U.S. Senate Committee Approves Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Reauthorization
The United States Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved a standalone, five-year reauthorization of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA) last week.
The committee renewed the bill’s $100 million funding level authorized by Congress in 2010.
The DERA program helps reduce emissions from older diesel powered vehicles and equipment by providing incentive funding through a competitive process for equipment owners and operators toward the purchase of new technology engines, approved emission controls or retrofit devices to reduce emissions, or total engine replacements.
DERA grants, first authorized by Congress in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act, are part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Diesel Campaign. These grants fund technologies such as emissions and idle control devices, aerodynamic equipment, engine and vehicle replacements, and alternative fuel options. As stipulated in the Act, 70 percent of DERA funds are to be used for national competitive grants, with the remaining 30 percent allocated to the states.
The legislative development was hailed by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). According to AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle, U.S. ports use DERA grants through a variety of federal, state and local programs, including clean truck initiatives, retrofitting or replacing yard equipment (including locomotives), installing shore power for vessels at docks, and retrofitting dredges and tugs. Since the Act’s inception, 57 percent of AAPA’s U.S. member ports have applied for DERA funding to improve their community’s air quality.
“Reducing air emissions continues to be a high priority for ports, and this program has proven to be very effective at doing that,” said Nagle.
The Diesel Emission Reduction Act has been one of the most successful clean air programs in recent years, according to Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. A report issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March 2016 shows that over 73,000 older diesel powered engines were upgraded or replaced between 2008 to 2013 through DERA funding, which resulted in major clean air benefits and fuel savings.
“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,” said Schaeffer.
Despite its success, the need for DERA’s incentive funding still exists, Schaeffer noted. According to the EPA report, 10.3 million older diesel engines are still in use across the country and over one million of these engines will remain 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.”
“AAPA strongly supports a $100 million a year funding level for DERA,” said Nagle. “Considering the huge benefits it provides both the environment and the economy, it’s worth every penny.”
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