Bipartisan Support for Federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Bill

Established in 2005 to reduce toxic diesel emissions, the Diesel Emissions Reductions Act expired in 2016. A bipartisan effort appears to be in place to see it reauthorized this year.

March 23, 2019, 11:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Recreational Vehicle

welcomia / Shutterstock

"Sen. Tom Carper led his colleagues in introducing bipartisan legislation [S.747that would reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act through fiscal 2024," reports Eugene Mulero for Transport Topics.

The program, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, relies on federal grants and rebates. The funding is used to help finance the voluntary replacement or installation of retrofits on existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines.

 The program is so successful, every dollar invested in DERA generates a 13-fold return in health and economic benefits,” said Carper (D-Del.), ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee.

"U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), highlighted the importance of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) to communities in Wyoming," according to his March 13 press release. [Bill number not available as of March 18].

Barrasso noted several school districts in Wyoming have used funds from the DERA program to replace aging school buses, both to improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

“This funding has been key to incentivizing and expanding port environmental programs to improve air quality impacted by port operations,” American Association of Port Authorities stated during an EPW hearing March 13. Other DERA proponents include American Trucking Associations for reasons acknowledged by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) a day earlier:

"The program has been used to voluntarily upgrade more than 73,000 diesel-powered vehicles, all while creating lucrative manufacturing jobs. I am proud to have supported the program since it was first created more than a decade ago and I am proud to once again introduce bipartisan legislation to reauthorize such an effective program with Sens. Carper, Barrasso and Whitehouse.”

"On March 14, House lawmakers followed their EPW Senate counterparts to unveil a version of the DERA reauthorization," adds  Mulero. "The House bill also would enable upgrades to diesel engines."

Bipartisan support does that mean the bill will succeed. Mulero noted that notwithstanding the chairman's apparent support for the program, at the March 13 hearing he "would not specify when the panel would take up the bill during the 116th Congress."

However, a DERA reauthorization bill did pass the Senate last year, but the House bill was never heard. With Democrats in control of that branch of Congress, perhaps it will fare better this year, although the bill is yet to be numbered as of March 18 and doesn't show on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce website.

Successful bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:

The committee's webpage notes these three bills that became laws:

Friday, March 15, 2019 in Transport Topics

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