Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC)
190 North Independence Mall West,
8th Floor,
Philadelphia, PA 19106

November 21, 2005


Brett Alkins, Johnson Matthey Inc.
Soumitra Basu, Temple University College of Engineering
Ken Brown, University of Pennsylvania
Ray Chalmers, U.S. EPA, Region 3
Eric Cheung, Clean Air Council/PDD
Colin Cleary, Thomas Jefferson University - Asthma BUSters
Morris Fine, AMS/PDD
Kirt Flowers, Amtrak
Sean Greene, DVRPC
Joseph Grinkewicz, School District Of Philadelphia, Transportation
John Hadalski, City of Philadelphia
Darlene Heep, Law Dept., City of Philadelphia, Environmental Section
Paula Krall, EPA Region III
Jack LeBeau, E Global Solutions
Lisa Magee, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority
Sue McDowell, EPA Region III
Kristen Morinelli, MD Dept. of the Environment
Robert Neff, PA Turnpike Commission
Lonnie Richmond, MD Dept. of the Environment
Larry Rosen, Rentar Fuel Catalyst
Jack Schweitzer, Amtrak
Brinda Shetty, Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities
Jienki Synn, DVRPC
Alison Tracy, AMS


Alison Tracy


Morris convened the meeting and welcomed all in attendance, including today's presenter, Colin Cleary of Asthma BUSters. He then announced some awards that were recently made public. First, as part of the State of Pennsylvania's Energy Harvest grant, $100,000 was awarded to the Walt Whitman Truck Stop for implementation of a Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) project. Several partners will be supporting this project, including Greater Philadelphia Clean Cities, the Health Department, and the Clean Air Council. All involved are looking forward to full funding when matching funds become available-currently, the Truck Stop is awaiting word on whether it will receive AFIG funds for this purpose. Second, Cardone, Inc., an auto part manufacturer, received an award for Alternative Power Units (APUs) for roughly two dozen vehicles, and is also considering implementing a Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) project.

Morris also reported that the Mid-Atlantic Diesel Collaborative met on October 20th with representatives from Region III, as well as Joe Minott from the Clean Air Council and Sue Wierman from MARAMA, regarding coordination of clean diesel activities. As the Collaborative grows, there will be ongoing outreach between Collaborative members and the Diesel Difference. We look forward to establishing a process for maximizing Region III funding.

In other news, the Diesel Difference is currently working on creating a database of willing fleets, in order to quickly establish partnerships when new sources of funding become available. In the future, a web-based interface may be developed to facilitate commitments from fleets and establish new workgroup partners.

Finally, Morris mentioned the National Clean Diesel Campaign's upcoming Policy Leaders Summit to be held in Washington, DC on December 7th and 8th, 2005. Alison handed out packets of information on the event.


Eric described the changes he recently made to the Diesel Difference website, including the archives section, as well as presentations and minutes from subcommittee meetings (specifically the most recent port subcommittee minutes). The events calendar was also revamped, and a schedule of Diesel Difference meeting dates for next year was added. Eric also handed out a hard copy of these dates for the group. Eric gave more details about the CAC's progress on developing a bank of interested fleets to facilitate future funding applications and demonstrate the area's commitment to clean diesel. Currently, Eric is working with Alison on creating a commitment form for fleets to fill out.

Eric discussed New Jersey's newly-passed mandate on clean diesel, which will guarantee funding for school bus retrofits. Hopefully, the State of Pennsylvania will follow New Jersey's lead in initiating similar legislation and funding.


There are currently two active subcommittees, according to Eric. One is the Port Subcommittee, which met on Nov. 2, 2005 and is scheduled to meet next on Dec. 12 (after the Diesel Difference meeting). Sean Jacobs of the Clean Air Council is coordinating these meetings as well as an upcoming workshop on Feb. 20th to showcase retrofit technologies specific to port-based fleets. Sean is also working with the Maritime Advisory Council to identify and recruit stakeholders from the Port of Philadelphia. Sean and Eric will present the Diesel Difference at their next meeting and will discuss one grant opportunity available to groups operating at the port to retrofit ground equipment.

The Criteria Committee also met after the October Diesel Difference meeting to discuss fleet recognition. Currently, three recognitions are in the works: Amtrak, North Penn and the Asthma BUS. Eric referred to Kirt Flowers, who acknowledged that nine vehicle retrofits have been completed and four more are slated to occur before the end of the year. North Penn's modifications are complete, and Eric noted that their 40 retrofitted vehicles are running on Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD). Interestingly, the long term contract that North Penn is locked into has actually saved them money over what they would be paying for regular diesel fuel. Thanks to those savings, North Penn is attempting to apply the money they would have received to cover the gas price differential to future retrofits instead. The Asthma BUS is currently in the repair shop and should have its Lubrizol Purifier Catalyst installed within 7-10 days. The catalyst is verified for 20% particulate reduction and 50% reduction of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The installation should automatically qualify the organization for a Gold level recognition, and it may even be eligible for a Platinum level award depending on the vehicle's specifications from before and after the installation. Because the vehicle is so unique (a London-style double-decker bus), data has not previously been readily available.

