Diesel Emissions Reduction Act nears renewal

By Luke Geiver | November 17, 2010
Posted Dec. 1, 2010

The Senate Environment and Public Works committee has reauthorized the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act first passed in 2005. Led by Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and ranking member Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., the move if passed will continue a loan program initially set up to reduce diesel emissions via upgrades and modernization of older diesel engines and equipment. Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., introduced initial legislation in 2005 and the program was approved by a vote of 92-1. The program is set to expire in the 2011 fiscal year.

"While it's been difficult lately to find environmental issues that have near-universal bipartisan support among Democrats and Republicans, DERA has proven to be one program to do so," according to Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. "In addition, a unique and diverse coalition of more than 500 environmental, health, industry, labor and government organizations are actively working for DERA's reauthorization."

The EPA estimates that every federal dollar invested into DERA translates into at least 13 dollars in health benefits, Schaeffer also said. "I am pleased that the EPW Committee was able to come together and pass common-sense environmental legislation," said Inhofe in a statement on the DERA legislation. He added that this program will achieve "worthy goals without sacrificing jobs or economic growth," and that the program acts as a model of bipartisan legislation "that I hope will swiftly pass through Congress and become law by year's end."

The DTF indicates that if all of today's older diesel were replaced by new models that meet current emissions standards for sulfur and particulate matter, at least 110,000 tons of particulate matter and 2.6 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides will be eliminated from the nation's air. And compared to 1988 diesel trucks, trucks today emit one-sixtieth of the emissions. "To put it another way," the DTF said, "replacing or retrofitting the nation's older diesels with these newer, cleaner models will be the clean air equivalent of taking 13 million of today's trucks off the road." Standing in the way of the DERA program, however, is the lame duck session and a Senate and House passage of the bill.
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