U.S. Senate Hearing On Billion Dollar Program To Reduce Diesel Pollution

July 11, 2005

The U.S. Senate Clean Air Subcommittee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2005 (S. 1265).   The legislation authorizes $1 billion for a grant and loan program for community and business initiatives to reduce diesel exhaust from today’s engines.  

The legislation has broad bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Senators Voinovich, Carper, Clinton, Isakson, Hutchison, Feinstein, Inhofe, and Jeffords.  On June 21, the Senate voted 92-1 to amend the legislation to the energy bill, and tomorrow’s hearing would further ensure legislative action to lower diesel exhaust from existing engines if the Energy Bill does not gain final approval.  A new report by Environmental Defense, Cleaner Air for America, shows every single dollar invested in lowering diesel particulate pollution from existing engines yields $12 in human health benefits.  The analysis is available at www.environmentaldefense.org/go/cleanerairamerica

“This legislation relies on American ingenuity to accelerate the nation’s transition to cleaner diesel engines and deliver healthier air to millions of Americans today,” said Mark MacLeod, director of special projects at Environmental Defense.  “We applaud Senator Voinovich for his leadership in bringing diverse interests together and forging common ground to achieve cleaner, healthier air for America.”

Cleaner Air for America examines the extraordinary benefits of a national program to lower pollution from today’s existing 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 harmful levels of pollution from existing diesel sources will persist throughout the long lives of the engines in service today.

Available technologies can reduce diesel pollution by up to 90%, bringing tremendous relief to anyone 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 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.