Morris said once all the information on each of these projects is available, the Criteria Committee can discuss and recommend a status level for each via email. The Executive Committee will then take a final vote. A letter and form is being sent to each to expedite the reduction calculations.


Eric remarked on the Clean Diesel Grant recently received by the Clean Air Council for cargo equipment retrofitting. CAC will be advertising for this opportunity soon.

The EPA just announced new funding available as part of the Inventions and Innovation Grant program. Two $50,000 awards will be available beginning in January of next year. Eric will post information on this opportunity on the website, in case local universities and other research entities are interested in applying.

Morris gave an account of the recent check presentation on November 7th by EPA to the Clean Air Council as part of the National Clean Diesel Campaign. EPA Administrator Steve Johnson presented the $100,000 award and Health Department Acting Commissioner Joanne Godley, Region III Administrator Tom Fidler, Maritime Advisory Council Chair John Cuff, and U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah were in attendance. The money will be used to pay for the cost of retrofits for off-road port fleets (e.g. demonstration projects such as forklifts and cranes). This differs from the $80,000 CARE Grant which will be used to develop a stakeholder group to study environmental issues related to the Port of Philadelphia and make recommendations for potential projects.

The Group gave some general comments on the day's topics:

Joseph Grinkewicz addressed the use of ULSD by school bus fleets, saying that his fleets had not experienced problems like those encountered by North Penn. He also noted that his office did not make drivers aware of the change in fuel, in order to prevent inadvertent false associations between ULSD and fueling problems.

One member urged the group to write letters or emails acknowledging the support of elected officials such as Chaka Fattah, in order to encourage continued participation in future events and projects.

Morris let the group know that AMS will be reporting on a quarterly basis to EPA Region III regarding retrofit progress in the City of Philadelphia. All grant-funding agencies in region III are being asked to assist with collection of data. He asked the group to please email Alison if they become aware of any retrofitting activities in the city that we may not already know about. In addition, he welcomed suggestions on how to set up a process for collecting retrofit data. John Hadalski brought up SPC, which may be initiating its own independent projects. Brett Alkins suggested that PDD contact Kevin Benson at Cummins to see if they have information. Eric said that he would call his contact there as well.

Soumitra Basu inquired about whether effectiveness studies have been done in the city as a follow-up to retrofit projects. Brett Alkins explained that most projects don't require follow-ups since they use verified technologies. However, some major studies have been completed recently by Johnson-Matthey, M.J. Hamilton, and Booz-Allen.


Colin Cleary gave a presentation on his organization, Asthma BUSters. Asthma BUSters is a group devoted to educating children and their families about the dangers of Asthma and how to prevent risk and manage symptoms. The bus itself is a Bristol (British-style) double-decker bus which has been converted to a mobile classroom. The lower deck is used to survey children using a culturally-sensitive video presentation, in an attempt to diagnose in a non-clinical way whether each child has (or is at risk for) Asthma. The upper deck provides another venue for Colin to speak to children-6th graders are specifically targeted-about how to prevent and treat Asthma and Asthma attacks. About 25% of children surveyed by the Asthma BUS staff are ascertained as likely Asthma sufferers. Although 20% of those are false positives, they are all given a copy of the educational video to show their parents and information on treatment options, in the hopes that those families will obtain medical care for their child. Asthma BUS staffers coordinate with school nurses in an effort to follow up on children at high risk for Asthma complications. Instructors also discuss smoking with children, and help to connect families in need with low-cost or no-cost care opportunities. Ultimately, the goal of Asthma BUSters is to prevent illness and death, reduce missed school days, and raise awareness about Asthma-related public health problems such as air pollution. To that end, the Asthma BUS is being retrofitted to help contribute to improved health outcomes for students as well as Asthma BUSters employees, and to set an example for other nonprofit organizations.

Colin was asked a number of questions by the group, including whether studies or follow up are done to ensure that children are getting care. Colin replied that because of privacy and confidentiality, it is impossible to obtain personal data on students, or follow up. The group relies on school nurses to urge parents to obtain health care for their child. However, the group is aware that only a small percentage of students actually follow up their positive diagnosis with a doctor's visit.

In response to a question on program funding, Colin explained that while Thomas Jefferson University Hospital administers the program, it does not give direct funding. Financing is done through grants from organizations like Healthy People 2010 and the City of Philadelphia, and contributions from private companies like Wawa.

The program's next steps, Colin said, are to find ways to increase the number of diagnosed children who seek out treatment and clinical diagnosis from doctors. One problem is that children rarely have Asthma attacks in classrooms, so schools are generally not identified as having a responsibility to protect children from the disease. Another concern is that asthma is so difficult to diagnose clinically, as it varies from very mild to severe. Attacks can also happen at any age, even if the victim has never had one before. Programs like Asthma Bus are a good first step, but they must be part of a larger plan to address the disease. Because Particulate Matter (PM) is an Asthma trigger, groups like the Diesel Difference should be mindful of the positive effects clean diesel programs can have on the lives of Asthma sufferers.

Morris wrapped the meeting up by thanking Colin and all attendees, and reminding them to email Alison at Alison.Tracy@phila.gov with any suggestions for the aforementioned quarterly retrofit project reports.


The next meeting will be held December 12, 2005 - location TBA.