Environmental Defense Joins Industry In Support Of Bipartisan Legislation To Cut Diesel Pollution

June 16, 2005

A national program to lower pollution from today’s diesel engines will have extensive human health benefits that overwhelm the costs by at least 12 to 1, according to a new report from Environmental Defense, Cleaner Air for America.  The analysis is available at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/cleanerairamerica  

Environmental Defense released the report on the same day that Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), business leaders and Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp jointly announced the Diesel Emission Reduction Act of 2005.  The unique national legislation would provide federal support for community and business initiatives to lower  pollution from existing diesel engines.  Senators Thomas Carper (D-DE), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Hilary Clinton (D-NY) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) are co-sponsors of the bill.

“This bill relies on American ingenuity to accelerate the nation’s transition to cleaner diesel engines and deliver healthier air to millions of Americans today,” said Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp.  “We applaud Senator Voinovich for his leadership in bringing diverse interests together and forging common ground on a visionary clean air initiative for America.”

“I would like to thank Environmental Defense for all the hard work they have put into making sure this legislation becomes a reality,” said Senator Voinovich.  “The executive summary they provided on their recent study clearly lays out the need for a national program to cut pollution from today’s existing diesel engines.  I look forward to continuing to work with Environmental Defense to ensure the passage and full funding of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005.”

Cleaner Air for America examines the human health, policy and economic case for a national program to lower pollution from today’s diesel engines.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that by 2030, its landmark programs to reduce air pollution from new diesel buses, freight trucks and new nonroad diesel equipment will slash diesel emissions by more than 80% from 2000 levels thereby preventing over 20,000 premature deaths and half a million asthma attacks each year.  But because these standards apply only to new diesel engines and because existing diesel engines are so durable, the high levels of pollution from existing diesel sources will persist throughout the long lives of the engines in service today.

Cleaner Air for America demonstrates that each dollar invested in lowering pollution from existing diesel engines yields human health dividends of at least twelve-fold.  The legislation introduced today seeks to establish a national program that will provide $200 million annually over six years for communities and businesses to cut pollution from diesel vehicles and engines in use today.  This federal support will help speed the transition to healthier air.

Available technologies can reduce diesel pollution by up to 90%, bringing tremendous relief to any one who lives, works, attends school, or plays near diesel engines.  The report summarizes diesel pollution reduction projects that have been the proving grounds for a more comprehensive national program, including:

- programs in Seattle and Los Angles to reduce ship idling by providing shore- based electric power on docks;
- New York City’s local law requiring diesel pollution reduction technologies on vehicles used in City public works construction contracts;
- Houston’s efforts to retrofit, repower or replace old locomotives;
- the electrification of truck stops in Brooklyn, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to reduce idling emissions, and;
- EPA’s Clean Schoolbus USA program, which has made the ride to school healthier for kids in 47 communities across the country.