Press Release

BALTIMORE (January 9, 2004) – Public transportation serving East Baltimore will be burning clean diesel fuel for the next year, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced today.

A grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combined with state transportation funds will make it possible for the Maryland Transit Administration, an MDOT division, to buy 1.7 million gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel for the 165-bus fleet that serves East Baltimore communities.

“This project will have an immediate and noticeable impact on East Baltimore,” said Kendl P. Philbrick, Acting Secretary of the Environment. “The air will be cleaner along the routes served by these buses. This is effective environmental justice at the grassroots level.”

The funding - $100,000 plus nearly $40,000 in matching funds from the Maryland Department of Transportation and MDE – comes from an EPA program that pays for demonstration projects across the country. The money will be used to pay the difference between the cost of regular diesel and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel.

MDE’s proposal was one of seven selected from among 39 applications, according to Donald S. Welsh, EPA Administrator for the Mid-Atlantic Region.

“We congratulate the Maryland Department of the Environment for taking a major step in protecting the health of Maryland residents. The use of ultra-low sulfur fuel will go a long way in reducing the amount of particle pollution in Baltimore, one of the most heavily-traveled
urban corridors in the mid-Atlantic region,” Welsh said.

“Of course,” Welsh added, “this project would not be possible without the enthusiastic support from the Maryland Department of Transportation’s transit administration.”

MDOT Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said, “The cooperative efforts between the Maryland Department of Transportation, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Environmental Protection Agency have resulted in our ability to purchase a cleaner upgraded fuel and proves that the benefits of public transportation do not have to be gained at the expense of the environment. We look forward to the possibility of further improvements.”

The East Baltimore fleet, which is based at the Eastern Maintenance Facility on Oldham Street, travels routes in Rosedale, Foxridge, White Marsh, Oliver Beach, Towson, Westview, Security Square, and downtown.

Philbrick said that one of the considerations in the decision to target East Baltimore is MDE’s Environmental Benefits District initiative, which targets low income and rebuilding communities. The initiative is designed to coordinate efforts by MDE and other state agencies to solve a range of problems – including environmental problems – in these communities.

It is expected that MTA will begin using ultra-low sulfur fuel by March. Each bus will display a “Cleaner Buses for Cleaner Communities” sign.