CHARLOTTE, NC — On Nov. 3, 2011, Mecklenburg County Air Quality (MCAQ) will receive special recognition from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the County’s annual Air Quality Forum held at UNC Charlotte. The $800,000 award will be presented to MCAQ for AeroGRADE+, a project designed to replace older diesel ground support equipment and engines at Charlotte Douglas International Airport with cleaner, less-polluting equipment.
“This is great news for the airport, airlines and neighbors and falls in line with Charlotte Airport’s commitment to sustainability,” said Aviation Director Jerry Orr. “Everyone wins when you can minimize environmental impacts and reduce the carbon footprint while providing jobs.”
MCAQ recently applied for and received this funding assistance under the 2011 Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA). It is one of only four DERA projects awarded in the southeast. AeroGRADE+ is expected to reduce over 400 tons of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution by replacing 126 or more diesel engines. CDIA and MCAQ are planning a kick-off event for AeroGRADE+ to be held in early 2012 at Charlotte Douglas.
AeroGRADE+ is the most recent iteration of MCAQ’s successful GRADE+ (Grants to Replace Aging Diesel Engines Plus) program. GRADE+ is a sub-grant program for the 13 county, bi-state, Charlotte, NC ozone nonattainment region that has brought over $3 million in federal and state funding to the local economy. Repowers and replacements of non-road, stationary, and on-road diesel engines through GRADE+ will yield over 600 tons of NOx reductions over the next 5 to 10 years.
The Charlotte region currently exceeds the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ground-level ozone of 0.075 ppm (parts per million). With a current compliance value of 0.079 ppm, the region expects to be officially designated as a non-attainment area for this standard in mid-2012. AeroGRADE+ will provide much needed NOx reductions necessary for progress towards meeting this lower standard.
The Nov. 3 recognition by EPA starts at 8:30 a.m. and will take place at MCAQ’s Annual Air Quality Forum, which will be held at UNCC Barnhardt Student Activity Center. The forum allows representatives from business and industry an opportunity to learn more about changes and updates to permitting requirements and air quality regulations that impact them. All businesses that hold an air quality permit issued by MCAQ are invited to attend.
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Media Contact: For more information on AeroGRADE+ or the Air Quality Forum, please contact Alan Giles of MCAQ at 704-336-5430 or Alan.Giles@MecklenburgCountyNC.gov .