Congress completes reauthorization of key diesel-retrofit program

The U.S. House of Representatives this morning passed by voice the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). Calling it “bipartisan environmental legislation,” the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) noted that DERA now only requires President Obama’s signature for its measures to be reauthorized for five more years. The U.S. Senate had unanimously approved the bill on December 16th

The U.S. House of Representatives this morning passed by voice the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA). Calling it “bipartisan environmental legislation,” the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) noted that DERA now only requires President Obama’s signature for its measures to be reauthorized for five more years. The U.S. Senate had unanimously approved the bill on December 16th.

“Today’s passage of DERA is a significant environmental and political accomplishment for the U.S. Congress,” observed Allen Schaeffer, DTF executive director. “The House and Senate have proved that bipartisanship can be attained on major environmental initiatives.

DERA (H.R. 5809) is a five-year reauthorization of the program created in 2005 to establish voluntary national and state-level grant and loan programs to reduce diesel emissions by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced on November 18th by Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and Tom Carper (D-DE) and cosponsored by several of their colleagues, including Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK). The House sponsors were Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Laura Richardson (D-CA).

“Passage of the DERA reauthorization will play a major role in our nation’s effort to expand our clean air initiatives,” added DTF’s Schaeffer. “In its first five years, DERA has proven to be one of the nation’s most successful clean air programs. In addition, DERA has provided an average of $20 worth of environmental and health benefits for every $1 spent. That’s a tremendous return on investment for any federal program. “The bipartisan action by the House and Senate will benefit communities in every state in the nation.”

DERA has been supported by “a unique and diverse coalition of more than 500 environmental, health, industry, labor and government organizations,” Schaeffer noted.

Since 2005, the federal government has invested roughly a half-billion dollars through DERA to improve America’s air quality by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment through engine replacements and retrofits that would include new pollution-cutting filters and catalysts.

When all of today’s older diesels have been replaced by new models that meet current EPA standards, at least 110,000 tons of particulate matter (or soot) and 2.6 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides will be eliminated from the nation’s air, according to DTF, which would be the equivalent of taking 13 million of today’s trucks off the roads.

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