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ETF calls on House leaders to prioritize action on Diesel Emissions Reduction Act following Senate passage

Following the U.S. Senate’s passage of S. 2195, a bill to extend the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act through 2029, the Engine Technology Forum urged action on an equivalent measure in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 5444.


As the initial sponsor of the DERA program, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, has been instrumental to this successful, bipartisan program and all the results it has achieved, according to ETF Executive Director Allen Schaeffer.


“His and Sen. Shelly Moore Capito’s, R-West Virginia, leadership in the Senate sets the stage for consideration in the House,” Schaeffer said. 


DERA provides grants and rebates to incentivize both equipment as well as vehicle owners to modernize and upgrade existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines, typically reducing emissions by more than 90 percent.


DERA is recognized as one of the most cost-effective federal clean-air programs.


For every dollar invested, $10 or more is returned in the form of benefits, Schaeffer said. 


“With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, considerable funding is being directed toward electrification and zero-emission technologies as well as fueling infrastructure for school buses along with commercial trucks and buses,” he said. “These approaches are not suitable or available alternatives for all types of users, engines, vehicles or equipment.”


Notably, DERA provides the only federal funding support to address categories of off-road engines and equipment—including marine work boats, railroad locomotives and material-handling equipment—all of which are commonly among the oldest in use.


This also means they have higher emissions profiles, but they can achieve significantly lower outputs when they’re the beneficiary of DERA funding.


Project requests for the DERA program have regularly exceeded funding availability, with $170 million more in project proposals submitted in 2017 and 2018 than funds available.


“In its most recent report to Congress, the U.S. EPA, which administers the DERA program, highlighted its results over a 10-year period (2008-’18),” Schaeffer said. “Thanks to the $801 million in funding, the DERA program eliminated nearly a half-million tons of nitrogen oxides, nearly 17 million tons of particulate matter, and more than 5.3 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions. These translate into approximately $8 billion in monetized health benefits.”


The DERA grant program is highly competitive and technology neutral, Schaeffer noted.


“According to the EPA, since DERA was last reauthorized in 2020, approximately 64 percent of awarded grants have partially or entirely funded diesel vehicle and/or engine replacements,” he said. “A total of 12 percent of awarded grants have partially or entirely funded electric vehicle and/or engine replacements. The remaining 24 percent of awarded grants have entirely funded alternative-fuel vehicle and/or engine replacements.”


Schaeffer continued, saying, “DERA has provided important assistance to communities as well as fleet and equipment owners to modernize existing engines and equipment. The program has given priority to projects operating in areas designated as having poor air quality, touching every state and tribal nation, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia, providing 30 percent of its funding to state governments with the remainder to a highly competitive federal-grant process for individual projects.”


According to Schaeffer, the DERA program has funded a vast array of projects, including upgrades in the school-bus sector (43 percent), freight/trucking (36 percent), construction (7 percent), port (5 percent), municipal (3 percent) as well as lesser numbers of projects in the agriculture, airport and transit sectors. 


“We look forward to continuing our work with leaders in the House to ensure that this beneficial, bipartisan and cost-effective program will continue to contribute to cleaner air, lower fuel consumption, and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions,” Schaeffer said.



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