June 28, 2017

Whitehouse Introduces Legislation to Reauthorize Successful, Bipartisan DERA Program

Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2017 extends cost-effective clean air program through 2022

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has joined U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and John Barrasso (R-WY) to introduce the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) of 2017, which renews federal grant programs to reduce pollution from diesel engines and lessen exposure to harmful diesel exhaust.  In past years, Rhode Island has leveraged more than $2.7 million in federal DERA funding, administered by the state Department of Environmental Management, which has helped finance hundreds of vehicle retrofits, over 50 vehicle trade-ins, and the replacement of outdated shoreside electrical power sources at the Port of Galilee.

“Old diesel engines pump out pollution that threatens public health and our environment, and drives climate change.  But they can be more efficient and ten times cleaner if we put the latest diesel technology to work.  Our bipartisan bill would help everyone from farmers to truckers to fishermen upgrade their engines and save on fuel, and reduce dangerous pollution in the process.  That’s a clear win-win,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act was first established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and co-authored by Senator Carper and the late Senator George Voinovich (R-OH).  The DERA program is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and uses federal funding – 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.

“Clean air is central to the health of our families and environment, and we must remain vigilant in our work to reduce air pollution,” said DEM Director Janet Coit.  “Addressing diesel emissions continues to be an important focus of that work. In Rhode Island, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program has provided critical resources, allowing communities to invest in new and/or upgraded heavy-duty vehicles and achieve significant emissions reductions.  There is more work to do.  And we thank Senator Whitehouse for his continued leadership and support of this vital program.”

According to the EPA’s latest report, each federal dollar invested in DERA has leveraged as much as three dollars from other government agencies, private organizations, industry, and nonprofit organizations.  Since its implementation, DERA has upgraded nearly 73,000 vehicles or pieces of equipment and saved over 450 million gallons of fuel.  The EPA estimates that total lifetime emission reductions achieved through DERA funding are 14,700 tons of particulate matter and 335,200 tons of nitrogen oxides and have created up to $12.6 billion of health benefits.  Due to the program’s success, DERA has enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support.

The Environment and Public Works Committee is scheduled to mark up the legislation this week.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921