March 12, 2019

Van Hollen, Bipartisan Group of EPW Senators Introduce Bill to Reauthorize Popular, Effective Diesel Emissions Reduction Act

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md) joined Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.),  Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and in introducing the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2019.

This legislation would reauthorize DERA – one of the most cost-effective federal clean air programs – through fiscal year 2024 at its current funding levels. The legislation would also ensures equal funding opportunities between both large, metropolitan centers and less populated, rural areas across the country.

“The DERA program helps us upgrade our state and local transportation systems to improve efficiency and decrease harmful emissions. This program has helped modernize hundreds of vehicles and marine vessels in Maryland, reducing pollution and improving our state’s air quality. I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting this important program, and I urge the Congress to take up this bipartisan legislation swiftly,” said Senator Van Hollen.   

“The Diesel Emissions Reductions Act allows communities to upgrade vehicles to both improve their efficiency and reduce emissions,” Chairman Barrasso said. “Our bipartisan legislation extends this important program. In Wyoming, these funds have been used by communities to replace aging school buses. This program is a great example of reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions through partnerships, not punishing regulations.”      

“As we explore ways we can work together to clean our air and address climate change while creating jobs, this bipartisan legislation is a great example of how we can do just that,” Senator Carper said. “DERA effectively uses American-made technology to reduce air pollution that harms our lungs and our climate – creating American jobs and a healthier environment.  The program is so successful, every dollar invested in DERA generates a 13-fold return in health and economic benefits. This makes DERA a true win-win.  Many years ago, I worked with a Republican – my dear friend Senator Voinovich – to get this bill across the finish line, and now it’s not every day that an environmental initiative garners this much support from such a broad range of stakeholders and lawmakers. I thank Senators Inhofe, Barrasso and Whitehouse for their leadership in continuing this bipartisan tradition. It’s my hope that all of my EPW and Senate colleagues will join us in reauthorizing this important program.”

“The DERA program has been used by Oklahoma to effectively reduce pollution in a cost-effective way through public private partnerships,” Senator Inhofe said. “The program has been used to voluntarily upgrade more than 73,000 diesel-powered vehicles, all while creating lucrative manufacturing jobs. I am proud to have supported the program since it was first created more than a decade ago and I am proud to once again introduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize such an effective program with Sens. Carper, Barrasso and Whitehouse.”

“It’s in everyone’s interest to upgrade older diesel engines with the cleanest, most efficient technology available,” Senator Whitehouse 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.”

“DERA provides important funding for the State of Alaska to assist rural communities in updating their prime power engines that generate heat and electricity in remote areas isolated from larger electric grids,” Senator Sullivan said. “While more needs to be done to ensure electric reliability and cost reductions in these rural villages, this bill is a positive step to ensuring Alaskans facing harsh conditions can keep the lights on and improve their air quality.”

“I’ve seen firsthand how low-income families in New Jersey are disproportionately impacted by air pollution from heavy duty diesel trucks and related traffic in their communities,” Senator Booker said. “This mirrors what’s happening across the United States, where millions of low-income and minority families have higher rates of serious health problems like asthma and lung disease because of these disproportionate effects of pollution. This bipartisan legislation extends and improves the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, a cost-effective way to help address this serious environmental justice issue.”

“DERA is an example of commonsense, bipartisan legislation that is a win for states and federal governments alike,” Senator Capito said. “This model environmental policy is a carrot—not a stick—that betters air quality in our communities; and it’s a is a doable, realistic policy that has led to successful results. I’m proud to join my colleagues in addressing emissions in a responsible way.”

“Clean air is a fundamental right, and we need to do much more to eliminate harmful pollutants from our air,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The DERA Program helps upgrade older diesel vehicles with new technology to reduce the amount of harmful diesel emissions from their engines. I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation along with my colleagues on the Environment and Public Works Committee to reauthorize the DERA Program and help communities throughout our country reduce air pollution.”

“Personal responsibility coupled with private innovation- rather than bureaucratic federal regulation- helps both our energy industry and the environment,” said Senator Cramer. “DERA encourages equipment owners to upgrade their vehicles to the cutting-edge technology the private sector creates. I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reauthorize this important program. ”

DERA, first established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, was co-authored by Senator Carper and the late Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The DERA program is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and uses federal funding – distributed through grants and rebates – to leverage state and other non-federal funding to finance the voluntary replacement or installation of retrofits on existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines. By replacing or upgrading older diesel engines with newer American-made technology, the DERA program will continue to dramatically reduce diesel emissions, which protects public health and creates jobs.

According to the EPA’s latest report, each federal dollar invested in DERA has leveraged as much as $3 from other government agencies, private organizations, industry, and nonprofit organizations. The program has upgraded tens of thousands of vehicles and pieces of equipment, and DERA funds have been awarded to projects in every state in the country.  Through Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the EPA estimates that total lifetime pollution emission reductions achieved through the DERA program include 15,490 tons of particulate matter, 472,700 tons of NOX, 5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and 11,620 tons of black carbon.  The most recent DERA reauthorization passed unanimously in the Senate and by voice vote in the House in 2010.

The text of the bill can be found HERE.