Carper Bill Passes Senate, Removes Roadblock to Clean Air Project

Delaware Senator's Bipartisan Bill Preserves Diesel Retrofit Program That Reduces Pollution

WASHINGTON – Environmental legislation by Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) requiring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continue to fund clean diesel projects as part of environmental enforcement settlements passed the United States Senate late last Friday. 

This successful EPA program has provided more than $60 million for making the exhaust of thousands of diesel vehicles cleaner over the past few years, including school buses, delivery trucks, and other heavy-duty diesels in use today. By the EPA’s own estimates, diesel retrofit projects have a 13-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio – meaning the $60 million spent to retrofit diesels has resulted in some $780 million in health benefits ranging from reduced childhood asthma cases to fewer cardiopulmonary deaths in adults.

“For years, I’ve worked to clean up our nation’s thousands of diesel vehicles,” said Sen. Carper. “These cost-effective diesel engine retrofit projects have succeeded to help make our air cleaner and more breathable.”

The EPA estimates there are 11 million diesel engines in on-and off-the-road vehicles that produce more than 1,000 tons of particulate matter every day because they do not have technology installed to reduce this harmful pollution. Particulate matter pollution leads to about 21,000 premature deaths in the United States each year, plus causing health concerns for thousands of Americans who suffer from asthma, heart attacks and respiratory problems.

In 2005, Sen. Carper’s bipartisan Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) was enacted into law, designed to reduce emissions from the millions of existing vehicle diesel engines by establishing voluntary national and state grant and loan programs to reduce diesel emissions.

But in 2006, the EPA determined that if the agency receives a specific appropriation for DERA’s grant program, the agency would not allow diesel projects as part of an enforcement settlement. 

Enactment of the Carper bill will give the EPA authority to continue to fund diesel retrofits through this program. Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio) joined Sen. Carper as cosponsors of this bill (S. 2146).

The House of Representatives must still act on this legislation before it is finalized and sent to the President to sign and enact into law.

A coalition of 250 environmental, science-based, public health, industry, and state and local governmental groups sent a letter to President Bush last fall urging the Administration to work with Congress to clarify that the EPA should continue to fund diesel retrofit projects as part of enforcement settlements.