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  • The Diesel Technology Forum

EPA report to Congress highlights national clean-air, climate benefits of DERA Program

The Diesel Technology Forum praised the U.S. EPA for its fifth report to Congress highlighting the accomplishments of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program.

“EPA’s fifth report to Congress confirms the enduring value of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act in delivering substantial clean air and climate benefits to communities around the country, and the continuing need,” said Allen Schaeffer, DTF executive director. “As the agency stated in the report, ‘DERA funding has accelerated upgrades and replacements for diesel vehicles and equipment, improving the public and private diesel fleets that are critical to the economy.’”

Between 2008-’18, approximately $801 million in funding was appropriated to DERA to replace or retrofit more than 73,700 engines or vehicles. According to EPA’s calculations of health benefits, diesel emissions-reduction projects are cost-effective, with monetized health benefits estimated to exceed federal funding by a factor of 10. EPA estimates that reducing these harmful pollutants will lead to about $8 billion in monetized health benefits, according to the report.

The new generation of advanced diesel technology achieves near-zero emission levels and has been available since 2010 for heavy duty trucks, and since 2014 for off-road engines and equipment. DERA is the leading program that addresses the opportunity to modernize and upgrade or replace the previous older generation of diesel engines that have higher emissions and are expected to continue in service for many years to come.

Recent research has shown the distinct benefits of accelerating the turnover of the trucking fleet to newer diesel technology, finding that in 10 northeastern states, along with using biobased diesel fuels, three times the reductions in greenhouse gases and other emissions at 25 percent of the cost of a full electrification strategy.

“Thanks to Sen. Carper’s leadership and the bipartisan work in both the House and Senate, DERA has proven to be a consistently highly effective program,” Schaeffer said. “It has returned $10 in benefits for every dollar invested. In addition, the program helped reduced emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) by 491,000 tons and 5.8 million tons of carbon dioxide from 2008 to 2018.”

The DERA program was among the first EPA programs to focus on environmental-justice considerations. Since DERA’s inception, no other bipartisan federal program has delivered a more sustained level of clean-air benefits to disadvantaged and minority communities than DERA. Nor has any program addressed needs from such a broad range of vehicles and equipment, from school buses and commercial trucks to marine vessels and locomotives. DERA is the only EPA program that provides a means to help address some of the most unique emissions challenges in off-road engines and equipment such as construction, marine and rail.

“We celebrate the accomplishments of the DERA program and know that there remains significant need and opportunity for continued progress in these unique sectors that only DERA is suited to address as other funding sources have emerged,” Schaeffer added. “The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivered new, substantial and dedicated funding for school-bus electrification and upgrading—$5 billion over five years. The Inflation Reduction Act provides considerable federal tax credits ($40,000 per vehicle) for zero-emission freight vehicles.”

DERA programs have benefited communities in all 50 states. State and local clean-air regulators have relied on DERA funding as a key tool to help move communities toward compliance as more stringent clean-air requirements are being considered.

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