The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a five-year extension of DERA, the nation’s grant program to clean up diesel emissions, prior to entering its Christmas break. The bill was sent to President Obama’s desk for signing into law.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced in November by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and George Voinovich (R-OH) and passed a House vote on Dec. 16. Both Carper and Voinovich also introduced the original DERA bill in 2005. The program allows for voluntary national and state-level grants and loans to help reduce diesel emissions by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment.
Since 2005, the federal government has invested roughly $500 million through DERA, and the school bus industry has especially benefited from projects over the last five years. In late October at the NASDPTS annual meeting in Portland, Ore., Jim Blubaugh, manager of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said school buses have been awarded the most DERA funds. At the time, more than 5,500 school buses had been touched by funding.
According to the Diesel Technology Forum, 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 when all legacy diesel fleets on the road today are replaced and meet current EPA clean air standards. The EPA estimates there are 11 million older diesel trucks, buses, and equipment in use today.
Currently, EPA is accepting applications for fiscal year 2011 DERA programs at a cost of $50 million. Proposals are due by mid-January. The project review and award phase was expected to take place between April and July with project implementation to start in April and conclude by August.