Restoration of Funding for Bipartisan Federal Clean Air Program Supported at U.S. Senate Hearing Today
“Every dollar invested in diesel retrofits and replacements yields at least $13 in environmental and public health benefits. It’s hard to find a better investment in public health.” – Allen Schaeffer, Diesel Technology Forum
WASHINGTON, May 12, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A U.S. Senate panel was told today that federal funding for a highly-successful clean air program needs to 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 (DERA) 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.
“Decade of Clean Diesel” Has Reduced Emissions to Near Zero in New Diesel Engines
“These last 10 years have been called the decade of clean diesel: a system of cleaner engines, low-sulfur fuels, and advanced emissions control technologies ultimately deployed for all ranges and types of diesel powered vehicles, equipment and machines,” Schaeffer said.
“The results are clear. New highway diesel truck engines have near zero emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) – 98 percent less than 1988 models. It is noteworthy that truck and engine manufacturers are not only producing near-zero level emissions vehicles, but these vehicles are consuming on average of five percent less fuel. Thanks to these advancements, in some U.S. cities, the air coming out of a class 8 heavy-duty clean diesel truck is cleaner than the air going into it.
“Similar reductions in emissions of particulates and oxides of nitrogen are now beginning to fall in place over the next three years (2011-2014) for the wide range of off-road engines found in everything from small construction equipment and farm machinery to freight locomotives, marine vessels, work boats and very large off-road machines and mining equipment. In fact, this year 2011 marks the debut of a number of the ‘fourth generation’ or Tier 4 emissions level machines in off-road applications.”
“DERA Has Improved America’s Air Quality”
“DERA has improved America’s air quality by modernizing older diesel engines and equipment through engine replacements and retrofits,” Schaeffer told the Subcommittee. “DERA addresses all of the ‘Big E’s’ – environment, energy and economy. In its first year alone DERA resulted in 46,000 less tons of NOx; 464,000 less tons of CO2 as well as saving 3.2 million gallons of diesel fuel, resulting in an economic gain of $8 million to the economy.
“Every dollar invested in diesel retrofits and replacements yields at least $13 in environmental and public health benefits. Plus, 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. It’s hard to find a better investment in public health.
“Imagine the progress that could have been made if DERA were fully funded over its first five-year period. Leveraging public, private and state funds could have invested as much as $3 billion to upgrading existing engines and equipment, which would have helped sustain economic growth and brought greater clean air benefits in a shorter timeframe. ”
Because diesel engines are known for their durability and reliability, Schaeffer said “it is not unusual to see 10 or 15 year old construction machines, agricultural equipment or commercial trucks.”
“In the course of developing cleaner diesel engines and fuels it became clear that some technologies could be deployed on existing vehicles and equipment which would enable current truck, bus or machine owners to improve the environmental footprint of their equipment while enhancing its overall value.
“Diesel retrofit has become a term of art reflecting a number of strategies and choices for modernizing and upgrading existing diesel engines. These primarily include retrofitting with an emissions control device; repowering, or replacing, an older engine with a new one; rebuilding an older engine to a higher emissions tier level; refueling with cleaner fuels; or replacing an entire vehicle or machine with a newer one.”
Schaeffer said that while DERA funds have leveraged other dollars in support of additional retrofits, “there is no question that the number of engines retrofitted or replaced to date represents only the tip of the iceberg.”
“Now, as the recession keeps diesel engines on the road and jobsite longer and longer, it’s even more important to help fund programs to retrofit and clean up those older engines. If ever a program made sense and had the support of environmental, labor, public health and industry groups, this is the one,” Schaeffer said.
Proposed Termination of DERA Shocked Environmental, Health & Industry Coalition
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 2011. 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,” Schaeffer said. “There is strong support in House evidenced by the fact that they voted 372 to 52 in Dec. 2010 not to reallocate DERA money to other EPA programs.
“This proposed termination report from OMB is in our view based on inaccurate information and misinterpretation of the program. For example, 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.”
Diesel Is the “Workhorse of the U.S. and Global Economy”
Schaeffer noted that “because of its unmatched combination of power, performance and energy efficiency, diesel technology is the workhorse of the U.S. and global economy, powering over 90 percent of commercial trucks, more than three-fourths of all transit buses, 100 percent of freight locomotives and marine work boats and two-thirds of all farm and construction equipment.”
“Diesel engines are also found in back up emergency electrical generators, stationary pumps and other industrial equipment. Diesel powered cars and SUVs also make up a growing percentage of new passenger vehicles sold nationwide in all 50 states. In fact, economical clean diesel is making a bigger contribution toward reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gases more than any other affordable drive technology today.”
ABOUT THE DIESEL TECHNOLOGY FORUM
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 visit www.dieselforum.org.
Available Topic Expert(s): For information on the listed expert(s), click appropriate link.
SOURCE Diesel Technology Forum