The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) now just needs President Obama’s signature for the bipartisan legislation to be reauthorized for five more years.

The U.S. Senate had unanimously approved the legislation on Dec. 16. President Obama is expected to sign the reauthorization into law.

“Today’s passage of DERA is a significant environmental and political accomplishment for the U.S. Congress. The House and Senate have proved that bipartisanship can be attained on major environmental initiatives,” said Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF).

“Passage of the DERA reauthorization will play a major role in our nation’s effort to expand our clean air initiatives. In its first five years, DERA has proven to be one of the nation’s most successful clean air programs. In addition, DERA has provided an average of $20 worth of environmental and health benefits for every $1 spent. That’s a tremendous return on investment for any federal program.

“The bipartisan action by the House and Senate will benefit communities in every state in the nation.”

DERA (H.R. 5809) is a five-year reauthorization of the highly-successful program created in 2005 to establish voluntary national and state-level grant and loan programs to reduce diesel emissions by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment. The bipartisan legislation was introduced on Nov. 18 by U.S. Senators George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Tom Carper, D-Del., and cosponsored by several of their colleagues including Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Ranking Member James Inhofe, R-Okla. The House sponsors were U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., and Laura Richardson, D-Calif.

DERA information

DERA funds are used to clean up the nation’s older diesels, by retrofitting or replacing them with new technologies that significantly reduce the soot and emissions. EPA estimates there to be an estimated 11 million older diesel trucks, buses, and equipment in use today.

Since 2005, the federal government has invested roughly a half-billion dollars through DERA to improve America’s air quality by upgrading and modernizing older diesel engines and equipment through engine replacements and retrofits that would include new pollution-cutting filters and catalysts.

When all of today’s older diesels have been replaced by new models that meet current EPA standards, at least 110,000 tons of particulate matter (or soot) and 2.6 million tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides will be eliminated from the nation’s air. This is the equivalent of taking 13 million of today’s trucks off the roads.