The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this month advanced the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2016, a measure that would extend an Environmental Protection Agency grant program to 2021 that the EPA has used to fund retrofits or replacements of older diesel engines with cleaner models.
EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said reauthorizing the DERA program to 2021 would"provide federal and state grants to support rebuilding diesel engines or installing emission reduction systems to diesel vehicles to comply with state and federal emission requirements."
As the AASHTO Journal reported earlier, the EPA said it has awarded $570 million in grants since 2008 to upgrade nearly 73,000 engines for a wide range of transportation modes, much of that money going to heavy trucks and buses on highways and to equipment serving intermodal cargo hubs. It said the investment has generated more than $12 billion in health benefits.
The EPA has also awarded DERA grants to upgrade or replace locomotives and marine engines from the DERA program, which Congress first approved in 2005 in the Energy Policy Act.
The American Association of Port Authorities said the five-year reauthorization measure, at $100 million a year, continues the breakdown of providing 70 percent of DERA funds for national competitive grants and allocating the other 30 percent to states.
AAPA President Kurt Nagle said U.S. ports use DERA grants through various federal, state and local programs, including clean truck initiatives, retrofitting or replacing yard equipment including locomotives, installing shore power for vessels at docks and retrofitting dredges and tugs.
"However," said Nagle, "DERA grants aren't only effective at improving air quality. They also stimulate U.S. jobs since diesel equipment manufacturers often assemble their products here" in the United States."
He noted that the $100 million annual funding levels is just half of what Congress authorized for DERA six years ago. Nagle said his organization "strongly supports" the DERA funding, and that "considering the huge benefits it provides both the environment and the economy, it's worth every penny."