President Obama Signs Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (DERA)
Posted January 5, 2011
At about 7 pm last night, President Barack Obama signed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (S. 3973/H.R. 6482), a new law that will help communities reduce diesel pollution and improve public health throughout the nation.
As I wrote before the holiday break (see here and here), five years ago, Congress passed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005, which authorized up to $200 million per year, for five years, to help accelerate the clean-up of today’s dirty diesel engines. Over the course of the last five years, Congress appropriated roughly a half-billion in funds for the program, including a one-time $300 million infusion in the 2009 stimulus law.
The new DERA, as it’s known in the diesel world, authorizes $500 million in diesel clean-up funds over the next five years. While this represents a reduced authorization, it still enables EPA to continue the DERA program at the same level of funding as it has had (because the old DERA was never fully funded in its annual appropriations), with room for growth if the funds are appropriated.
DERA is popular on both sides of the aisle for many reasons. Two reasons stick out.
First, DERA has been popular because of the obvious need to clean up the dirty diesel engines in our midst. Older diesel buses and trucks spew out huge amounts of particulate matter (or soot) that triggers asthma attacks and emergencies, bronchitis, cancer, and premature deaths, as well as nitrogen oxides that are a key contributor to our chronic ozone (or smog) problems in the summertime.
Today, we have the technology to eliminate at least 90 percent of this pollution with advanced pollution controls that are standard equipment on new engines. DERA helps get these technologies on thousands of older, dirty diesels that still have years of service left.
The second, and perhaps more important, reason is that DERA is incredibly cost-effective, and it brings these cost-effective health benefits to every state in the nation, thanks to an effective, competitive allocation process.
Since 2005, DERA has provided federal funds in a competitive process that encourages state, local, or private funding matches. By doing so, DERA has been able to leverage roughly three dollars in state, local, or private funding for every federal dollar.
Every dollar spent by the DERA program to reduce diesel pollution yields between $13 and $28 in health benefits – thanks to the reduced asthma emergencies, cancer, premature deaths, and other health benefits of cleaner diesel engines. It’s hard to find a better investment in public health.
At a time of incredible partisan divide, the swift passage and signing of DERA shows that Congress and the White House can work together to move discrete, cost-effective ideas through the legislative process.
Encouraging news for the new year.
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