Obama Signs Law Renewing Diesel Grants Program

Obama Signs Law Renewing Diesel Grants Program

President Obama signed legislation to renew a grant program that the administration has used to fuel diesel engine replacements, upgrades or retrofits to curb emissions across a range of cargo sector projects.

The “Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010,” which Obama signed late on Jan. 4, modifies and reauthorizes through fiscal year 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.

Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, said the measure was “a significant and important accomplishment” of the lame-duck 111th Congress. New clean-fuel and vehicle emission rules are taking hold that will reduce diesel exhaust from future models, but this EPA grant program targets older equipment that can last decades.

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The program uses federal aid to help cut emissions from the existing fleet of ships, tugs, cargo handling machinery at seaports and airports, locomotives, trucks and buses, as well as some farm and construction equipment. Since 2008, the EPA has awarded over 500 grants for diesel emission reduction projects nationwide, and the money can be used for retrofits, idle reduction, engine repowers and upgrades or full vehicle replacements.

For instance, a current EPA solicitation for projects says the agency will fund up to 50 percent of the cost of eligible drayage trucks with a 2007 model year or newer heavy duty engine.

“Because of the national importance of modernizing older diesel engines to reduce emissions,” Schaeffer said, “DERA is one of the most important clean air initiatives passed by Congress in recent years.”

The new law authorizes spending $100 million annually for five years, or a total of $500 million, but the actual amounts will depend on each year’s funding appropriations from Congress.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.