EPA Report Highlights for Congress Clean Air, Fuel Savings Improvements of DERA Program

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Even as President Obama’s proposed FY2014 budget would slash by 70 percent programs funded under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, the U.S. EPA published its second report to Congress that breaks down the successes of the grant funding. 

“The results outlined in this report demonstrate that the clean diesel retrofit program (DERA) is one of the nation’s rarest and best examples of a program that actually works, delivering big and real benefits in fuel savings and cleaner air to all 50 states,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, which issued a statement following the release of the latest report.

EPA said DERA has accounted for the removal of more than 203,000 tons of NOx, 12,500 tons of particulate matter (PM) and 2.3 million tons of CO2. Additionally, EPA said 63 million gallons of fuel was saved due to DERA projects funded through fiscal years 2008 to 2010.

“DERA has proven consistently that relatively small public investments can be leveraged with significant private-sector matching funds that together result in major cost-effective emissions reductions and fuel savings,” Schaeffer added. “According to the report, every $1 in public funds appropriated through the DERA program is leveraged with an additional $3 in non-federal funds, including significant private-sector investments that result in $7 to $18 in benefits to the public.”

Schaeffer made a similar argument in response to Obama’s proposed budget earlier this month.

DERA was implemented in 2007 under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the previous Clean School Bus USA program was effectively rolled up under it. Since then, EPA officials have said that school buses have been the major benefactor of the program that funds diesel retrofits and engine repowers and replacements. Of all funded projects from 2008 through 2010, which included those funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, school buses actually tied long-haul trucks by capturing 38 percent of all project wins. Long-haul slightly outdistanced school buses in total engine retrofits and replacements by a margin of 19,986 to 19,612, but school buses won the lion’s share of ARRA projects at 40 percent of the total pot available compared to 34 percent for long-haul trucks and 13 percent for short-haul trucks.

The report states that 6,000 school buses were retrofitted in 2008, and the first ARRA project a year later included 1,000 retrofitted school buses in Colorado. In 2010, Mississippi retrofitted or replaced more than 2,000 school buses.

Over that same span, DERA projects funded a total of 52,000 retrofits, replacements or repowers. The EPA said that project proposals exceeded available funds by a ration of seven to one. Still, the EPA estimates that there remain 11 million older or “legacy” diesel engines still in use on roads and highways.