DEEP: State, Local and Federal Officials Make Two Stops in New Haven

June 9, 2011
State, Local and Federal Officials Make Two Stops in New Haven to Highlight Efforts to Achieve Clean Air and Energy

Officials join school children at air monitoring station in Criscuolo Park and tour new truck electrification facility at Port of New Haven

As summer-like temperatures threatened Connecticut’s air quality, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Daniel C. Esty, Department of Transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and other federal and state officials joined New Haven school children to highlight efforts to promote clean air and energy in Connecticut.

Stop 1: Air Monitoring Station

At Criscuolo Park in New Haven, fourth and fifth graders from the nearby Cold Spring School joined Commissioner Esty and Mayor DeStefano for a visit to the air monitoring station located there and a discussion of the importance of monitoring air quality to protect public health and the environment. This station, one of 21 permanent monitoring stations maintained by DEP throughout the state, provides daily data to track air quality and air quality trends.

Using data from the monitoring stations, DEP issues an Air Quality Index every weekday.  Since the 1970s, monitored pollutant trends of the criteria pollutants have decreased significantly due to various control measures implemented by CT DEP and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

DEP also makes daily ozone forecasts for the period May 1 through September 30 as high ozone concentrations typically occur during hot weather. Ozone is a colorless gas that is a major constituent of smog. Ozone contributes to the majority of unhealthy air quality days in Connecticut. There were 24 unhealthy air days during 2010.

Ozone levels in Connecticut are dominated by transport from upwind areas, emissions from both in-state and out-of-state power plants, cars and trucks, industry, and the activities of Connecticut’s residents (e.g., lawn mowing, personal care products, painting). Ground-level ozone aggravates respiratory illness, including asthma, especially for sensitive groups such as children and the elderly.

Information from air quality monitoring is also used to:

  • Determine compliance with and/or progress made towards meeting ambient air quality standards.
  • Assess pollution trends throughout the region, including non-urban areas.
  • Create and establish a data base for research evaluation of effects: urban, land-use, and transportation planning; development and evaluation of abatement strategies; and development and validation of diffusion models.

Stop 2: Truck Stop Electrification Site – Port of New Haven

Following the visit to Criscuolo Park, attendees boarded a low emission, fuel efficient hybrid bus and traveled to the Port of New Haven where a 14-space Truck Stop Electrification (TSE) facility is being completed. The facility, located at the corner of Stiles and Alabama Streets,

was funded with the help of $380,000 in federal stimulus dollars secured by DEP. It allows truckers to connect to electric power to operate critical equipment while waiting to load or unload cargo, instead of idling their diesel engines.

The benefits of this facility include:

  • The average long haul tractor trailer idles its engine for 2,400 hours each year, mostly to power a heater or air conditioner while the driver takes mandated rest breaks. TSE saves fuel and its pollution. Idling burns one gallon of fuel per hour, which translates into 20 pounds of CO2 per gallon;
  • Public safety issue: Safer for trucks to use the TSE instead of parking along highways and exit ramps;
  • Frees up parking space at rest areas for other motorists; and
  • Protects environmental justice communities by parking trucks at the TSE rather than in impacted communities.

Reducing diesel emissions from trucks in the area around the Port of New Haven is a critical air quality and environmental justice issue, especially given the presence of urban residential neighborhoods in this area. As the most traveled area in Connecticut, Fairfield and New Haven Counties are impacted by air pollution from I-95, and I-91, which comprise a primary transportation corridor between New England and the rest of the country. This transportation corridor also encompasses the ship, barge and ferry traffic through Connecticut ports and in Long Island Sound as well as the railway corridors that parallel I-95 and I-91.

Comments of Officials

DEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty said, "This week’s warm weather, and the impact it will have on air quality, reminds us of the importance of a continued focus on the goal of cleaner air. There is no environmental issue more fundamental than clean air – as the quality of the air we breathe has a direct effect on our health and well being. In Connecticut, DEP is working to reduce both in-state sources of air pollution as well as the amount of pollution carried here from out-of-state sources."

"This is a terrific way to showcase our efforts to make state government operations ‘greener," said Acting DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker. "It’s also an excellent example of inter-agency cooperation. The DOT truck-retrofitting program and our clean, green bus systems are solid examples of how seriously we take these environmental issues, and I’m delighted to have a role in conveying that message."

New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., said, "Projects like the air monitoring station and the truck stop electrification facility highlight the collaboration of city, state and federal agencies aimed at protecting the health of New Haven resident and the air that we breathe. The concerted effort by all levels of will make New Haven and Connecticut a better place to live for years to come."

"The air we breathe is critical to our health, and I am pleased to welcome Commissioners Esty and Redeker to New Haven today to raise awareness in our communities and with our children.

I have always worked hard to secure the funds our city needs to move forward, modernizing our infrastructure, and improving our economy and environment, and I am very pleased that the Truck Stop Electrification facility installation has been completed," said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. "Projects like these are essential to bettering our communities and ensuring that our children will inherit a healthy and vibrant city."

"We are very proud of the hard work over many years by EPA and our state partners to provide us with clean and healthy air," said Ira Leighton, Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA's New England Regional office. "Even with much cleaner and healthier air today than a generation ago,

we continue to answer the call for innovative ways to clean our air and protect peoples' health."

Background on Cold Spring School

Cold Spring School is an independent school for preschool through sixth grade students founded in 1982. The School’s program is based on the fundamental belief that children learn best when they are actively involved in the educational process and this has guided teachers and staff in the creation of a rich, child centered learning environment. DEP staff visited classrooms at Cold Spring School to discuss air quality issues before the celebration at the monitoring station and worked with the students in developing their student performance on "Getting the Message Out-CT’s Daily Air Quality Index."

On Display at Port of New Haven

At the Port of New Haven, DOT had on display two low-diesel emission construction vehicles that it uses: Volvo Rubber Tire Bucket Loader and a Caterpillar Rubber Tire Backhoe. This equipment was retrofitted with federal stimulus funds.

Details on this stimulus grant to DOT:

  • $510,000.00 for retrofitting non-road equipment on State construction projects with EPA Verified exhaust emission control devices and retrofit State maintenance vehicles in Fairfield and New Haven Counties.
  • 149 DOT snow plow trucks retrofitted with grant funding.
  • 17 pieces of Construction retrofitted with EPA and California Air Research Board diesel oxidation catalysts on four projects in Fairfield and New Haven counties.
  • Program Goals:
  • Reduce diesel exhaust emissions from non-road equipment.
  • Improve air quality in densely populated urban areas (i.e. New Haven and Fairfield Counties)
  • Improve air quality for construction project workers.
  • Positive impacts on sensitive groups such as children, the elderly and people with asthma.
  • Reduction of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and ozone forming nitrogen oxides.
  • Background on Phoenix Press Wind Turbine/15 James St., New Haven, CT

    A representative from Phoenix Press, New Haven, also spoke at ceremony at the air monitoring station. Phoenix Press, a family owned and family operated, full service printer, installed a 100 kilowatt, on-site wind turbine which provides 30 percent of its demand for electricity. This installation is in keeping with the company’s goal of being the greenest commercial printer in the United States. Phoenix’s wind turbine is helping to reduce the emission of air pollution as well as carbon dioxide (CO2) – the turbine is the equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of more than 20 passenger vehicles per year.