AQMD Funded Cleaner Burning Trucks Hit the Road

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer

A new fleet of cleaner burning trucks will soon be seen trundling through Boyle Heights neighborhoods.

Local officials and community members lauded the new trucks as a step in the right direction at a dedication ceremony last Thursday, Feb. 23, in which Boyle Heights beverage distributor ACE Beverage Co. announced that it has replaced several older, pre-1994 trucks with 25 new diesel trucks that are 96 percent cleaner and would reduce pollutants by 755 pounds per truck over the next four years.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Distribuidor de Bebidas de Boyle Heights Luce Camiones Limpios

ACE Beverage Co. used a $1.5 million matching grant received through the South Coast Air Quality Management District, AQMD. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency providing the money for the new trucks.

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard called the matching grant, in which ACE Beverage Co. also put up $1.5 million of its own money, a “very positive and important example of how companies can successfully work with government agencies for the common good.”

A Boyle Heights native, Roybal-Allard recalled the “big fights” against putting freeways in the neighborhood, because they knew back then that they were “going to cause toxic emissions that would damage the health of our community.”

Boyle Heights is home to a knot of major freeways comprised of the I-10, US 101, SR 60, and I-5 freeways, serving as an access station for industrial businesses that frequently use diesel trucks to deliver or receive goods.

Not far from those freeways are residential communities, as well as the Soto Street Elementary School, which was deemed “most endangered because of the lack of air quality” of all the area schools, said Father John Moretta of the Boyle Heights-based Resurrection Church.

Though a small step, “this project is a very, very important thing, and it should be encouraged,” Moretta said.

14th District Los Angeles Councilman José Huizar, a resident of Boyle Heights raising four young children, said the community has a rich history that includes being one of the first suburbs in Los Angeles.

“One of the things we are often concerned about is to ensure that our children are safe, that they have a safe place to play and a safe place to go to school. But one of the things that we often don’t see in front of us is the quality of the air, and whether that is safe for us or not,” he said.

The Boyle Heights community was also where “generations of Angelenos” gained access to jobs because of the local industrial base, Huizar said. The programs that lead to ACE Beverage’s purchase of the new trucks “is the type of initiative we should see more of,” he said.

The truck replacement project is part of the EPA’s Clean Air Technology Initiative, which funds projects to reduce emissions in communities where residents are disproportionately impacted by various sources of air pollution.

The new trucks replaced 18-year-old diesel trucks at Ace Beverage Co.’s distribution center in Boyle Heights. According to AQMD, the new diesel trucks are about 96 percent cleaner than the 25 trucks they replaced and are certified to meet or exceed the state’s 2010 emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel trucks.

The air quality district estimated that each new truck will emit about 755 fewer pounds of smog-forming nitrogen oxide and particulate matter over four years.

“Clean air is vital to everyone’s health, and these new trucks will have a real impact,” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said. “By putting advanced truck technologies on our roads, we save fuel and improve health in our communities. Development of innovative, clean technologies also helps create jobs that grow our economy.”

AQMD spokeperson Sam Atwood commended ACE Beverage Co. for choosing to take part in their program, saying “we don’t have [willing participants] lining up at our door everyday” to take advantage of these types of partnership initiatives.

While the federal funding has been used up, the AQMD continues to offer funding to businesses through other sources, such as the Proposition 1B, which was passed by California voters to fund transportation programs and pollution reduction efforts.

Information from City News Service was used in this story.

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March 1, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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