LOUISVILLE, KY The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Diesel Emissions Reduction National Program selected UPS for an award of $473,939 to reduce particulate matter generated by diesel engines at the company's Worldport global all-points air hub. UPS currently operates the largest alternative-fuel powered fleet of ground vehicles in the United States.

The EPA funding will be disbursed to the Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition, which in turn will distribute the monies to the UPS Airlines. The grant will fund two projects to reduce particulate matter: the replacement of diesel engines in ground support cargo tugs and the extension of ground electricity to parked aircraft. The Kentucky Clean Fuels Coalition is composed of auto manufacturers, equipment providers, private and public fleet managers, government agencies, fuel providers, and universities. Its mission is to improve air quality and support economic development across Kentucky by promoting the use of clean fuels and educating about evolving technologies.

In the first project, UPS will replace diesel engines in 92 tugs with much cleaner gasoline engines. Since the particulate matter emissions are nearly zero for the new engines, replacing the diesel engines will have the net effect of removing 5.3 tons of particulate matter annually from the air, according to the company. 

In the second project, UPS will install electric units to power aircraft parked at Worldport, allowing them to avoid the use of 26 diesel generators. Although commercial electrical power does require burning fuel at a power plant, removing the diesel generators from the airport will eliminate 2.2 tons of particulate matter per year in Louisville.

These two projects are the latest contributions toward UPS' comprehensive sustainability strategy. The company's Louisville-based airline division has undertaken extensive efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption, minimize noise, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by optimizing flight routes and speeds, managing aircraft dispatch and taxi times, shutting down unneeded engines for taxiing, and experimenting with alternative fuels in ground support vehicles.

"We have come a long way in improving our air quality in Louisville, but we still need to improve," said Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson, adding that UPS is helping the city "move toward cleaner air."

UPS' first foray into alternative fuel vehicles was with a fleet of electric vehicles that operated in New York in the 1930s.