Carper’s Clean Diesel Legislation Passes Senate Bill Would Help Retrofit Old Vehicles With New, Clean-Diesel Engines

WASHINGTON (June 21, 2005) – By a vote of 92-1, the Senate Tuesday night passed legislation sponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would help reduce pollution from existing diesel engines. The bill, entitled the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005, was added as an amendment to comprehensive energy legislation currently being debated by the Senate. The diesel legislation, which is cosponsored by Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, would authorize $1 billion over five years to establish a national grant and loan program to help states meet new clean-diesel standards recently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Heavy-duty diesel vehicles, such as transit buses and garbage trucks, and off-road vehicles, such as construction equipment and tractors, account for roughly one-half of the country’s nitrogen oxide and particulate matter pollution emitted from mobile sources, like cars. As part of an effort to reduce diesel pollution, the EPA recently finalized new fuel and engine regulations designed to cut emissions from new diesel buses, trucks and off-road vehicles by more than 80 percent compared to year 2000 levels. Unfortunately, the full health and environmental benefits of the new rule won’t be realized for another 25 years because current diesel engines are so durable they last a long time and it’s not always cost-effective to replace them. In order to help states and communities meet the new diesel standards, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act would authorize a $1 billion federal grant program to help retrofit some of the 11 million existing diesel vehicles with cleaner-burning engines and other environmental technologies. Doing so should help states, like Delaware, meet clean air standards for ozone and other pollutants faster than currently projected. “The EPA’s new diesel rules are a positive step, but we shouldn’t have to wait 25 years to get so-called dirty diesel vehicles off our streets and highways when we’ve got the means to clean them up today,” said Carper, senior Democrat on the Senate’s clean air subcommittee. “This bill will provide the right incentives to help retrofit existing diesel vehicles so that states like Delaware can enjoy cleaner air sooner rather than later.”