The Cape May-Lewes Ferry next year will begin using clean air technology that will reduce toxic air emissions. The upgrade will be paid for with a $975,000 grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday.

The grant will allow the Delaware River and Bay Authority, which operates the ferry system, to repower the propulsion engines in the ferry M/V Delaware with EPA-certified engines that are anticipated to annually reduce fuel use by 39,600 gallons and reduce annual carbon monoxide emissions by as much as 443 million tons. It also will reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 39.7 tons and particulate emission by nearly half, officials said.

"Cleaning up our air and ensuring people's right to breathe healthy is a priority for EPA. The benefits of upgrading engines on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry will help us combat climate change and benefit local air quality equivalent to removing emissions from 12 diesel tractor-trailer trucks," EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement.

The Cape May-Lewes Ferry, which operates year around, carries 800,000 passengers and 300,000 vehicles annually along a 14-mile route between Cape May and Lewes, Del. - Jacqueline L. Urgo