Republicans and Democrats work together to reintroduce diesel emissions act

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe joined Democrats and other Republicans this week in launching a move to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act.

He and others called it one of the most cost-effective federal clean air programs and their legislation would reauthorize the program through fiscal year 2024 at its current funding levels. It would also ensure equal funding opportunities between large metropolitan centers and less populated, rural areas across the country.

“The DERA program has been used by Oklahoma to effectively reduce pollution in a cost-effective way through public private partnerships,” Senator Inhofe said. “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.” 

Inhofe is a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Other committee members who joined him in filing the legislation were : U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

“As we explore ways we can work together to clean our air and address climate change while creating jobs, this bipartisan legislation is a great example of how we can do just that,” Senator Carper said. “DERA effectively uses American-made technology to reduce air pollution that harms our lungs and our climate – creating American jobs and a healthier environment.  The program is so successful, every dollar invested in DERA generates a 13-fold return in health and economic benefits. This makes DERA a true win-win.  Many years ago, I worked with a Republican – my dear friend Senator Voinovich – to get this bill across the finish line, and now it’s not every day that an environmental initiative garners this much support from such a broad range of stakeholders and lawmakers. I thank Senators Inhofe, Barrasso and Whitehouse for their leadership in continuing this bipartisan tradition. It’s my hope that all of my EPW and Senate colleagues will join us in reauthorizing this important program.”  

“The Diesel Emissions Reductions Act allows communities to upgrade vehicles to both improve their efficiency and reduce emissions,” Chairman Barrasso said. “Our bipartisan legislation extends this important program. In Wyoming, these funds have been used by communities to replace aging school buses. This program is a great example of reducing carbon dioxide and other emissions through partnerships, not punishing regulations.”     

DERA, first established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, was co-authored by Senator Carper and the late Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio). The DERA program is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and uses federal funding – distributed through grants and rebates – to leverage state and other non-federal funding to finance the voluntary replacement or installation of retrofits on existing heavy-duty diesel vehicles and engines. By replacing or upgrading older diesel engines with newer American-made technology, the DERA program will continue to dramatically reduce diesel emissions, which protects public health and creates jobs.

According to the EPA’s latest report, each federal dollar invested in DERA has leveraged as much as $3 from other government agencies, private organizations, industry, and nonprofit organizations. The program has upgraded tens of thousands of vehicles and pieces of equipment, and DERA funds have been awarded to projects in every state in the country.  Through Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, the EPA estimates that total lifetime pollution emission reductions achieved through the DERA program include 15,490 tons of particulate matter, 472,700 tons of NOX, 5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and 11,620 tons of black carbon.  The most recent DERA reauthorization passed unanimously in the Senate and by voice vote in the House in 2010.

The text of the bill can be found HERE.