The legislation introduced Tuesday by a bipartisan group would reauthorize the act through 2024 at current funding levels.
A bipartisan group of 10 Committee on Environment and Public Works senators, including Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Ranking Member Tom Carpenter, D-Del., on Tuesday introduced a bill to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) through 2024 at its current funding levels.
DERA, which was first established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), uses federal funding distributed through grants and rebates to help finance voluntary replacement or installation of retrofits on existing heavy-duty vehicles and engines. Through the fiscal year 2016, the EPA estimated the total lifetime pollution emission reductions achieved through the DERA program included 15,490 tons of particulate matter, 472,700 tons of NOX, 5 million tons of carbon dioxide and 11,620 tons of black carbon, according to a press release announcing the bill.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2019, DERA’s first reauthorization since 2010, also would ensure equal funding opportunities between metropolitan and rural areas.
“It’s in everyone’s interest to upgrade older diesel engines with the cleanest, most efficient technology available,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (pictured above), D-R.I., said. “Our bipartisan bill is a win-win, as it aims to reduce harmful pollution driving climate change while helping truck drivers, fishermen and farmers save on fuel costs.”
The Senate committee held a hearing Wednesday to examine the bill. Both Kurt Nagle, president and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities, and Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, both submitted testimonies supporting the legislation.
Nagle said, according to the EPA, a total of 150 clean diesel grants were awarded to port-specific projects between 2008 and 2018, totaling $148 million. An additional $64 million was awarded to multi-sector projects that involved ports.
The Alabama Port Authority and the ports of Long Beach, Georgia, Maryland and Tacoma all have used DERA funds for cleaner locomotives, he said.
DERA also has been beneficial in supporting larger ports’ clean truck programs, Nagle said, including at the ports of Baltimore, Massport, New York and New Jersey, Houston, Seattle and Georgia.
“These programs help truckers who service the ports buy new cleaner ‘drayage’ trucks that not only reduce emissions but are more fuel efficient,” he wrote in his testimony. “These trucks do not have the resources to replace their trucks as many are independent operators and these trucks are very long lasting.”
The DERA program, which is currently authorized to receive $100 million annually, has helped more than 73,000 vehicles, engines and pieces of equipment be replaced or retrofitted.
“While funding has been appropriated for DERA activities since 2008, there is still continuing need for the program, to address the many older vehicles, engines and equipment still operating today and likely for years to come,” Schaeffer wrote in his testimony. “For example, in the trucking sector, 36 percent of all large trucks are of the newest generation of near-zero emissions performance, meaning that 64 percent are of an older generation of technology. Substantial opportunities for emissions improvements still exist in communities all around the country.”
In 2017, Schaeffer said, nearly 900,000 heavy-duty diesel engines were manufactured in facilities located in 13 states. North Carolina was the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty diesel engines with 327,500 rolling off assembly lines, he said.
“The newest generation of clean diesel technology is now deployed across all ranges and types of new diesel-powered vehicles, equipment and machines,” Schaeffer said in his testimony. “Getting more of these newer-generation engines in service will deliver immediate air quality benefits.”