The proposed 70-percent reduction in funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) in the Obama Administration’s 2014 budget “will nearly decimate one of the nation’s most successful clean air programs”, according to Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

The 2014 budget proposal would reduce DERA funding from $20 million in fiscal year 2013 to $6 million in 2014. 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.

Schaeffer and the Diesel Technology Forum published to following statement:

“The DERA program has a consistent record of delivering very high environmental, fuel-saving and clean air value to large, small and disadvantaged communities throughout the nation for relatively small investments.” 

“EPA has estimated DERA has provided $13 in benefits for every $1 dollar invested.

“Ironically, just as state and local clean air officials develop plans to help meet President Obama’s new and more stringent clean air standards, this proposed budget virtually eliminates a valuable and proven means of emissions reductions to many non-attainment areas.  DERA is also a program that supports local jobs in servicing and installing these systems and devices.

“At the same time proven clean air programs here in the U.S. are being slashed by 70 percent, the President is increasing direct funding to other countries for climate and clean energy programs by over 30 percent.

“Despite these devastating reductions, we’re hopeful that the highly leveraged and competitive nature of this program will still allow meaningful projects to be undertaken,” Schaeffer said.   “In the past, every $1 dollar in government funding has been leveraged into $2 or $3 or more privately funded dollars.  But make no mistake about it – the total environmental and economic benefits of the program will be diminished by this 70 percent reduction.

“DERA’s Effectiveness Has Never Been Questioned”

“DERA’s effectiveness has never been questioned.  The bipartisan Diesel Emissions Reduction Act has allowed communities in all 50 states to upgrade older diesel school and transit buses, commercial trucks, locomotives and other equipment with modern and cleaner diesel engines and emissions filters.

“We challenge the Administration to identify any other program as effective as DERA, where $1 in government investment returns $13 worth of health and environmental benefits to the American people.  This is a time to leverage and restore funding for this program to help meet national clean air goals.

“America has been operating under a successful two-phased program to achieve the cleanest diesel in the world.  New clean diesel technology and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel have resulted in near zero diesel emission engines. EPA regulations have virtually eliminated emissions from new diesel trucks buses and off road engines and equipment – reducing particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by as much as 98 percent from 1988 levels.

“The second part of this effort included a fully-funded DERA program that provides assistance to owners of existing engines and equipment that still have productive value but would benefit from modernizing and upgrading.”