date by EPA under the Targeted Airshed Grant Program.

“Grant funds such as these recognize the partnerships with Valley farmers, businesses and residents to expedite emission reductions in the San Joaquin Valley,” Samir Sheikh, Executive Director and Air Pollution Control Officer of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District said. “With these funds and matching investments by local partners, the EPA is acknowledging the unique challenges of the Valley and providing much needed financial assistance.”

Significant resources are needed to implement a successful incentive-based strategy and procure the necessary reductions in emissions. Furthermore, the Valley Air District has developed and implemented a robust and effective voluntary incentive program to identify the needs of the Valley and meet those needs with funding that helps generate significant emission reductions that wouldn’t otherwise occur.

To date, the district’s Tractor Replacement Program has provided over $360 million to replace more than 6,900 older, high-polluting Valley-based agricultural tractors with new, significantly cleaner units. The $20,000,000 from this grant will help fund the replacement of approximately 526 older, high-polluting tractors with significantly cleaner Tier 4 tractors, with significant match funding provided by the District and grant recipients.

To date, the District’s Low Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program has successfully obligated over $1.6 million to replace 29 nut-harvesting pieces of equipment with low-dust nut harvesting equipment. The $10,366,695 from this grant will help fund the replacement of approximately 170 pieces of nut-harvesting equipment with new, low-dust harvesting equipment, with significant match funding provided by the District and grant recipients.

A complete listing of program requirements for both the Tractor Replacement Program and the Low Dust Nut Harvester Replacement Program can be found at www.valleyair.org/grants.

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