Lawmakers unveil bipartisan diesel emissions bill

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 14, 2019

Democratic Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, joined by nine colleagues, yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act program through fiscal 2024.

The bill, which will be the subject of a hearing this morning, would renew the program at its previously authorized level of $100 million per year.

The measure would also tweak the application guidance to acknowledge differences around the United States in the types and use of diesel-powered equipment.

The program hands out grants and rebates to replace or retool existing diesel-powered vehicles, tugboats and other equipment with cleaner-burning models. Diesel engines, while more efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts, also produce dangerous fine particulates as well as other pollutants.

“DERA effectively uses American-made technology to reduce air pollution that harms our lungs and our climate,” Carper said in a news release.

Together with the late Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Carper drafted the legislation creating the program that ultimately became part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (E&E Daily, June 17, 2005).

While the program’s last reauthorization expired at the end of fiscal 2016, lawmakers have continued to steer money into it over White House objections.

And even though the administration last year sought just $10 million, Congress appropriated $87 million in a recently passed spending measure. For fiscal 2020, the White House this week again requested only $10 million (Greenwire, March 11).

Carper is the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is holding this morning’s hearing (E&E Daily, March 11).

Among the bill’s co-sponsors are EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and seven other committee members.

Two years ago, some of the same lawmakers had joined together in sponsoring S. 1447, an earlier reauthorization bill, but it did not pass in the 115th Congress.