Senate panel hears testimony on restoring DERA funding

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A U.S. Senate panel was told Thursday, May 12, that federal funding for a highly-successful clean air program needs be restored in order to continue the important environmental gains achieved during the first five years of the act.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, testified in support of funding restoration for the bipartisan Diesel Emissions Reduction Act during a hearing entitled “Federal Efforts to Improve Public Health by Reducing Diesel Emissions” conducted by the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

Schaeffer said that while new clean diesel technology has reduced diesel emissions to near zero for newer engines and equipment, proven programs like DERA are vital for national efforts to upgrade and modernize the older diesel engines.

DERA was created by Congress in 2005 as a five-year program to help upgrade and modernize the estimated 11 million older diesel engines to reduce emissions. Because of its success, DERA was reauthorized for an additional five years and signed into law in January. However, in his 2012 budget proposal, President Obama proposed terminating the program and provided no funding for DERA.

“This came as a shock to the legions of industry, environmental, health, labor and governmental organizations that continue to support it,” said Schaeffer, pointing to a 372-52 U.S. House vote in December 2010 not to reallocate DERA money to other U.S. Environmental Protection Agency programs.

Schaeffer said DTF believes the Office of Management and Budget’s proposed termination report is based on inaccurate information and misinterpretation of the program. “With regards to continued need, by the end of 2011, it is estimated that roughly only 50,000 diesel engines out of the 11 million that exist will have been replaced or retrofitted with DERA funds,” he said.