EPA targets ports for green truck loans
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has launched a low-cost financing program in the Norfolk area with the help of the Virginia Port Authority that will provide low-cost loans to motor carriers to purchase cleaner-burning diesel trucks.
The initiative is part of the EPA’s Smartway program which encourages the trucking industry and shippers to work together to increase energy efficiency and reduce air pollution in exchange for a green certificate similar to a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. Shippers in the program commit to do at least 50 percent of their business with Smartway Transport carriers.
The Virginia Port Authority will help promote the loan program to truckers serving the port. The EPA said it is working with other port authorities to expand the loan program nationwide. Ports are a major area of concern because a large percentage of the trucking firms that provide local cargo shuttle service are one-man operations that use much older trucks than typically found in the long-haul, over-the-road segment of the industry. Diesel engines produce large amounts of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. 2007 model year engines must meet stricter EPA emissions requirements, but are thousands of dollars more expensive to purchase than engines produced in preceding years.
Under the program, the EPA has arranged for loans with lower monthly payments and more flexible loan terms for buyers of heavy-duty diesel trucks equipped with a diesel exhaust filter. Truckers can save about $100 to $200 per month on their payments by buying trucks that reduce particulate emissions by at least 50 percent.
The loan can also be used to finance the purchase of fuel-saving equipment such as an auxiliary power unit designed to run air conditioning and other internal equipment instead of idling when at rest, wide-based tires, and aerodynamic tractor and trailer accessories.
The EPA previously offered loan programs through several lenders for the anti-idle kits and other equipment upgrades. The new initiative steps up the effort to include purchase of the entire truck itself.