The U.S. government has funded only $49 million of the $1 billion authorized for a national diesel emissions reduction program, and environmental groups and trucking organizations want to know why.
The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act – or DERA for short – authorized $1 billion to be spent for diesel retrofit projects between 2006 and 2010, although as of December, only $49.2 million had been approved.
This week, a coalition of business leaders, government officials and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent letters to U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, D-WI, and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, asking them to support full authorization of the $1 billion DERA program.
According to Dane County (WI) Supervisor Brett Hulsey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to announce this week that Wisconsin counties Dane, Milwaukee, Columbia, Racine, Waukesha and Brown are among 143 U.S. counties nationally that show unsafe levels of soot pollution.
Hulsey said that fully funding the DERA would help not only those counties, but also Wisconsin’s economic health.
“The EPA says Dane County and five other counties in Wisconsin have too much soot pollution, and reduced diesel emissions is one of the best ways to clean up our air,” said Hulsey. “Fully funding the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act will save lives, reduce pollution and create jobs since some clean up technologies are made right here in Wisconsin.”
The coalition includes OOIDA; the city of Kenosha; Cummins NPower Emissions Solutions; Diesel Injection Service Inc.; Idle Free Technology; the Wisconsin Biodiesel Association; Green Diesel Wisconsin Foundation; Inland Power Group; Lake Superior Greens; and Prairie Fire Biodiesel.
OOIDA has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Commerce and has called for state officials to open up the diesel grant program to more small-business participation. Wisconsin’s program currently sets aside 25 percent for small trucking businesses.
Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s regulatory affairs specialist, said the Association will continue supporting small-business truckers through OOIDA’s grant program and by supporting other diesel retrofit grant programs.
“The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and its 4,000 Wisconsin members gladly support fully funding diesel emissions reduction,” said Rajkovacz.
“We are members of the Wisconsin Clean Diesel Coalition, and OOIDA has received $1.15 million in DERA funds. We will re-create the Wisconsin Diesel Idle Reduction Grant Program on a larger national level and thus know the importance of this funding help for small-business truckers.”
– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
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