SACRAMENTO, CA - The California Air Resources Board said it has $28 million in grants available through its Voucher Incentive Program (VIP) to help independent truckers and small fleet owners replace or retrofit older, high-polluting diesel trucks ahead of California's regulatory deadlines.

VIP grants help truck owners meet a 2008 public health regulation that accelerates the replacement of dirty diesel trucks. These grants are available only to owners of small fleets -- one to three trucks -- for replacing the dirtier models with newer, cleaner ones.

The big-rig regulation requires 2010 model year engines in all heavy-duty trucks and buses by 2023. Soot traps must be installed on older rigs by 2011 and on all models by 2014. The regulation is the latest in a series of measures the Air Resources Board has adopted since 2000 to reduce the public health risk from breathing the tiny particles in diesel exhaust. Numerous studies indicate that reducing diesel emissions results in fewer asthma attacks, hospitalizations and deaths among those with heart and lung problems.

In May 2010, the Air Resources Board expanded the range of trucks eligible and raised the grant limit for replacement of high-mileage trucks to $45,000, from the previous $35,000. The board also established VIP grants of up to $10,000 a truck for installing soot traps on rigs that are not as close to retirement.

The trucks to be replaced must have a 2002 model year or older diesel engine. Those with 2004 through 2006 model year diesel engines qualify for the soot trap installation money.  The trucks to be retrofitted or replaced must have a gross vehicle weight of at least 19,501 pounds.  The vehicles also must have been registered in California for the past two years, operating within the state at least 75 percent of the time. 

The minimum mileage requirement is 15,000 miles per year, although higher mileage trucks may receive a larger grant amount.

The amount of the VIP grant is not based on need but on how much cleaner the replacement truck runs.

ARB's loan guarantee program provides competitive rate financing for new and used truck purchases, soot traps and the EPA-approved "SmartWay" aerodynamic skirts and low rolling resistance tires. Loans are issued through participating financial institutions. Eligibility depends on the size of the fleet and other conditions.

Grants can be used to purchase a new or used replacement truck. The trucks must be bought from a dealer participating in the VIP. Participating dealers -- currently about 60 statewide -- are trained in the program and have all application papers at hand.

VIP grants are available to truckers who travel anywhere California, regardless of where they are based.

Port trucks -- those working in ports and intermodal rails for the past two or more years -- are not eligible.

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