Coalition backs diesel funds

A coalition of 444 organizations this week sent letters to Congressional leaders requesting funding be restored for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, citing its importance as a national environmental, health and budgetary priority.

When it was reauthorized in December, DERA’s authorization level had been cut from $200 million annually for five years to $100 million annually for five years. In February, DERA was eliminated altogether from President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.

“While we all understand that Congress must make difficult decisions in these tough economic times, the DERA program has proven to be a significant environmental, health and budgetary success throughout the entire United States,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a member of the coalition.

In its letter to Congress, the coalition stated DERA was designed to reduce emissions from the 20 million existing diesel engines in use today by as much as 90 percent. “The continued need for DERA has been proven,” stated the letter from the coalition that includes environmental, science-based, public health, industry, labor and state and local government groups.

The letters were sent to U.S. Rep. Michael Simpson (R-Idaho), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment; U.S. Rep. James Moran (D-Va.), ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment; U.S. Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior; and U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.), ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior.

“Since enactment in 2005, DERA has been successful from an economic, environmental and public health perspective,” the coalition stated. “The DERA program has been responsible for the creation and retention of local U.S. jobs that involve manufacturing, installation and servicing of emissions-related technologies.”

In a fiscal 2008 report to Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every dollar spent on the DERA program, an average of more than $20 in health benefits are generated.