Sen. Carper, Sec. O’Mara, Environmental and Industry Leaders Highlight Clean Diesel Retrofits in Delaware School Buses

Bipartisan Clean Diesel Bill Reauthorization Soon to be Signed by President

LEWES, Del. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara toured recently retrofitted school buses in the Cape Henlopen School District, a recipient of Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grants. This clean diesel retrofit program was recently reauthorized through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2010, which is expected to be signed into law by President Obama soon. The law was introduced last fall by Sen. Carper, chairman of Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, and Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio).

Sen. Carper and Sec. O’Mara were joined by Cape Henlopen School District Superintendent Dr. David Robinson and environmental and industry leaders, including Brooke Suter from the Clean Air Task Force, Ray Fattore of FirstGroup representing the National School Transportation Association and Deb Brown from the American Lung Association.

The bipartisan legislation is a five-year reauthorization of their popular 2005 legislation that established a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce diesel emissions. Since 2008, DERA has provided the resources to utilize clean diesel technology, thereby reducing harmful air pollutants. Specifically, DERA has funded projects to reduce diesel emissions for 39 school buses in Cape Henlopen, Capital and Providence Creek Academy Charter School Districts; for sanitation and other diesel trucks in Dover, Newark and Wilmington; and for the diesel engines at the Port of Wilmington.

The DERA Reauthorization will continue to fund the modernization of the old diesel fleet in the United States through voluntary national and state-level grant, loan, and rebate programs. Every year, DERA helps clean up more than 14,000 diesel-powered vehicles and equipment across the country, which has reduced emissions while employing thousands of workers who manufacture, sell or repair diesel vehicles and their components in each state. This bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by 33 senators, extends the program by five years. It is supported by a broad coalition of more than 530 environmental, public, industry and labor groups.

Compared with traditional gasoline engines, diesel engines are more efficient, last longer, and without the proper technology, have greater, deadlier emissions. Diesel exhaust is a mixture of vapors and fine particles, many of which can cause cancer. Chronic exposure to these toxins can lead to cancer and death. This is why poor air quality caused by old dirty diesel engines can lead to higher-than-average cancer rates for those living along heavily-traveled interstate highways, like I-95 in Delaware. In fact, dirty diesel emissions are linked to 21,000 premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks and numerous other health impacts every year.

Retrofitting diesel engines provides enormous environmental benefits, yet there are few direct economic incentives for vehicle and equipment owners to do so. The EPA estimates there are 11 million diesel engines in America lacking the latest pollution control technology. DERA provides the right financial incentives to clean up our current fleet. DERA is considered one of the most cost-effective federal programs, averaging more than $13 in health and economic benefits for every $1 in funding. Since funding started in 2007, DERA to date has funded more than 3,000 projects nation-wide, impacting thousands of vehicles and engines, and thousands of lives.

“The people of Delaware sent me to Washington to find ideas that will work, ideas we can all agree on to make our country even better,” said Sen. Carper. “An idea that works is the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act or DERA, a bipartisan, common-sense bill that I have co-authored with my friend Sen. George Voinovich. Dirty diesel engines are a hazard to Delawareans – especially those living along the I-95 corridor. Since 2008, DERA has provided the resources to utilize clean diesel technology, thereby reducing harmful air pollutants. Specifically, DERA has funded projects to reduce diesel emissions for 39 school buses in Cape Henlopen, Capital and Providence Creek Academy Charter School Districts, for sanitation and other diesel trucks in Dover, Newark and Wilmington and for the diesel engines at the Port of Wilmington. By cleaning up old diesel engines – like those on the school buses that take our children to school every day – DERA saves lives and creates a demand for clean diesel technology, which in turn creates American jobs.

“DERA leverages federal dollars so efficiently that for every $1 invested, we get over $13 in health and economic benefits in return,” continued Sen. Carper. “This program is a huge success, which is why a diverse coalition of over 530 state and local governments, industry groups, labor and environmental organizations from Delaware and all over the country have voiced their support for reauthorization of DERA. I’m proud my colleagues in the Senate and House joined us in the effort to reauthorize this common-sense approach to creating jobs and cleaning up Delaware’s and the rest of our nation’s air.”

“Protecting public health by improving air quality in Delaware is a priority for the Markell Administration,” said Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Sec. O’Mara. “The reauthorization of DERA will help accelerate Delaware’s efforts to ensure that all residents can breathe clean air, because it will provide critical resources needed to continue implementing Delaware’s clean diesel retrofit program. Sen. Carper’s leadership has been invaluable in this important legislation that will create jobs in our state, improve air quality and protect the health of our children and all Delawareans. I also want to thank Cape Henlopen School District for being a strong partner with DNREC and making improvements to their school bus fleet that will reduce emissions of particulates and other pollutants, including hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide, by 60 to 90 percent.”

“We are excited that Sen. Carper has decided to come to the Cape Henlopen School District and has recognized our diesel emissions reduction program in the District as a best practice,” said Dr. Robinson, Superintendent of the Cape Henlopen School District.

“Reducing diesel pollution is a win for jobs, a win for health and a win for climate,” said Brooke Suter, national campaign director Clean Air Task Force and coordinator Diesel Clean-Up Campaign. “The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) has proven to be a highly cost-effective program, and key in promoting the shift to clean diesel options by providing funding to every state in the country. As part of the diverse DERA Coalition we would like to thank Sen. Carper for his consistent leadership, working across the aisle with Sens. Voinovich and Inhofe to develop a truly bi-partisan program in 2005 and working with conviction to win the recent reauthorization in the lame duck session.”

“Private school bus contractors around the country are committed to ensuring the safety and health of our student riders and the communities we serve,” said Donnie Fowler, President, National School Transportation Association. “We are pleased to be part of a broad coalition of interests that has fought for reauthorization of the Diesel Emission Reduction Act, which has provided needed funding for effective diesel emission reduction programs in every state. I am sorry I can’t be there in person but the National School Transportation Association will be ably represented by two member companies with operations that serve Delaware communities – Ray Fattore from First Student of Cincinnati, OH and Blake and Brad Krapf from Advance Student Transportation of Wilmington, DE. We compliment Senators Voinovich and Carper in the Senate and the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committee for swift passage of a reauthorization bill that will ensure that this important program is continued for an additional five years.”

“We are all here today because we are passionate about our Delaware community and passionate about keeping our community healthy,” said Deb Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “The Lung Association’s mission is to save lives, improve lung health, and prevent lung disease. To do this we have to be vigilant about the quality of air that we breathe. With modern pollution control technology, the emissions from a diesel engine can be cut by 90%. That is why investing in diesel clean up is so critical.

“The Diesel Emission Reduction Act works to clean up this pollution through an innovative voluntary program,” continued Deb Brown. “That is why it is supported by such a wide array of organizations including the American Lung Association. Thanks to Senator Carper, Delaware can look forward to reduced diesel emissions and a healthier population.”