We are completely perplexed that the Obama Adminstration did not include any funds to support the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) in their FY12 budget proposal. Reducing diesel pollution is a win for jobs, health, and climate. The DERA program has been a poster child for bipartisan cooperation and has diverse support among industry, labor, environmental, and health groups, and state and local agencies across the country.
In a FY 2008 report to Congress, EPA estimated that for every dollar spent on the DERA program, an average of more than $20 in health benefits are generated. During this past fall’s lame duck session, Senators Carper, Inhoffe, and Voinovich, leaders in both chambers, worked together to pass DERA reauthorization at $500M over five years.
Over the last five years, the Pittsburgh region has greatly benefitted from the federal DERA program. Most recently the Port of Pittsburgh Commission was awarded more than $1.1 million to oversee the extensive repowering of four marine towing vessels (eight engines) with new, cleaner, more fuel-efficient diesel engines and generators. After being matched with $1.97 million from three private companies, this project will be able to cut 5 tons of particulate matter, 112 tons of nitrous oxide, 15 tons of carbon monoxide, and 2 tons of hydrocarbons from our air.
Other local projects that have been funded with DERA funds include the retrofitting of 33 City of Pittsburgh garbage trucks with diesel particulate filters, the repowering of 9 Port Authority transit buses and the replacement of 2 transit buses with diesel hybrid electric buses, the repowering of a conventional diesel switcher locomotive with a GENSET diesel engine at the Demler rail yard in McKeesport, and the retrofitting or repowering of 28 pieces of off-road construction equipment utilized on area roadways. These projects have reduced many tons of PM, CO, and NOx locally, and have touched on nearly every sector of diesel emissions in our region.
Members of the national diesel coalition we are involved in are looking forward to having constructive discussions with EPA and OMB officials later this month to get a meaningful level of funding for DERA restored.