The U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air discussed a proposal that a $1-billion bill that would provide grants and loans for on-road and off-road diesel engines to be retrofitted for clean emissions be passed separately from the energy bill. The retrofit bill was introduced by Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-OH).
“The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 enjoys bipartisan support and was passed as an amendment to the energy bill by a vote of 92 to 1,” Sen. Voinovich said yesterday at the legislative hearing. “However, I think the bill is too important for us to wait until the energy bill is signed into law. I urge this Committee to act on the bill so that we can get it on the calendar and passed as soon as possible.”
Industry groups such as the Diesel Technology Forum, the Associated Contractors of America, Cummins and Caterpillar as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and green lobbyists such as the Clean Air Task Force, support the retrofit measure.
The bill would establish voluntary national grant and loan programs for diesel emission reduction projects and programs that improve air quality and protect public health and spread out the money over five years. It would require that 70% of the funds be distributed by the U.S. EPA with 20% allocated to states to develop retrofit programs. An additional 10% would provide an incentive for states to match federal money.
“The [bill] will play an important role in helping deploy more of these clean diesel retrofit technologies to thousands of small businesses and equipment owners who might otherwise not be able to afford to upgrade their equipment,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.