Learn About Impacts of Diesel Exhaust and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)
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As a result of EPA regulations, diesel engines manufactured today are cleaner than ever before. But because diesel engines can operate for 30 years or more, millions of older, dirtier engines are still in use. Reducing exposure to diesel exhaust from these engines is especially important for human health and the environment. EPA offers funding for projects that reduce diesel emissions from existing engines.
Impacts of Diesel Emissions
Human health, our environment, global climate and environmental justice are all affected by diesel emissions.
Human Health - Exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to serious health conditions like asthma and respiratory illnesses and can worsen existing heart and lung disease, especially in children and the elderly. These conditions can result in increased numbers of emergency room visits, hospital admissions, absences from work and school, and premature deaths.
Environment - Emissions from diesel engines contribute to the production of ground-level ozone which damages crops, trees and other vegetation. Also produced is acid rain, which affects soil, lakes and streams and enters the human food chain via water, produce, meat and fish. These emissions also contribute to property damage and reduced visibility.
Global Climate - Climate change affects air and water quality, weather patterns, sea levels, ecosystems, and agriculture. Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from diesel engines through improved fuel economy or idle reduction strategies can help address climate change, improve our nation's energy security, and strengthen our economy.
Environmental Justice - EPA seeks to provide all people the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to decision-making to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. DERA activities further EPA’s commitment to reduce health and environmental harm from diesel emissions in all communities throughout the country.
Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA)
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act Program (known as "DERA") was created under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PDF) (551 pp, 3.16 MB, August 2005). This act gave EPA new grant and loan authority for promoting diesel emission reductions and authorized appropriations to the Agency of up to $200 million per year through FY2011. Congress appropriated funds for the first time under this program in FY2008.
As stipulated in the Energy Policy Act:
- Seventy percent of the DERA appropriation is to be used for national competitive grants and rebates to fund projects that use EPA or California Air Resources Board (CARB) verified or certified diesel emission reduction technologies.
- Thirty percent of the DERA appropriation is allocated to the states and territories to fund programs for diesel emissions reduction projects. Base funding is distributed to states and territories using a formula based on overall participation. Additional incentive funding is available to states and territories that provide matching funds.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) provided $300 million in new funding for national and state programs for the implementation of verified and certified diesel emission reduction technologies. Recovery Act funding for the National Clean Diesel Campaign, now known as Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) Funding Program, allowed for the implementation of many additional projects.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010 (PDF)(7 pp, 133 K, January 2011) reauthorized DERA grants to eligible entities for projects that reduce emissions from existing diesel engines. The bill authorized up to $100 million annually for FY2012 through FY2016 and allowed for new funding mechanisms, including rebates.
In 2020, DERA was reauthorized under Division S – Innovation for the Environment section of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PDF) (2124 pp, 5 MB, December 28, 2020) for up to $100 million annually through 2024. The program will continue to award grants and rebates to achieve diesel emissions reduction.
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