The Pima and Maricopa tribes of the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona has been awarded $389,000 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce diesel emissions by replacing construction vehicles.
Gila River Farms matched the donation as well, the EPA said in a media release.
“Replacing older, dirtier diesel equipment with clean diesel backhoes and other construction vehicles protects the health of residents and workers,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, in a statement. “This project to reduce harmful diesel emissions is a great example of how collaboration between federal, tribal, and regional government partners can make a difference in our local communities.”
Home of the Akimel O’odham (Pima) and Pee-Posh (Maricopa) tribes, the community received the grant through the 2015 EPA Diesel Emission Reduction Act Tribal grant program, and was combined with $389,465 in matching funds from Gila River Farms, the EPA said. The money will be used to replace heavy-duty diesel construction vehicles with newer, cleaner, Tier 4 engine vehicles,the EPA said, reducing agriculture workers’ exposure to diesel emissions.
“Exposure to diesel exhaust has been associated with decreased lung function and development and can exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia,” the EPA noted.
The program is part of the West Coast Collaborative, which combines public and private funds to reduce diesel emissions, the EPA said. The Gila River and nearby tribal communities received grants in 2011 and 2013 to retrofit school buses and mining equipment, respectively. Last year several Pacific Northwest tribes received similar grants.