Legislation to reauthorize the clean air program that reduces emissions from older diesel vehicles has been introduced in the United States Senate. The legislation would reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) through 2021.
It was introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) and includes Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) as original cosponsors.
The Diesel Technology Forum is a supporter of the legislation.
“We applaud the leadership of Sens. Carper, Inhofe, Boxer, and Capito, working on a bipartisan basis to build on the substantial and proven results of the program,” said Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.
DERA provides incentives and funding through a competitive process for owners of older diesel technology. This ranges from diesel powered units like trucks and buses, to construction and farm equipment. The program aims to reduce emissions by helping these owners with the purchase of approved emissions controls and newer technology, be it a retrofit device or total engine replacement.
“While new diesel technology and fuels have achieved near zero emission levels, DERA is the leading program that upgrades or replaces older diesel engines with newer technology to reduce emissions,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer also underscored the bipartisan effort.
“Clean air for our communities is not a partisan issue and the fact that Democratic and Republican leaders are working together on this important environmental program is a welcome development to the hundreds of environmental, health, industry, and clean air agencies who support DERA and its important mission,” he said.
DERA’s supporting organizations including the American Lung Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, and National School Transportation Association.
According to a new report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March 2016, more than 73,000 older diesel engines were upgraded or replaced between 2008 to 2013 because of DERA funding.
“This highly successful effort can continue to contribute to improving air quality in communities throughout the nation,” Schaeffer said.
According to the report, funding provided by DERA between 2008 and 2013:
• Retrofitted or replaced 73,000 vehicles and equipment
• Reduced particulate matter emissions by 14,700 tons
• Saved 450 million gallons of fuel
• Generated almost $13 billion in environmental benefits.
“These benefits are tangible and show that DERA is benefiting communities in all 50 states with improved air quality,” Schaeffer said. “State and local clean air regulators have relied on DERA funding as a key tool to help move communities toward compliance as new and more stringent clean air requirements for ozone and particulate matter are set to take effect.”
DERA provides $1 in federal assistance to attract $3 in non-federal matching funds to generate, on average, $13 in environmental and health benefits. The report further shows that 10.3 million older diesel engines are in use in the United States. Over one million of these engines are expected to still be in use by 2030.
“DERA funding is extremely competitive,” Schaeffer said. “The grant program has perpetually been oversubscribed with applications exceeding available funding by a 35-to-1 ratio.”