“Zeroing out the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) seems counterintuitive and at odds with the EPA’s transportation and clean air priorities for 2014,” Schaeffer said. “EPA has indicated one of their priorities this year is addressing problems around ports and surrounding communities, and we know that a number of DERA grant awards for port-related programs are scheduled for later this spring at the EPA Ports Summit in Baltimore.
“In the last budget cycle, Congress rebuffed the Administration and restored $13 million for this the FY 2014 DERA program, and a broad coalition of environmental, public health and industry groups is already on record and working with Congress on this FY 2015 budget.
“DERA has a proven track record of reducing emissions and improving air quality in all 50 states. Unlike other Administration funding programs such as the now defunct alternative energy programs, DERA delivers a $13:1 return on investment, according to EPA. Often the return is even higher when considering matching funds at a rate of 2-or-3 to 1 that further enhance the investments.
“DERA’s effectiveness has never been questioned. DERA has been a true environmental success story.
“We are hopeful that the bipartisan support DERA has received in both the U.S. Senate and House will initiate action in Congress to save the program.”
The Administration’s 2015 budget proposal would reduce DERA funding from the $13 million contained in the Continuing Resolution in FY 2014 to zero in 2015. The landmark DERA grant program was originally authorized as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to fund upgrades and modernize the oldest, higher-emitting diesel engines, complementing the stringent emissions standards EPA set for new diesel engines beginning in 2007. The program has evolved to also include deployment of many fuel-saving technologies as well.
“Having just tightened the particulate matter standards and being less than a year away from court-ordered action on ozone standards, state clean air agencies rely on these kinds of funds and projects to deliver measureable emissions reductions in their communities,” Schaeffer said.