Norfolk – The success of the Virginia Port Authority's Green Operator, or GO, program has led it to become the model for development of the Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program that offers financial support to replace older, more polluting short-haul trucks that serve ports in the Mid-Atlantic.
"Our voluntary program is the model which says a lot about the success we have had, but it also goes to the importance of a larger, coordinated regional effort aimed at reducing emissions from this mode of transport," said Heather Wood, the VPA's director of environmental affairs. "In addition, this regional effort will be using federal grant money that will be available to all the ports."
The effort is being spearheaded by The University of Maryland Environmental Finance Center (EFC) in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Regional Air Management Association Inc. and is being supported by a $3.3 million of grant funds from US Environmental Protection Agency. Moreover, the program will build on the initial EPA grant with the financial support and cooperation of the participating states, as well as the shippers and carriers associated with these ports.
The Mid-Atlantic Dray Truck Replacement Program – which soon will be renamed GO – will offer qualified applicants a $15,000 down payment toward the purchase of trucks that meet more stringent emissions standards. The intent of the program is to remove some of the oldest, dirtiest trucks from the fleets that serve the ports of Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Wilmington (DE).
"We no longer want our ports to be the place where old trucks go to die. We understand the need for supporting our local economy but not at the expense of the health of the surrounding port community," said Joanne Throwe, director of the Environmental Finance Center. "This program aims to give truck drivers an opportunity to afford that cleaner, greener truck but at the same time, not go broke making the payments for that truck."
Throwe and her colleagues are working to engage partners so they can double the impact of the EPA award with a dollar-for-dollar match in the form of sponsorships and support from the public and private sector.
In 2007, Virginia was the first state in nation to build a voluntary program specifically for creating a cleaner and more fuel efficient fleet of local trucks. In March, the VPA merged its Green Operator Program to this Mid-Atlantic partnership and is leveraging the program with a $300,000 contribution of its own. There are 150 applications pending and 24 of those are ready to receive approval for funding.
With the industry commitment demonstrated by members of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation (CRT) whose members make up some of the largest shippers and distributers from around the country, CRT is working to establish and endorse clean truck programs around the country. Through this partnership with CRT, EPA hopes to bring more attention to clean truck issues and strengthen the opportunity to support programs such as the Mid-Atlantic effort.