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President Obama Signs The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Into Law


January 7, 2011 - The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) (H.R. 5809) would expand eligibility requirements for grants and low-cost loans offered to include individual owners and other private entities that manage diesel vehicle fleets and are contractors with the federal government.  

The original bill which was called Energy Policy Act of 2005 created an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program that provided grants and low-cost loans for school districts and other entities to retrofit school buses and other diesel vehicles to meet increasing emission standards for diesel powered vehicles.

The program is currently authorized through Fiscal Year 2011. The Act would reauthorize for five years, through Fiscal Year 2016, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.


 The legislation would also attempt to modify the program by adding a competitive bidding process for groups seeking funding.  It would also require 95 percent of funds appropriated to be expended in a given year on grants to eligible program participants. It would also authorize $100 million annually from Fiscal Year 2012 through 2016.

The measure also would direct the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to carry out an audit to identify all mobile source clean air grant, rebate, or low cost revolving loan programs under the EPA, Department of Transpiration and other agencies, that are designed to address diesel emissions from, or reduce diesel fuel usage by, diesel engines and vehicle. The GAO would be directed to review whether there is overlap, duplication or gaps in the programs.  

Passage of DERA is important to our national economic growth because diesel engines power over 95 percent of our commercial trucks and an overwhelming majority of our ships, locomotives and farm and construction equipment. Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF), issued the following after President Obama signed the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) into law Tuesday night. 

“While the reauthorization of DERA isn’t receiving the publicity that some other legislative issues attracted, it will be a significant and important accomplishment for the 111th Congress. Because of the national importance of modernizing older diesel engines to reduce emissions, DERA is one of the most important clean air initiatives passed by Congress in recent years.


“In addition, DERA is important to our national economic growth because diesel engines power over 95 percent of our commercial trucks and an overwhelming majority of our ships, locomotives and farm and construction equipment. In fact, when measured in tons per kilometer, more than 90 percent of the world’s global trade is diesel-powered. 

“The combination of new clean diesel technology and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel has helped to reduce diesel emissions to near zero levels for new buses, trucks and off-road equipment. Now the older engines that continue to power our economy will also benefit from the upgraded engines and filters provided by DERA. This legislation will accelerate the introduction of even more clean diesel technology to as many of our older diesel engines as possible.” 

DERA was created by Senators Carper and Voinovich and passed into law in 2005. The new DERA reauthorization was approved by the Senate on December 16, 2010 and by the House on December 21, 2010. When signed into law by President Obama, the new legislation will reauthorize DERA for another five years. The legislation authorizes $100 million annually for five years, for a total of $500 million, however the actual annual amount will depend on each year’s funding appropriation. According to EPA, every $1 spent on DERA upgrades has resulted in $13 worth of health and environmental benefits. DERA is supported by more than 500 environmental, health, industry, labor and government organizations.


Since 2006, new ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel has reduced sulfur emissions by 97 percent. Just as taking the lead out of gasoline in the 1970s enabled a new generation of emissions control technologies that have made gasoline vehicles over 95 percent cleaner, removing the sulfur from diesel help usher in a new generation of clean diesel technology. 

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information.

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