House Approves DERA Reauthorization

Popular program has cost-effectively cut pollution and boosted American manufacturing for nearly 15 years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tonight, after the House of Representatives voted to approve H.R. 1768, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2019, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), along with bill author Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr., applauded the vote to bring the popular DERA program closer to reauthorization. The legislation would reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s DERA program at its current funding levels through Fiscal Year 2024. 

With today’s vote on the House floor, we’re one step closer to making sure this innovative program continues to drive both clean air progress and job growth in American manufacturing,” said Senator Carper. “For almost 15 years now, the competitive grants administered through the DERA program have made it easier to breathe in communities around the country by replacing old, inefficient diesel engines with cleaner, American-made technology. I want to thank Congresswoman Matsui and Chairman Pallone for their leadership in the House, and I’m hopeful that we can soon finish our work in the Senate to get reauthorization legislation to the president’s desk.”

“Clean air and a clean environment are fundamental rights for every American. No person, no matter their age, race, or zip code, deserves to live with a health condition resulting from poor air quality. For us to realize that goal, we need to work together in an all-hands-on-deck approach to reduce air pollution and improve public health, and today’s vote is an example of just that,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “DERA creates American jobs, protects our environment, and generates thirty dollars in public health benefits for every dollar spent. It is the very definition of a commonsense, good government program. Passing this bill through the House is an example of what we can accomplish when we work together, and I am proud to have spearheaded this reauthorization alongside Chairman Pallone and Rep. Long. I look forward to seeing the Senate finish this important work so we can usher this bipartisan bill into law.”

“I’m pleased the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed DERA today,” said Senator Inhofe. “This is a meaningful step forward in a long-term reauthorization of a successful program that creates jobs. I look forward to working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to enact a DERA reauthorization that will make needed reforms while continuing to promote the public-private partnerships that have had so much success.”

“It’s in everyone’s interest to upgrade older diesel engines with the cleanest, most efficient technology available,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “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. I’m proud to see it advance in the House.”

“Since Congress first created the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program, it’s enjoyed broad bipartisan support,” said Senator Barrasso. “Earlier this year, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unanimously passed legislation to reauthorize the program and improve it by helping rural communities participate. It’s critical that every community can take part in a program that helps keep our air clean and our public equipment running efficiently. It was also included in America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act. DERA is a popular program that works and deserves to be reauthorized.”

“Clean diesel engines and equipment play an important role in the American economy by transporting goods across the country and creating good, local manufacturing jobs nationwide,” said Congressman Pallone. “Since 2005, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) has enjoyed bipartisan support while producing enormous health and environmental benefits. We must take every opportunity to create jobs, protect the health of our communities and address the climate crisis – and to that end, we are proud the House has passed reauthorization of DERA with strong, bipartisan support.”

On April 10, 2019, the EPW Committee voted to advance S. 747, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2019, a bill co-sponsored by Senators Carper, Inhofe, Whitehouse and Barrasso that would reauthorize DERA through Fiscal Year 2024 and ensure equal funding opportunities between both metropolitan centers and less populated, rural areas across the country.   On July 30, 2019, committee voted unanimously to pass a $287 billion multi-year surface transportation reauthorization bill, America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act (ATIA), which includes language reauthorizing the DERA program in Section 1408.

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.

In July, EPA released the agency’s Fourth Report to Congress on DERA’s performance. According to the report, from FY 2008-16 DERA grants funded projects to replace or retrofit 67,300 engines in vehicles, boats, trains, and other pieces of equipment. In the report, EPA estimates that these DERA projects will prevent up to 2,300 premature deaths, slash millions of tons of harmful air pollution and save almost half a billion gallons of fuel over the lifetime of these engines—delivering $30 in monetized health benefits for every $1 spent by the federal government.