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Since 2008, 67,300 older diesel-powered engines have been upgraded or replaced thanks to funding provided by the Diesel Emission Reduction Act (DERA), resulting in major clean air benefits and fuel savings, according a new report issued today – “DERA Fourth Report to Congress: Highlights of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The DERA clean diesel retrofit program continues to be one the nation’s most successful federally funded programs. It’s a rare examples of a program that actually works, delivering substantial, tangible benefits to American citizens: fuel savings and cleaner air in all 50 states,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “You’d be hard-pressed to find another environmental program that has enjoyed such bipartisan support or that has been as cost-effective while bringing innovative clean air and public health benefits to communities across the country.”
According to the July 2019 EPA report, 472,700 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 15,490 tons of particulate matter (PM), and 5.1 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) were reduced – and 454 million gallons of fuel were saved – between 2008 and 2016, due to the replacement or upgrading of older diesel engines with newer, cleaner technologies. These reductions resulting in $19 billion in public environmental benefits – for only $629 million invested by Congress.
“Most of these benefits have occurred through replacing, repowering or retrofitting older generations of technology with the newest generation of clean diesel power, which virtually eliminates PM and NOx emissions,” said Schaeffer. “DERA has funded a wide range of projects such as upgrading school buses and repowering locomotives, passenger ferries and construction machines, all to operate with substantially lower emissions in communities in which they serve. Thanks to retrofitting these heavy-emitting, older vehicles and equipment with the newest, cleanest diesel technologies, the DERA program has had enormous success, greatly improving air quality in regions surrounding ports and other goods movement centers.”
DERA Benefits Communities in All 50 States
DERA projects have been funded in each of the 50 states. A majority (64 percent) of these projects have been targeted to areas with identified air quality challenges, with the most funding going to support school bus and long-haul truck replacements. Construction and agricultural equipment, refuse haulers, delivery trucks and transit buses were also represented in the projects that received funding.
“The genius of the DERA program is that it pairs private sector funds with federal dollars, geared solely to bringing innovative new clean air and fuel savings technologies to market,” commented Schaeffer. “State and local clean air regulators can rely on DERA funding as a key tool to help move communities toward compliance, delivering cleaner air for citizens most in need. Meanwhile, the federal share of the DERA funding represents a small share of the total cost of each project to encourage owners to retrofit or replace with new clean technologies.”
“DERA has proven consistently that relatively small public investments can be leveraged with significant private sector matching funds that together result in major cost-effective emissions reductions and fuel savings,” continued Schaeffer. “According to the report, every $1 in public funds appropriated through the DERA program is leveraged with an additional $3 in non-federal funds, including significant private sector investments that generate between $11 and $30 in benefits to the public, and more than $2 in fuel savings.”
Coalition of Environmental, Health & Industry Groups Support DERA
The DERA program passed the Senate by a 92 to 1 vote in 2005, by unanimous consent twice since then in the Senate, and by voice vote in the House in 2010. Since its creation, DERA has been supported by a bipartisan coalition of several hundred environmental and public health organizations, industry representatives, and state and local government associations including the American Lung Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Union of Concerned Scientists, and National School Transportation Association. These groups continue to work together in educating Congress about these benefits and the importance of continued funding for the program.
“Thanks to DERA, not only have vehicles’ emissions been reduced, but awareness about the advantages of clean diesel technology has grown exponentially,” said Schaeffer. “Regional clean diesel collaboratives have been created throughout the country, bringing together vehicle and equipment owners, state and local governments and environmental advocates. As a result, today all 50 states now have some form of clean diesel retrofit program, with many of them also providing their own matching funds.”
Need for Continuation of DERA Remains Strong
The need for DERA’s incentive funding still exists. According to the report, funding requests for DERA exceed funding availability by as much as 38:1 for the National Clean Diesel Rebate Program and 7:1 for the national grant competition. On top of this, EPA estimates that nearly 10 million older diesel engines remain in use today; approximately one million of these will still be in use by the year 2030.
“For every $1 in DERA funds available, there are $5 in unfulfilled requests,” said Schaeffer. “State transportation and air quality directors place a high value on these funds, as they enable faster turnover of older engines to new, helping clean the air faster than otherwise possible.”
“Because of this demonstrated need – and DERA’s tremendous accomplishments – we’re hopeful that DERA continues to receive Congressional support and funding for years to come,” continued Schaeffer. “Past solicitations to the U.S. EPA for DERA program funding have consistently been oversubscribed, reflecting a high level of ongoing interest and demand from states and local communities.”
How the Newest-Generation Diesel Technologies Contribute to Cleaner Air
Today’s advanced diesel technologies are more widely adopted, more energy efficient and lower in emissions than previous generations, with even further improvements coming online. As verified by the Health Effects Institute Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), the emissions control technologies present in the newest-generation diesel applications – technologies meeting U.S. 2007/2010 standards – deliver dramatic improvements in emissions. The study affirmed that the aftertreatment technologies used in modern diesel engines are highly effective: diesel particulate filters reduce particulate matter (PM) emissions by more than 90 percent, and selective catalytic reduction systems reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 94 percent. Researchers also noted that “the overall toxicity of exhaust from modern diesel engines is significantly decreased compared with the toxicity of emissions from traditional-technology diesel engines.” Trucks using these new-generation diesel engines are so clean that it would take 60 new-generation diesel trucks to equal the emissions from one truck sold in 1988.
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About The Diesel Technology Forum
The Diesel Technology Forum is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit https://www.dieselforum.org/.
Sarah Dirndorfer Diesel Technology Forum 301-668-7230 firstname.lastname@example.org