The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Tuesday approved the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (DERA), sponsored by U.S. Senator George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Del.). The committee approved the bill by voice vote.
This bill is a five-year reauthorization of their popular 2005 legislation that established a voluntary national and state-level grant and loan program to reduce diesel emissions. The original DERA legislation authored by Sens. Voinovich and Carper enjoyed strong bipartisan support; passing by a vote of 92 to 1 on the Senate floor, it was included in the final version of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
"Promoting common sense, cost-effective policies to improve the environment and protect public health is a vital part of my legacy of public service," Sen. Voinovich said. "In 2005, I was proud to work with my good friend Tom Carper to author the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, which enjoyed such broad support it was passed into law a mere 45 days after its introduction. The DERA program is one of the best actions our government has taken to improve air quality and help states and localities meet air quality standards. The reauthorization of DERA promotes sound environmental and economic policy, and I hope to have the opportunity to vote on its reauthorization before I leave the Senate at the end of this Congress."
Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, are co-sponsors of the bill along a bipartisan group of more than two dozen other senators. A uniquely broad coalition of 539 environmental, science-based, public health, industry, labor and state and local government groups support a reauthorization of DERA during the lame-duck session. Its current authorization expires in fiscal year 2011.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked diesel emissions to premature death, aggravation of symptoms associated with asthma, and numerous other health impacts every year. The agency estimates there are 11 million diesel engines in America lacking the latest pollution control technology. Retrofitting diesel engines provides enormous environmental benefits, yet there are few direct economic incentives for vehicle and equipment owners to do so. The financial incentives provided by DERA support voluntary rather than regulatory efforts to protect public health and help states meet EPA air quality standards.