A group representing the nation’s diesel engine makers is not happy about an item that’s in federal budget proposed this week by President Obama.
It calls for cutting all funding for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act from $20 million dollars this year to zero in 2015. The cut is part of more than $6 billion in budget reductions proposed for the new fiscal year, which starts at the beginning of October.
DERA was created by the passage of 2005 legislation authorizing the Environmental Protection Agency to provide grants and loans for the purpose of purchasing newer and less polluting diesel powered equipment, including commercial truck and engines. In 2010 the DERA program was reauthorized by Congress allowing up to $100 million to be spent for the program annually through 2016.
“Zeroing out the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act seems counterintuitive and at odds with the EPA’s transportation and clean air priorities for 2014,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “EPA has indicated one of their priorities this year is addressing problems around ports and surrounding communities, and we know that a number of DERA grant awards for port-related programs are scheduled for later this spring.”
Schaeffer says in the last budget cycle, Congress rebuffed the administration and restored $13 million for DERA in the current year, though $20 million was originally called for, and a broad coalition of environmental, public health and industry groups is already on record and working with Congress on the 2015 budget.
“DERA has a proven track record of reducing emissions and improving air quality in all 50 states,” says Schaeffer. “Unlike other Administration funding programs such as the now defunct alternative energy programs, DERA delivers a $13 to $1 return on investment, according to EPA. Often the return is even higher when considering matching funds at a rate of 2-or-3 to 1 that further enhance the investments.”
The proposed Obama budget got a cold reception from Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner ,who said it spends and taxes too much, likely meaning it will up to leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to come up with compromise legislation.