WASHINGTON, D.C. — The EPA’s efforts to promote clean air strategies through its National Clean Diesel Campaign may come to a halt next year.
The program has helped pupil transportation operations reduce emissions from their school buses by providing grants for pollution-control technology. The allocation of grant funding is authorized through the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA).
In his fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget, President Obama is proposing to cut the $80 million for the program.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson told National Public Radio (NPR) that deciding to cut it is “painful.” “This is a program that for every dollar spent, we know has a history of giving us $12, $13 in health benefits,” she said.
Following the release of the Obama administration FY 2012 budget, Diesel Technology Forum Executive Director Allen Schaeffer issued a statement on behalf of the organization.
“We understand the challenges of this budget, but truly don’t understand the president’s proposal to eliminate all funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Program.
“It’s hard to imagine any program that has delivered more return on investment for the American people. … DERA's popularity is further evidenced by the fact that grant applications have far exceeded funding levels for each of the last few years by as much as 7 to 1, with grant applicants also putting more than $2 billion in private matching funds on the table,” he said.
Schaeffer went on to say that the proposed elimination of funding in the FY 2012 budget is “especially ironic since just a few weeks ago President Obama signed into law the reauthorization of DERA for another five years.”
(SBF reported on the reauthorization here.)
NPR reports that Schaeffer and environmental groups will work with Congress to try to keep funding the program.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on clean air, also released a statement reacting to the elimination of funding for the DERA in the president's 2012 budget proposal.
"While I understand that the president's budget requires many unpopular, tough cuts, I was disappointed to see that funding was completely eliminated for the life-saving Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. This successful program is a bipartisan, common-sense approach to cutting toxic diesel emissions," he said. "Clean diesel engines made today are reaching near-zero emissions, but that does nothing for the millions of engines already in use and will be in use for the next 20 years. By cleaning up old diesel engines — like those on the school buses that take our children to school every day — the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act saves lives and creates a demand for clean diesel technology, which in turn creates American jobs."
Carper also said that he will work with the Obama administration and his colleagues to find ways to fund the program.