Major Victory for Clean Air Efforts; Bill Goes to President for Signature
Dec 21 2010
Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, commended the House's passage of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (DERA). Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), a senior member of the Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety, and Sen. Carper introduced the legislation this year. The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with 29 other senators. The bill 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. The bipartisan bill, which unanimously passed the Senate as part of H.R. 5809 last week, now goes to the president to be signed into law.
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. 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. I look forward to the president signing this instrumental legislation into law."