WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama signed the extension of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act that will appropriate $100 million a year in federal funds for eligible projects over the next five years.
The actual annual amount will depend on each year’s funding appropriation. The funding level was reduced from $200 million per year to gain passage through Congress considering the still slowly rebounding economy and a mounting federal deficit. Still, the total of $500 million for emissions reduction projects, engine re-powers and new vehicle purchases beats the $50 million to $60 million appropriated in the last three annual appropriation bills.
President Obama signed the DERA reauthorization into law Tuesday night. The Senate approved the legislation on Dec. 16 followed by the House on Dec. 21.
“While the reauthorization of DERA isn’t receiving the publicity that some other legislative issues attracted, it will be a significant and important accomplishment for the 111th Congress. Because of the national importance of modernizing older diesel engines to reduce emissions, DERA is one of the most important clean air initiatives passed by Congress in recent years,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.
The National School Transportation Association said it fought for changes that were included in the final passed version to allow for direct applications from private entities under contract to federal, state or local governments; streamlining the application process, especially for small businesses; and giving higher priority for projects that benefit school areas.
In addition to school transportation industry organizations such as NSTA, DERA is supported by more than 500 environmental, health, industry, labor and government organizations, such as the Diesel Technology Forum.
Created in 2005 by Sens. Thomas R. Carper (D-DE) and George Voinovich (R-OH), who retired last year, the first five years of DERA has resulted in a 97 percent reduction in sulfur emissions through the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. According to EPA, every $1 spent on DERA upgrades has resulted in $13 worth of health and environmental benefits.
“DERA is important to our national economic growth because diesel engines power over 95 percent of our commercial trucks and an overwhelming majority of our ships, locomotives and farm and construction equipment. In fact, when measured in tons per kilometer, more than 90 percent of the world’s global trade is diesel-powered,” Schaeffer added.
He added that the DERA reauthorization will accelerate the introduction of even more clean diesel technology for many of the remaining legacy diesel engines still in use.