BARSTOW Barstow area residents working on projects designed to reduce the amount of air pollution motor vehicles generate may be eligible for financial assistance from the local air quality district.

About $1 million is available through the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District for projects public or private agencies are working on. The projects could range from converting a gasoline-powered car to one that runs on natural gas to reducing the amount of road dust kicked up by vehicles. Agencies can also use up to 25 percent of the grant money to purchase a cleaner-burning vehicle.

Grant funds come from vehicle registration fees, said Violette Roberts, community relations and education manager. Air district officials put those funds into an account and make those funds available to residents and businesses when there is a substantial amount. The last time the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District awarded this grant was in 2009.

Each applicant must submit a proposal to the air quality management district to be eligible for the grant. District officials determine whether or not the project can actually reduce air pollution, its cost effectiveness and the district's past experience with the applicant. Officials also take into account whether similar projects have been successful in the past.

"A few years back we had a private citizen who put in a proposal for a dust (suppressant) demonstration project," Roberts said. "He was able to give us quantification based on comparable projects that had been done even though this was a new type of suppressant."

Other projects that have been partially funded through the air quality management district include the addition of bike racks on buses operated by the Victor Valley Transportation Authority as well as a compressed natural gas facility built by the City of Blythe.

Proposals will be accepted through June 1. For more information, call 760-245-1661 extension 1885 or visit www.mdaqmd.ca.gov.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com